We often forget that audiobooks are part of the ebook hierarchy. Amazon’s Audible is the biggest player in this market and has been around for years. Last year, however, Audiobooks.com started up with a new payment model. It charged $24.95 to listen to an unlimited number of audiobooks from the catalog. This was different from Audible’s “credit” model, which, generally, resulted in a payment of $14.95 per book. At that time, Audiobooks.com said that its plan was better because there was “… no need to return audiobooks, no long-term contracts, and no time constraints on audiobook use”.
That has changed, however. Audiobooks.com has just changed its plan to match Audible: $14.95 for one audiobook per month and $22.95 for two audiobooks per month. According to paidContent, Audiobooks.com felt that it was alienating customers by only offering a high-end plan and, given the length of an audiobook, few customers can make use of an unlimited plan.
So why bother with Audiobooks.com when Audible is so much bigger (100,000 titles at Audible vs. 25,000 titles at Audiobooks.com)? Good question. The main difference, now, seems to be that Audiobooks.com offers streaming and Audible does not. It doesn’t seem to me that this is much of a raison d’etre. Streaming will eat up a user’s data plan as audiobooks are hours long. Only a mobile user has much use for streaming, and streaming may not be completely reliable when the user is moving about. To remain competitive, Audiobooks.com will need to come up with a better distinction than this.