Many audiobook and ebook companies are at a crossroads. Google recently introduced a new policy where if a developer earns over a million dollars a year, they will charge 30% for every piece of digital content sold. Subscriptions will only be 15%, so we will likely see a rise of unlimited reading apps. This puts the onus on Amazon, who has razer thin margins for book sales and they might stop selling in their Google Play Android app and turn it into a consumption only app.
There is historical context to back this up. About a decade ago, Apple decided to handle all of their in-app transactions through their own billing system and started to charge 30% for everything sold. Amazon decided to stop offering all sales through their iOS app and turned it into a dedicated reading app. There were no book recommendations or links to the Amazon site to buy. Instead, users had to visit their local Amazon site in an internet browser, buy the Kindle Book, reopen the app, sync for new purchases and then it was possible to read the book. The same thing is happening now with Android, Amazon is going to lose user data, since all transactions will be handled by Google and not Amazon.
Amazon does have an ace up its sleeve. They basically have two Android apps. One is available on Google Play and the other one is optimized for FireOS. If you have a Fire tablet, this is a different app, Amazon handles all of the billing and content delivery and not a third party, like Google. If Amazon does cease to offer in-app transactions on their Google Play App, it could possibly drive sales for their Fire tablets.
Amazon owns Audible, and yesterday, the company announced that it will no longer be selling audiobooks through their Android app anymore and only charge subscriptions for varying amounts of credits. If you want to buy singular audiobooks, you have to visit the Audible website, buy something and then sync it with the app. This makes financial sense for Audible, but not for consumers.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.