Monday, June 2, 2008

Amazon, the Kindle, and Audiobooks

Here's a New York Times report on the eBook buzz at BEA, focusing on Amazon's Kindle. The Times asks if eBooks have reached the tipping point. But let's not forget that the Kindle can also be used as an audiobook player , downloading titles through Audible. Perhaps another question to ask might be "What are Amazon's plans for integrating audiobooks into upgrades of the Kindle?" It seems that there is a pretty clear path: Amazon adds audiobooks to their digital download store. Amazon buys Brilliance Audio, gaining an audiobook production arm. Amazon buys Audible, gaining audiobook download distribution expertise. Amazon hires key audiobook producers - Tim Ditlow from Listening Library and Madeline McIntosh from Random House. This year's Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year (presented by the Audio Publishers Association), The Chopin Manuscript is an original production (not based on a printed book) from Audible (now owned by Amazon) that is only available as a digital download. What's next? Perhaps using the Kindle as a display for picture book readalongs or as a way to integrate photos & illustrations for an eBook/audiobook package for nonfiction titles, as in this post? Will the Amazon connection accelerate the move to downloads only, just as CDs heralded the death of cassettes?

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