Amazon blocks new audiobooks from public libraries?
One of my readers, Deborah Meyer, gave me a heads-up on an interesting story.
According to this communication from Overdrive reproduced by Infodocket:
Brilliance Audio (acquired by Amazon in 2007…Press Release) “…will suspend the availability of all download audiobook titles across all vendors…” on January 31st, 2012.
Licenses for titles already in the system will stay there, but purchasing additional licenses (for the same or different titles) will not be possible, according to that communication.
When the publisher Penguin recently restricted Overdrive access, there was a lot of pushback. People don’t like the idea of books (e-books, audiobooks or other) not being made available to public libraries.
Macmillan and Simon & Schuster don’t license e-books to libraries at all.
HarperCollins restricts the number of check-outs.
Honestly, this just doesn’t feel like an Amazon move to me, but I know that’s just my emotional reaction based on having had a good personal relationship with Amazon as a customer.
Of course, Amazon wasn’t in the Overdrive system for e-books for quite a while after people with NOOKs and Sony Readers were able to get them.
This does seem like a dramatic change. Brilliance has promoted its connection to libraries in the past:
However, when I look at the
I’m not seeing anything from Brilliance in any of the categories they list.
I see a few possibilities here:
- Amazon is doing something substantial to Brilliance overall, and this is just part of that
- Amazon is doing something dramatic with its relationship with Overdrive…maybe setting up some distribution of its own with public libraries? Overdrive really dominates that market right now
- Amazon is going to add Brilliance audiobooks to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). Amazon has indicated that Prime members were going to get additional benefits. This might make a lot of sense: It could introduce people to audiobooks. It takes a long time to go through an audiobook…which would reduce the number of “borrows” from the KOLL, which improves the profitability for Amazon. It makes the KOLL more attractive, which sells more Kindles (people with Kindle apps can’t use the KOLL, currently), and gets more Prime members, which sells more “diapers and windshield wipers”. Of course, it wouldn’t automatically mean that the books couldn’t also be available to public libraries, so this might be it. I can imagine there having been a negotiation with rightsholders…”We’ll put you in the KOLL and drop you from public libraries.”
- This could just be temporary while some contract negotiation with Overdrive is worked out
I have written to Brilliance this morning, asking for a statement.
I’m also interested in your thoughts on this, especially if you work for a public library…or if you use one for audiobooks. If this Amazon/Brilliance simply withdrawing from Overdrive, how would that affect your perception of the company? Would you use audiobooks as part of the KOLL? Are audiobooks a significant part of your book experience? Feel free to comment on this post and let me know.
Update: One of my readers, Mary, made the good point that this apparently doesn’t impact audiobooks on CD, just digital downloads. Interestingly, those presumably work outside the Overdrive ecosystem…
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.