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Summary:

Digital audiobooks site Audible.com is ending the 18-month-old program that gave authors $1 for every audiobook sold.

Audible audiobook
photo: Audible.com

In April 2012, the Amazon-owned digital audiobooks site Audible.com launched a program called “Audible Author Services” that gave authors $1 for every sale through Audible.com, Audible.co.uk and iTunes, out of a $20 million fund. Audible is now shutting that program down as of June 30, after telling me in December that it would continue “for the foreseeable future.”

Here’s the email authors received today:

“Dear [Author],

On June 30, we will be ending the $1 honoraria program. You will receive your final quarterly $1 honoraria report and check for April 1 – June 30 2013 in late August. From the outset, the $1 honoraria was only slated to be a one-year program to make you more aware of your audiobooks and their place in your growing book portfolio, alongside print books and eBooks. We are particularly grateful for your participation and feedback over the life of the program. Thanks to your insights, we’ve been able to launch new programs and features to better support all authors, including a sales dashboard for authors who make their titles available through ACX.com and distribution of free author copies of your audiobooks as they are released.

We hope you use this last month (June) to promote your audio heavily to earn those extra dollars. And even after the program has ended, we sincerely hope you continue to promote your audiobook anywhere and everywhere to generate royalties from audiobook sales at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Authors are doing creative things to promote their books. Audible’s ACX blog (http://blog.acx.com) is full of innovative ideas and success stories to promote your book.

We also encourage you to make sure all of your books – frontlist and backlist – are available as audiobooks. If you need help producing your work in audio, explore ACX (www.acx.com), where thousands of authors have linked up with actors and studios to get their books into the audiobook format. So check your backlist now; Audible’s Author Services team will still be here to help you get your audiobooks produced using ACX. And when you produce an audiobook on ACX, you get access to a sales dashboard that’s updated daily, high per-unit royalties, bonus bounty payments, and so much more.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Jason Ojalvo
Vice President, Author Services
Audible Inc.”

“As you know, programs like this one do have a lifespan, and we initially forecast Audible Author Services through the end of 2012, but kept it going longer because it was so successful in getting some authors to recognize the value of their audiobooks and to raise awareness of their audiobooks alongside their print and ebooks,” Audible’s Matthew Thornton told me. “We’ve now shifted our focus to testing the potential of some other innovative author-focused programs, and you may well see a variation on Audible Author Services down the road.”

In an FAQ still posted on its website, Audible says it launched Audible Author Services because “It’s the right thing to do. There’s nothing much more challenging or meaningful than writing a good book” and “We want to foster direct relationships with more authors. We have had great success working directly with authors, and these partnerships have led to audience expansion and greater consumption of audiobooks.”

  1. Glad Ms. Owen reported this. Seems very short sighted and UN-Bezos like. Audible pays 15% of list and Kindle pays 70% over $2.99. Same company; remarkably different deals. This will invite a lot of new competition for authors/publishers. Makes Dunkirk look like a victory.

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  2. Ms. Owens should get a quote from Mr. Bezos on this. First question, “Did you know about this?” Follow up, “What do think of it?” If he knew about it in advance, then it is a major shift in Amazon strategy and the investment world in general would be most interested. If not, then it will be equally interesting if he thinks it important enough to do something about. Standing by….

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  3. I was not aware of the “dollar honorarium” program. Can you explain where the audio books will now be sold, and whether the standard commissions are still applicable after 6-30? My guess is the audio books will now be distributed through Amazon only, but the article is vague on where Audible audio books will continue to exist.

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    1. Nothing changes except that authors do not get the dollar. Audible is a terrific company and works hard to help all stakeholders. This is a big change that may have significant impact upon Amazon as well as Audible, its wholly owned subsidiary. If a logical move, it is part of an effort to try to cut Amazon losses by cutting their expenses. As a publisher, we wish they had just raised their very low retail prices to earn enough to pay our authors and put some in their own coffers to boost their profitability to help everyone!

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      1. Lol, well, as a publisher, you WOULD vote to charge customers more. ;)

        As a customer, though, I’m glad they didn’t, especially since audiobook prices are already on average higher than print and ebook editions. I’m sure publishers would be quick to remind us of the additional costs of producing audio’s, such as the narrators and production team, but I’m not convinced that adds up to more than what they’re saving by not having to print or distribute them to brick and mortar stores. And of course I know that publishers like to come up with fancy arguments for why they’re NOT saving signicantly by cutting out such costs, – same argument they use for why ebook prices still have to remain so high – but I don’t think consumers have a lot of faith in those arguments.

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        1. They charge $1.95 for our lower cost audiobooks versus $2.99 for eBooks on Kindle. This is a lot lower than our physical audiobooks at $3.99 and up. So audible.com already offers fantastic pricing. Ditto Kindle. See audible.com under Simply Magazine to check these facts. Just would be nice if they could continue paying the authors something.

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          1. Without the authors, you have nothing. If anyone deserves payment, it’s the person who creates the product you sell. Cutting out the payment to the authors, huh. Any wonders why your business failed?

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