When I read Publishing News’ item on audiobooksline and its plan to provide audio books to customers on a rental basis, I wondered why this hadn’t been done before – after all, this model works pretty damn well for Netflix with DVDs. But turns out their initiative dates to ten years ago, according to the company’s proprietor Lord Gerald Fitzalan Howard: “[the idea was born] when we introduced our motorway service station scheme which enables drivers to listen to an audiobook while driving and then swap it at a Welcome Break shop.That idea came from two simple observations. Audiobooks are expensive to buy, typically ï¿½16.99 for a bestseller, and only last for a relatively short time – six to eight hours. Also, by their very nature they are a ‘one listen-to product’. They are therefore an ideal product to rent. We are now taking the rental idea one step further, with a subscription service that will enable listeners to get great value audiobooks, but direct to their door.”
And like Netflix, customers can concoct a wish-list of favorite audiobooks. Depending on which subscription band they opt for, they can borrow several titles at one time, listen, return and have their next titles delivered. The bands are: 9.99 pounds for one title at a time, 12.99 for two and 15.99 for three – all for an unlimited number of choices in a month. Royalty strategies are still being worked out, but all concerned are very optimistic about the program’s possibilities. “The UK audio rental market has never been exploited to this extent. This is a great opportunity for us to bring our list to a wider audience and encourage people who may never have bought an audiobook to experiment with a broad range of titles,” said Naxos Audiobooks’ sales & marketing head Mark Scott.