Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Amazon's ACX Attempts to Kick Start Audio
Amazon’s Audible arm has launched ACX, Audiobook Creation Exchange. It’s a sort of rights marketplace for audiobooks that connects actors and rights holders and publishers and provides a distribution and marketplace for the finished works on Audible's system. ACX is a kind of one stop shop which handles contracts, tracks and distributes works and pays royalties - a self publishing exchange. Audio rightsholders can post the availability of works whose audiobook rights are unused and producers, publishers, narrators and actors can bid on these.
Rights holders can sell the audio rights for a flat fee or split royalties equally, with royalty rates varying based on sales and whether the rights holder chooses Audible as the audiobook’s exclusive distributor. In addition, there is an additional revenue stream of $25 earned every time a audiobook is one of the first three titles purchased by an AudibleListener member.
Random House, Harper, Wiley and Pearson Education, as well as Writers House are early participants. With the vast majority of books audio rights sitting locked away and not being exercised, it begs the question of how big the market is and whether there is a sufficient pent up latent demand for audio books or whether they remain relatively niche market? The biggest issue has always been production and with it the associated cost. If Audible are going to facilitate making production easier and by means of an exchange driving costs down that may help, but what once was thought to be an early digital opportunity is still searching to make it.