Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hear Hear!

We read in today’s Bookseller ‘Mobile Deal for Random’ of the new audiobook download service from for Random House titles. What is different and refreshing is that they have bypassed any PC or intermediary device and gone straight to where it will win – the mobile phone.

We as expected had to try it out and there are a couple of titles to demonstrate the service and a sample chapter to download for free. Within no time we were listening to The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen. The sound was clear and the information was embedded within the file such that once stored it was instantly displayed.

The best was the fact that Random House true to its earlier statements have gone with a MP3 service and dumped the doomed DRM formats.

Will it take off? We have long held the view that audiobooks must go digital and download. Afterall it the same user experience and less hassle. It has the best chance to do so in our opinion and if others follow will set a trend that will cut the new Amazon Audible honeymoon short. Well done Random House in continuing to show the way forward to what could be a significant market.The sound on the tube and bus will be very different and we may hear an alternative to the thud and hiss of music on mobiles.

Many questions still remain. Will the existing channel be able to sell the service and files or is it a direct only channel? How will it plug into the library channel? Will the pricing change to reflect what people expect to pay or will it still remain linked to the CD and its high costs?

We can now see even more clearly the end of the CD dominance and death of DRM on these files. Lets hope the trade gets behind this bold step; authors, agents, publishers, wholesalers and retailers and others come to open up competition in the market.