Amazon is betting big on digital media. This morning it announced the $300 million acquisition of Audible (a 7 percent premium to Audible’s $280 million market cap at the time of this writing). Audible is the leading provider of audio books in digital form, with a library of 80,000 titles.I find this interesting for a couple of reasons.
First, back when Amazon was just starting out, I figured they would go from selling books, CDs and VHS (these were the pre DVD days) to ebooks, MP3s and digital downloads of movies. Instead of progressing from atoms to bits they went another route and added more physical products: electronics, apparel, and home and garden products. Now it looks like they are finally getting serious about digital downloads with the Kindle ebook, DRM free MP3s, Unbox Movie and TV downloads and, now with this purchase of Audible, downloadable audio books.
Second, Audible has a subscription feature, where you can pay a certain amount per month and get a certain amount of books (at a discount to their normal price). I am a big fan of the subscription model, and would like to see Amazon get into this further with a subscription plan for their books, newspapers and blogs on the Kindle. The one difference I would like to see is that they should sell unlimited access for a certain amount per month, rather than just a discount in return for purchasing a book every month. (This idea is not to be confused with this book rental idea, commented on over at Digg.)
Third, over at Kindleville they have a great idea:
Wouldn't it be cool if the book you just purchased for your Kindle was a hybrid, offering you the option of reading it yourself or having it read to you by someone with a nice, pleasant voice? Since the Kindle is already much more sophisticated than a simple MP3 player, why not design this feature so that the audio and written words are in sync? You read for a couple of hours and your eyes get a bit tired, so you press a button to switch to audio.Now, with the purchase of Audible this becomes a whole lot easier to do.