After being acquired by U.K-based AudioGo at the end of 2012, Blackstone Audio has turned around and bought all the U.S. assets of AudioGo in a move that effectively ends the nine-month merger. AudioGo’s U.K. assets in Bath are not part of the deal, which gives Craig and Michelle Black, cofounders of Blackstone Audio, total ownership of the American business.
The unwinding of the deal was largely due to problems in the U.K.-side of the business. The U.K. trade publication The Bookseller reported that the U.K. division has suspended operations due to "financial challenges" while it looks for an investment or a sale. According to Josh Stanton, president and CEO of Blackstone Audio, the U.S. arm of AudioGo has been profitable. Since the December 2012 merger, Stanton, who had been responsible for the combined North American Blackstone-AudioGo business, had been overseeing the integration of the two companies, a process that included the downsizing of its North Kingstown, R.I. office. Stanton said that with the new deal, he expects to retain a recording studio in Rhode Island and a New York City office in addition to the Blackstone headquarters in Ashland, Ore. The purchase includes all AudioGo brands and will bring the Blackstone audiobook catalogue to about 9,000 titles. The addition of AudioGo, “grows Blackstone by about 50%,” Stanton noted. Stanton expects that the AudioGo name will be phased out on titles over the next year or so.
Reports about an AudioGo-Blackstone split have been circulating for a couple of weeks—the deal was struck October 8—and Stanton said Blackstone is in the process of informing accounts and the creative community about the deal.