Amazon already offers more than 100,000 spoken word titles, but says sales could grow faster clip if more titles were available. To that end, the e-tailer revealed this morning that it has acquired Brilliance Audio, the Grand Haven, Mich. independent producer of audiobooks. In addition, Amazon said standard CD and MP3-CD audiobook formats will now be supported by its CustomFlix disc on demand service.
Greg Greeley, v-p of books at Amazon, said both announcements reflect the company’s commitment to expanding the audiobook category. The purchase of Brilliance is intended to give publishers who may not have produced audio in the past a new partner, said Greeley. Brilliance founder Michael Snodgrass, who will continue to direct the company’s operations from Michigan, said Brilliance is prepared to work with publishers to produce audiobooks in "whatever formats and channels customers want." He said he is anticipating a "sizeable" increase in output over the next 12 months as Brilliance begins to work with publishers. All audios will be produced under the Brilliance label and will be sold to all Brilliance accounts. Snodgrass said he didn’t expect a negative reaction from his customers because of the Amazon acquisition. "It’s business as usual," he said.
The expansion of CustomFlix to include spokenword audio will give audio publishers an on demand option for their titles. CustomFlix operates in the same fashion that Amazon’s BookSurge division does for books by storing electronic files of a title that can be manufactured and shipped once the title is ordered. Instead of producing a book like BookSurge, CustomFlix will manufacture spokenword audios. The service can be used for new titles for which there may be a limited market or old titles were demand is fading. "An audio book never has to go out of print," Greeley said.