Two audiobook publishers, The Reader's Chair, Hollister, Calif., and Blackstone Audiobooks, Ashland, Ore., have separately decided to offer audiobook titles in the MP3-CD format, in addition to cassette and CD. The Reader's Chair plans to issue its entire catalogue in the MP3-CD format. Blackstone currently offers 40 titles in the MC3-CD format, and plans to release an additional 10 to 15 titles each month, both frontlist and backlist.
An MP3-CD can hold up to 12 hours of audio, enabling publishers to fit an unabridged title on a single disc. The discs can be played on an MP3-CD player, as well as on most computers and laptops.
"Because we can fit up to 12 hours on one CD, audio books in this format cost much less to duplicate and package than cassette editions," said Delia White, owner of The Reader's Chair. "Consequently, we are able to offer them at very reasonable prices. In this format, listeners can now own these stellar performances for about the same price as the hardcover."
MP3-CDs offer other advantages as well. "MP3 audio has a wider frequency range than cassettes do," said White. "Bookmarking is easy, as each audio book is divided into scenes—the way the author intended. Users can navigate through their audiobooks with just a click of a mouse or press of a button."
White's Web site, readerschair.com, offers links to sites that sell MP3 players and adapters. Listeners can also download MP3 excerpts and a complete short story from the site.
Blackstone marketing director Paul Coughlin is also enthusiastic about the format. "Customers can purchase a new portable CD player plus an MP3 CD for around the same price of one audiobook in standard CD format," he said. "Our new product saves audio customers between 60%—80%, promotes safer driving habits [because listeners don't need to change the disc to hear more of the audiobook] and is also attractive to bookstores since it only takes up as much shelf space as a music CD."