eMusic, the online music subscription service that launched in the late '90s, is rebranding and relaunching its audiobook program under the new name eStories.
The subscription service will offer over 80,000 titles, unlimited cloud storage and allow customers to listen to their content on up to 10 devices. The relaunch follows the purchase of eMusic by Triplay in the fall.
eMusic entered the audiobook market in 2007, when it added audiobooks to its stable of digital music offerings. Although eMusic remained in the audiobook market, it was a very small player. With eStories, eMusic is dramatically increasing its investment in audiobooks.
The company is touting eStories as a low-cost alternative to the more dominant players in the audiobook market, the biggest of which is Amazon-owned Audible, with monthly subscription plans that begin at $11.99. (Audible's subscription plans, which come with an initial free month, start at $14.95.)
Although the launch of eStories comes on the heels of Audible's unveiling last week of a curated, streaming audiobook service called Channels, eStories is clearly meant to compete with iTunes and Audible's premium service. (Channels, which is free to existing Audible members and can be purchased by non-members for $4.95 a month, features a range of short form audio content, from comedy monologues to narrated newspaper articles.)
Speaking to eStories, eMusic said it was created using feedback from "audiobook enthusiasts, publishers, and industry insiders." The company emphasized that the service was built with an eye towards helping users discover new content. To this end, eMusic touted the fact that eStories allows customers to stream and download titles, including DRM-free ones, to its branded app.
Through an agreement with audiobook retailer Findaway, eStories features titles from all of the Big Five houses; eStories also features reviews, author bios and a notes mode (so users can keep track of favorite titles).
"We’ve wanted to get into the booming audiobook business for many years," explained Tamir Koch, CEO of eMusic. He added: "It is a great companion to our other services and perfectly suited to our technology, digital media experience and ability to offer the same unlimited cloud storage our users have enjoyed for years.”
The downloadable audiobook market has experienced strong growth in recent years as more consumers use their digital devices to listen to books. Last year, sales rose about 37% over 2014.