Nearly three years after it first announced a 90-day embargo to libraries on its newly published digital audio titles, Blackstone Publishing has announced that it is changing course.
"In a continued effort to increase accessibility of audiobooks, Blackstone Publishing will release all new titles to all retail and library markets simultaneously, in both digital and physical formats, starting on July 1, 2022," reads a note sent to library customers from Blackstone chief sales officer Anne Fonteneau. "Pre-order links on all sites will show up simultaneously wherever books are sold. At launch, Blackstone will release Retail CD, Library CD, MP3-CD and retail and library editions. Digital editions will be available from our digital partners on their first available release date. The Blackstone catalog is available under the perpetual one book/one user model, as well as pay-per-use, multi-use and other models."
Blackstone first announced its 90-day window on new audiobook releases in June 2019, raising concern in the library community. But unlike Macmillan's controversial "test" embargo on new release e-books from its Tor imprint, which went into effect a year earlier in July 2018 over the strong objections of librarians, Blackstone did not appear to be singling out library sales as a threat to consumer sales. Rather, Blackstone's 90-day window was apparently tied to an exclusive deal with Amazon's Audible subscription service.
In a 2019 message to librarians that was shared with PW, a rep for Blackstone explained that the publisher had been "given the opportunity to enter into an exclusive deal" with an unnamed "important strategic partner." That deal, the message explained, required that "audio editions of selected Blackstone Publishing titles" be made available "exclusively in digital format on our strategic partner's platform for 90 days upon initial release."
A review of Audible's catalog later showed a number of forthcoming Blackstone Publishing titles featuring a banner reading "only from Audible," beginning with Blackstone titles publishing the week of July 2, 2019. The move led some libraries to boycott Blackstone titles in protest.
Headquartered in Ashland, Ore., Blackstone Publishing is a one of the nation's most prominent privately owned independent publishing companies.