Brilliance Audio, the Grand Haven, Mich., audiobook publisher, has acquired Soulmate Audiobooks of Spring Lake, Mich., for an undisclosed price. Founded in 2002, Soulmate is a publisher, manufacturer and distributor specializing in the MP3-CD audio format. Prior to the acquisition, Brilliance had been working with Soulmate to convert all Brilliance's titles to MP3-CD; acquisitions talks began several months ago.

Soulmate products conform to the listener-friendly audiobook standards jointly developed by the Consumer Electronics Association and the Audio Publishers Association as well as to the specifications of DAISY, the consortium that promotes standards for audio products used by those with visual impairments. In a statement, Brilliance president and publisher Michael Snodgrass noted that Soulmate brings "cutting-edge technology" to Brilliance, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Soulmate will continue as a research and development arm and, according to Snodgrass, "act as a service bureau for the audio publishing industry" as other companies make MP3 conversions.

Brilliance also announced an agreement with OverDrive that will make all Brilliance audiobook titles available as downloads for retail purchase or library patron checkouts via OverDrive's online network. Currently, OverDrive outlets include such digital bookshops and public library Web sites as Adobe Digital Media Store, WH Smith, and King County Library System in Washington State.

"Our partnership will quickly expand the availability of audiobooks to a wider market of new and current users, increasing the format's popularity and acceptance," commented OverDrive CEO Steve Potash.

OverDrive and Brilliance anticipate that downloads of Brilliance titles will begin in early autumn 2004. OverDrive will offer demonstrations of digital Brilliance Audiobooks in its booth at BookExpo America.