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ePublish a Book » Book Promotion » The Price of Cutting Price in Audio-Book Recording – Part 1 – The Amazon-Audible- ACX conundrum

The Price of Cutting Price in Audio-Book Recording – Part 1 – The Amazon-Audible- ACX conundrum

Recording an AudiobookThe Price of Cutting Price in Audio-Book Recording – Part 1 – The Amazon-Audible- ACX conundrum

Turning your ebook/printbook into an audio-book might be a good idea to gain readership as the audiobook market is steadily growing to accommodate the needs of commuters and joggers and many others.

Yet, the cost of recording an audiobook easily gets into 4 figures and is a powerful deterrent for self-published writers to wade into the golden waters of self-publishing an audio-book. offers potential collaborations with narrators, either fee based or royalty share based. At first sight, the royalty share system seems to be an ideal option for writers, as it implies the production costs for the audiobook will be shouldered by the narrator. Yet, this seemingly sweet deal has to be analyzed more in-depth.

Imagine a situation where your book is already doing well in print/digital format, well enough to entice a narrator to invest time and effort in your book in hope of future returns on sales. Agreeing to an exclusive deal with ACX, with distribution on Audible, Amazon and iTunes yields a 50% royalties share, or 25% for the author and 25% for the narrator. Not as good as Amazon 70%, but not bad at all on the face of it.

However, ACX is owned by none other than Amazon, and so is Audible, meaning Amazon ultimately decides on the policy to follow, and Amazon’s first order of preference is the reader, not the writer nor the narrator.

For the author/narrator team to have a fighting chance of making money form an audio-book, the price has to be higher than that of the print or digital version. As always, Amazon, through ACX, leaves the writer (and narrator) free to choose the selling price of their product. Then it is just a matter of effectively marketing the audio-book and see the money pour in. Or so it seems…

There is a little flaw in this apparently idyllic model. It even has a name. It is called “Whispersync”. In case you are unfamiliar with Whispersync, it is a nifty piece of technology that allows readers to switch back and forth between reading a Kindle book and listening to the companion Audible audio-book without losing your place.

How does such a practical gadget interfere with the author/narrator loss of revenue on audiobook sales, you wonder…

Well, it is actually very simple. Amazon and ACX being two faces of the same giant, when ACX smiles at the narrator and entices him or her with promises of boundless bounties, Amazon smiles at the reader with promises of endless delights at ridiculous prices.

So, Amazon decided that every audio version of your book uploaded through ACX will be made available to your ebook buyer for a symbolic added fee of $1.99 when they buy your ebook. There goes the freedom you had to determine the price for your audiobook…

Of course, the standalone audiobook version will still be priced at $15.99 or so on Audible, but who would want to pay, say $4.99 for the ebook and then pay an additional $15.99 for the audio version, taking the pain to buy it from a different selling outlet when the option to buy both from the same place at a combined price of $6.98? One in a million…

Though, as far as the writer is concerned, earnings will keep growing from the sale of the digital book, good, professional narrators are unlikely to fall into that trap too many times and will soon revert to fee paying recording deals, eschewing the royalty share options.

This leaves a large number of unprofessional narrators, some of them rare finds but most of them mediocre at best, ready to invest their free time either for the sheer pleasure of recording a book they love of in the hope of some material gain.

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