I have decided to throw my two cents in (for what it is worth) about a huge controversy going on right now between Amazon/Audible and Indie publishers, authors and narrators. If you have no idea what I am talking about, let me give you a brief rundown….
For most independent narrators, the easiest way to produce an audiobook is through Audible’s ACX.com. You can audition for projects, working with rights holders as you produce the audiobook, and then release the audiobook through ACX to both Audible and iTunes, which we all know corner the market on audiobook sales.
Recently, Audible has been actively promoting this “feature” to lure in new (or returning) customers:
What Audible is not telling you, dear consumer, is that when you return a book using this feature, the royalties that were paid out to the author and the narrator are TAKEN BACK by deducting the returns from new sales. What?? You thought perhaps Amazon would absorb this loss? No way….after all, with their current policy, they still get their membership fees every month. No skin off their backs. Lots of skin off of our backs……
Now, it typically takes me 4 hours to record, edit and master 1 finished hour of work. On an average 6 hour book, I have spent a minimum of 24 hours to complete that book. This does not count the time spent after you have sent it over to the rights holder for approval and they want you to make changes. So, let’s bump that up to 30 hours shall we? I won’t go into all the royalty splits but suffice to say that the royalties paid out by Audible are pretty low. The rights holder usually then has to split that with the narrator unless they have paid them a flat fee upfront. If I earn approximately $2.00 per book on average when it sells, I need to sell hundreds of books just to earn back my “time”.
You, the consumer, decide to purchase the book I narrated. You love it, the story is great, the narration is great, all in all, you are very satisfied with your listening experience. BUT, Audible has a great little feature that lets you exchange that book for another one at any time for up to a YEAR. Effectively, it is like using a library. Are you allowed to eat an entire meal at a restaurant, decide it did not taste good, and go to a DIFFERENT restaurant for a free meal? Of course not! Unfortunately, I think most consumers aren’t AWARE how much using this feature hurts the authors and narrators. I believe that the consumers naivete with this feature is Amazon’s responsibility. If I were using this feature myself, it would not cross my mind that this is harming my favorite authors and narrators.
In the past few months, some ACX narrators, authors, and publishers have reported a huge increase in returns.
A group of disgruntled authors, narrators, and producers have started a Facebook group among other things to share information and plan for how best to ask Audible to change this policy. I particularly want consumers to know that what may seem like a nice deal isn’t coming out of Audible’s pocket, it’s coming out of our pockets.
My hope is that you will share this post and make everyone aware of this struggle. The groups who are fighting this are actually getting somewhere in the fight as more and more consumers become aware of this.
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