Amazon may come under fire for their dominant position in ebooks, but they are number one for more reasons than just price aggression. Not all retailers can leverage the various versions of books to their advantage like Amazon can, and they’re showcasing it with their new “Whispersync for Voice” upgrades program.
Amazon owns Audible.com, and so they can offer a combination deal on select Kindle books-buy the Kindle book, and add the audiobook for an additional cost. Prices seem to range from $0.99 to around $12.99, with newer and more popular titles being pricier. The idea is that you can start reading on your Kindle app, switch to the audiobook, and flip back to the book again later, and the combined cost of both audiobook and ebook is still cheaper than buying both separately.
I browsed my Kindle collection, and found a fair number of titles available. Some of them appear to be titles I grabbed when they were freebies, which is pretty smart. Amazon gave me a free book, and then offers the chance for me to pay for an “upgrade”; if even a few people snag that, it offsets the cost of offering titles for free in ebook form as a promotion. Effectively, this whole program is a way to add an upgrade to books, which have historically not been items you can monetize post-sale. You can suggest similar titles or otherwise push new purchases, but it’s a fascinating twist to offer a whole new format for the book as a bundled purchase.
I can’t imagine everyone will take Amazon up on these offers, but Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice Upgrades eBooks to Audiobooks a lot of potential. My wife and I use audiobooks for long car trips, and so I could actually see us using these in the reverse than Amazon pitches it. We’d buy the Kindle and audiobook version, but use the Kindle version as a fallback if we finished our trip before the audiobook was done, rather than as a Kindle book with an audio component. Still, no matter how you slice it, this is a pretty impressive value for the money. If Apple is serious about iBooks, I would imagine they’re considering the same idea. Maybe this could lead to a renaissance in audiobooks!