Audible, Chooseco Team on Interactive Tales via Alexa Skill

Amazon’s Audible and Chooseco have collaborated on two new “choose your own adventure” children’s audiobooks. Available on Amazon Alexa-enabled devices via Chooseco’s Choose skill, “The Abominable Snowman” and “Journey Under the Sea,” designed by the two teams, feature professional voice actors and can be navigated by voice commands. The two stories together offer 65 different endings and, on Alexa devices with screens, show illustrations for story beats. Decision-making points in the story are signaled by a sound. Continue reading Audible, Chooseco Team on Interactive Tales via Alexa Skill

Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

Amazon and Microsoft gave a public demonstration of the integration of Alexa and Cortana into all Echo speakers and to all Windows 10 users. That means that a user can ask Windows 10’s Cortana to open Alexa, and ask Alexa on Echo speakers to open Cortana. This integration is now available to most users but will completely roll out around the country over the next week, said a Microsoft spokesperson. Some features, such as streaming music, audiobooks and news flashes will not be available at launch. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Amazon is introducing the $80 Echo Dot Kids Edition with FreeTime services. Intended for children ages 5 to 12, the modified Echo Dot features a brightly colored, protective rubber case; kid-friendly content from the likes of Audible, Disney and iHeartRadio; and parental controls such as time limits, activity review and content filtering. Users can wake up to alarms based on characters from Disney, Nickelodeon and others. The speaker, which is available for pre-order and starts shipping May 9, includes the same two-year replacement guarantee that Amazon rolled out for its Fire tablets for kids. Continue reading Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Audible and Amazon Continue to Dominate Audiobook Market

Audiobook sellers like Amazon-owned Audible are competing for the ears, not eyes, of book lovers. And they’re showing promise. In 2016, audiobook sales climbed to $2.1 billion, representing an 18 percent jump from the previous year (the format experienced a 26.2 percent sales increase during the first three quarters of 2017). Audible represents about 41 percent of all audiobook sales, and when paired with Amazon, which sells audiobooks directly through its website, the two make up more than half of the market. Audible’s library includes 400,000 titles and its annual subscriber growth is in the double digits.

Continue reading Audible and Amazon Continue to Dominate Audiobook Market

Amazon and Apple Turn Up the Heat in the Audiobook Market

According to the Association of American Publishers, in the first eight months of 2017, based on data from 1,200 publishers, revenue from audiobooks grew 20 percent, compared to print books sales increasing a mere 1.5 percent and e-books losing 5.4 percent. Amazon, which bought Audible in 2008, has been the dominant player, with Audible carving out a unique and profitable portion of the market. But Apple is now attempting to take on its rival with a redesigned iBooks e-book reading application for iPhones and iPads. Continue reading Amazon and Apple Turn Up the Heat in the Audiobook Market

Amazon Opens Bookstore in NYC, Plans Six More This Year

Amazon just opened its seventh bookstore, a 4,000 square foot space, in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan at the heart of the publishing industry. Nearby is the site of a bygone Borders bookstore in addition to publishers such as Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group. Amazon has committed to opening a chain of brick-and-mortar bookstores around the country, an irony given that the company’s online sale of books is often cited as a major factor in the demise of many bookstores nationwide. Continue reading Amazon Opens Bookstore in NYC, Plans Six More This Year

Amazon Debuts Budget Phones Loaded with Apps and Widgets

Amazon unveiled two new Android smartphones for its Prime members, the BLU Products R1 HD and 4th generation Lenovo Moto G. Both phones, dubbed Prime Exclusives, are subsidized by Amazon ads: the R1 HD starts at $50 unlocked, $100 and up without the discount; the Moto G starts at $150 unlocked, $200 and up without the discount. With the discount, the Prime Exclusive phones include Amazon apps, services and ads, the latter appearing on the lock screen. The user has to forego the discount to get rid of the ads. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Budget Phones Loaded with Apps and Widgets

Amazon Expands Its Audible Programming to Include Podcasts

Amazon is recruiting comedians, radio producers, engineers, marketers and lawyers for almost 100 positions in the company’s growing Audible division. Audible currently offers more than 250,000 audiobooks and plays, but the new hires suggest that Amazon is investing in more original programming. Prominent comedians like Maria Bamford and Jonathan Katz, as well as producers from NPR, WNYC and the radio show “Fresh Air,” have already joined the Audible team. Continue reading Amazon Expands Its Audible Programming to Include Podcasts

Scribd Adds 9,000 Audiobooks to E-Book Subscription Service

Subscription service Scribd — the “Netflix for books” — now has 45,000 audiobooks in its library after striking a deal with Penguin Random House Audio. The new titles include popular works by Lena Dunham, John Grisham, and George R. R. Martin. According to Scribd, audiobooks have doubled the time users spend reading on the service. Audiobooks also help bolster Scribd’s catalog, which currently does not include digital books from two major publishers: Penguin Random House and Hachette. Continue reading Scribd Adds 9,000 Audiobooks to E-Book Subscription Service

Oyster Boosts Subscription Service with Digital eBook Store

Oyster recently announced it plans to start offering customers the option to buy select books that may not otherwise be included as a part of the company’s all-you-can-read subscription service. With its new offering, the company hopes to compete with major e-book retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Despite having deals with three major publishers, Oyster’s e-book subscription service has been missing key titles from publishing companies such as Random House and Hachette.  Continue reading Oyster Boosts Subscription Service with Digital eBook Store

E-Book Subscription Service Scribd Now Includes Comic Books

Scribd customers now have unlimited access to some of the biggest names in comic books. The startup added comic books and graphic novels to its catalog of e-books and audiobooks that subscribers pay to access for $8.99 per month. Scribd currently has more than 100 million subscribers worldwide and over one million e-books, audiobooks and comic books. Marvel, Archie and Valiant are just a few of the comic book publishers that have signed on to offer their titles via Scribd. Continue reading E-Book Subscription Service Scribd Now Includes Comic Books

Scribd Offers Unlimited Access to Audiobooks via Subscription

Scribd recently announced that in addition to its collection of e-books, subscribers now have access to a compilation of over 30,000 audiobooks. The company is one of the first e-book companies to have implemented a monthly subscription fee in exchange for unlimited access to its content. Joining the likes of models offered by Netflix and Spotify, Scribd subscribers can pay a monthly fee of $8.99 to access all available e-books and audiobooks belonging to the service’s catalog.  Continue reading Scribd Offers Unlimited Access to Audiobooks via Subscription

Amazon Expands Entertainment Offerings with Comedy Service

As part of its continued media and digital content expansion to take on companies such as Netflix, Amazon is set to acquire online comedy service Rooftop Media. The service gives viewers access to live and on demand recorded content from comedy acts across the country. While specifics of the deal remain undisclosed, the 10-person company will be acquired by Audible, a growing seller of online audiobooks that Amazon purchased in 2008 for $300 million. Continue reading Amazon Expands Entertainment Offerings with Comedy Service

Amazon Announces its Kindle Unlimited, the Netflix for Books

Amazon announced its new Kindle Unlimited, a $9.99 per month unlimited reading and listening service that provides access to more than 600,000 Kindle books and thousands of audiobooks from Audible. It will be available for the Kindle as well as iOS and Android mobile devices through the Amazon Kindle app. Analysts suggest that the service, which will compete with existing ebook subscription services Scribd and Oyster, could spark as much as $1 billion in growth for Amazon. Continue reading Amazon Announces its Kindle Unlimited, the Netflix for Books