Spotify Rolls Out U.S. Audiobook Service with 300,000 Titles

Spotify is expanding beyond music and podcasts by adding audiobooks. The company is starting out with just over 300,000 titles, available for purchase in the U.S. “This is just the beginning,” says Spotify, promising a geographic expansion. In June, the audio streamer completed its purchase of global audiobooks distributor Findaway, announced last year. The acquisition was designed to make it a major player on entry, competing with Amazon’s Audible, the nation’s biggest audiobook service. Unlike Audible, Spotify is individually pricing audiobook titles and offering them à la carte, not by subscription. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out U.S. Audiobook Service with 300,000 Titles

How the DOJ Antitrust Publishing Lawsuit Relates to Amazon

The nation’s largest publisher, Penguin Random House, was in federal court this week to defend itself against the Justice Department, which filed an antitrust lawsuit to block its acquisition of Simon & Schuster. The DOJ has been increasingly focused on antitrust and is hiring more trial lawyers in preparation for an action against Alphabet’s Google for its dominance in search and digital advertising. Although ostensibly on trial for threatening to shrink the number of American mass-market publishers from five to four, the Penguin suit also involves examination of the retail power of Amazon. Continue reading How the DOJ Antitrust Publishing Lawsuit Relates to Amazon

Amazon Glow on a Mission to Help Families Stay Connected

Following last year’s “invitation only” rollout, Amazon has released the Glow projector for kids in the U.S. The touch-sensitive 19-inch Glow image can be used for gameplay, arts, storytime and more. It also has an 8-inch LCD screen for video calls, making it a way “for little ones to enjoy hands-on activities while adults simultaneously — and remotely — join in the fun” using a free app for smartphones and tablets. The $300 price includes a 1-year Amazon Kids+ subscription featuring thousands of books, games and the ability to chat with popular Disney characters. Continue reading Amazon Glow on a Mission to Help Families Stay Connected

Disney+ Service to Debut in 42 More Countries This Summer

The Disney+ streaming video service, which launched in November 2019 and is already available in 64 countries, plans to launch in 42 additional countries and 11 new territories sometime this summer. The announcement did not include exact release dates or regional pricing, but the scope of the expansion should help the platform jumpstart subscriber growth to better compete with other streaming services such as Netflix and HBO Max. The expansion plans should also steer Disney toward its previously predicted target of 230 million subscribers before the end of 2024. Disney+ already had 118 million global subscribers by the end of last year. Continue reading Disney+ Service to Debut in 42 More Countries This Summer

Spotify Targets Audiobook Market with Purchase of Findaway

Music streaming powerhouse Spotify is expanding its narrative footprint with the acquisition of audiobook distributor Findaway. The purchase brings Spotify a large catalog of audiobooks as well new revenue streams not only through audiobook sales and subscriptions, but through units like Findaway Voices, which provides turnkey services for authors who want their writings recorded. Spotify’s evolution to all-things-audio follows the company’s Q3 announcement that its podcasting business had overtaken market leader Apple in terms of downloads. Spotify says it expects the global audiobook sector to grow from $3.3 billion today to $15 billion by 2027. Continue reading Spotify Targets Audiobook Market with Purchase of Findaway

Google Creates New Entertainment Hub for Walmart Tablets

Google debuted “Entertainment Space,” a feature on the left side of the home screen of Walmart tablets that the company dubs “a one-stop, personalized home for all your favorite movies, shows, videos, games and books.” It is soon to expand to Lenovo, Sharp and other manufacturers’ devices. Google Play product manager James Bender said that with Entertainment Space users will “save time and avoid having to hop between apps to try to figure out what to do.” Each family members can have their own profile on the hub. Continue reading Google Creates New Entertainment Hub for Walmart Tablets

Online Bookshop Intends to Support Local, Indie Bookstores

In January, small press publisher Andy Hunter started an independent online book platform as an alternative to Amazon. His idea was that even if he captured a tiny fraction of Amazon’s sales, he could be successful. In fact, he told prospective investors that he could reach $30 million in annual sales in a mere two years, a figure that seemed fanciful at the time. But when COVID-19 struck, hundreds of other bookstore owners joined his site, and Bookshop is on track to reap over $40 million in sales this year. Continue reading Online Bookshop Intends to Support Local, Indie Bookstores

Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Amazon debuted a new version of its Echo Dot Kids Edition and several notable changes to its FreeTime Unlimited subscription service for children’s content. The new Echo Dot for children offers a new fabric case, including two colors — blue and rainbow stripes — both not available for the adult version. It is 70 percent louder than the first version, as is the new Echo Dot. The new Kids Edition will begin shipping June 26 for $69.99, $10 less than the first Kids Edition and will include access to FreeTime Unlimited for one year. Continue reading Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Amazon has opened a brick-and-mortar retail store, dubbed Amazon 4-star, in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Amazon 4-star is so named because it will carry goods — starting off with consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books and games — that shoppers have rated with at least four stars, are sold by top sellers or are “new and trending.” This physical retail store joins Amazon’s 12+ bookstores and a few cashierless Go convenience stores, as well as the Whole Foods grocery stores it acquired. Continue reading Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Amazon Will Extend its Popular Prime Day Sale to 36 Hours

Amazon just announced that its annual Prime Day anniversary sale will offer discounts for a full day and a half this time around. Starting July 16 at 3:00 pm ET and running through July 17, Prime Day 2018 will feature special bargains for its Prime members. Traditionally, the event has offered deals on everything from Amazon’s own Kindle, Fire TV and Echo devices to a wide range of televisions, computers, game consoles, home appliances, clothing, jewelry, furnishings, toys, books, and more. In the past, Lightning Deals introduced steep discounts on specific products for a short period of time. Continue reading Amazon Will Extend its Popular Prime Day Sale to 36 Hours

Amazon Show Mode Converts Fire Tablets into Echo Shows

Amazon is introducing the Show Mode Charging Dock to provide an easy charge for the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 while keeping them propped up. To debut in a software update on July 2, new Show Mode features will also essentially turn these tablets into a portable Echo Show with weather, time, and news displays in addition to hands-free voice control via Alexa. Putting the tablet on the dock, which aligns via magnets, launches Show Mode; the tablet reverts back to its standard tablet interface when the user removes it from the dock. Continue reading Amazon Show Mode Converts Fire Tablets into Echo Shows

The Obamas Are the Latest to Sign Production Deal with Netflix

Netflix yesterday announced a multi-year partnership with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to produce original content for the streaming service. The Obamas created production company Higher Ground Productions for the Netflix deal, which is reportedly valued in the high eight figures. According to Netflix, the partnership may include scripted, unscripted and docu-series, in addition to documentary and feature films. Two months ago, the Obamas signed a joint book deal with Penguin Random House worth a reported $65 million for their respective memoirs. Continue reading The Obamas Are the Latest to Sign Production Deal with Netflix

Walmart in Talks to Buy Into Indian E-Commerce Site Flipkart

Walmart is negotiating to acquire a majority stake in Flipkart, India’s leading e-retailer; sources say the deal could “be announced soon” although “exact terms are not yet final and the talks are fluid.” Flipkart would be valued at $20 billion, according to two of the sources, and Walmart hopes to purchase at least a 60 percent stake in the company. Although buying a majority stake in Flipkart would open up a vast new market for Walmart, which is in heated competition with Amazon, some analysts say the move is risky. Continue reading Walmart in Talks to Buy Into Indian E-Commerce Site Flipkart

Apple Reportedly Prepping a Subscription-Based News Product

According to sources, Apple, which acquired the magazine app Texture, now plans to integrate it into Apple News and launch it as a premium subscription product. Texture let users subscribe to more than 200 magazines for $9.99 per month. Apple cut 20 Texture employees, and brought the rest onto the Apple News team. The premium subscription version of Apple News, which will reportedly debut in the next year, will give publishers a cut of the subscription revenue. Apple did not comment on the story. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Prepping a Subscription-Based News Product

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