TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Web Audio Book Leader Faces Competition

Web Audio Book Leader Faces Competition

Monty Solomon (
Sun, 31 Jul 2005 21:06:17 -0400

By JEFFREY GOLD AP Business Writer

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Mary Lou Kalbow started listening to books while
driving a five-hour rural postal route in Minnesota about five years
ago. Now she downloads titles by Janet Evanovich, Jonathan Kellerman
and James Patterson to her portable MP3 player and listens all day
while she works as a massage therapist.

"I like to be entertained. Mystery, action, a love story. Something
that keeps me on the edge of my seat," said Kalbow, 52.

Kalbow is one of the thousands of devotees of Audible Inc., a pioneer
in the listenable literature business that remains the Internet's top
provider of audio books.

The company is about to need plenty more people like her.

Just as Audible is finally beginning to show profits, the prospect of
stiff competition looms from Inc., a partner that now plans
to launch its own audio book store.

Another loss came with the departure of National Public Radio, whose
programs are no longer available to download from Audible's Web site.

Many investors revolted when Audible plowed several million dollars in
revenue back into developing such services as partnerships with XM
Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc. for taking
audio books on the road, including on next-generation cell phones.


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