Saturday, September 17, 2005

Simply Audiobooks Uses Netflix Business Model


If you spend a lot of time in your car, chances are you've tried audiobooks. These used to be available on cassette—I remember juggling a multi-cassette version of Frederick Forsyth's The Fourth Protocol, and discovering in mid-tape (300 miles from the dealer in the middle of the desert) that the third cassette was non-functional. Frustrating doesn't begin to cover it.

But audio-tape rental places were everywhere in the 90s, and it was easy enough to get your fix of books by listening to someone else read them.

The deal now is CDs, mp3 versions of those old tapes. The business model that works is the Netflix model, in which users receive the CDs in a mailer, and return them when they're finished, paying a flat fee for the privilege of picking 2, 3 or 4 titles at a time. And Simply Audiobooks has a free trial offer that lets first-time users test the service for 15 days by picking from among nearly 6,000 titles. (That almost rivals my own library!)

For users who are concerned about the use of their information, the company offers a promise on the sign-up screen that states, "Simply Audiobooks will not sell, rent or disclose your email address to anyone, ever. You may easily unsubscribe from our email list." A Mon-Fri phone number is also provided.

The 15-day free trial does require that you submit a credit-card number (like Netflix), and they accept only MasterCard and Visa at this time. Still, if you spend more time behind the wheel than you can in front of the DVD player, Simply Audiobooks is worth a try.

NOTE: I have no account or association with the company Simply Audiobooks.

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