Audiobook market opens up as Apple and Amazon end exclusivity deal

Letting the little guys in

After ten years, Amazon’s audiobook division Audible and Apple have agreed to end their exclusivity agreement which restricted third party distribution of audiobooks to iTunes. 

The agreement proved hugely beneficial to both Audible and Apple as it allowed them to dominate the audiobook market. 

However, in November 2015 it was brought to the attention of the European Commission by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association that the deal was proving problematic for smaller publishers and booksellers as Amazon and Apple were establishing a monopoly. 

Open ears

Considering that at the time of the complaint Audible had around a 90% market share of the German audiobook business, the concerns weren’t unfounded.

After more than a year of discussion between Apple, Amazon, the EC, and the German Federal Cartel Office, the European Commission has now confirmed that Amazon and Apple have agreed to terminate their deal. 

This doesn’t mean Apple and Audible will have to stop supplying and distributing together, but it does mean Apple will now be able to supply audiobooks from places other than Audible and Audible will be able to distribute its audiobooks to digital platforms other than iTunes.

This opens up the European audiobook market significantly and as a result consumers should see the benefit of more choice and possibly more competitive pricing, too.