Libro.fm takes aim at Audible

As Amazon chief Bezos testifies before Congress, the indie audiobook provider blasts ‘Exclusive’ content

Audiobook seller Libro.fm targeted Amazon’s Audible platform in a blog, email blast and Twitter thread this week. Libro.fm, which allows customers to purchase audiobooks from independent booksellers, argued that Amazon monopolizes the industry through exclusive licenses. That means some audiobook publishers release certain books only on Audible. 

“We are fiercely independent and we oppose Amazon’s efforts to prevent independent bookstores and libraries from providing certain audiobooks, called Audible Exclusives,” the company charged in a blog post.

Not to be confused with Audible Originals, which have Audible-exclusive content similar to  Netflix making its own series, Audible Exclusives are audiobooks that are only available with a monthly Audible subscription plan. No other providers can sell or distribute Audible Exclusives, including bookstores and libraries.

Such titles include bestsellers like Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Authors, booksellers and consumers took to Twitter to comment on the practice.

“Amazon’s monopoly is not incidental. It’s part of their strategy. The fact that it feels so hard for you to quit them is the entire point. They want it to be that way. And if we don’t fight it, it’s going to get harder and harder and the stakes will be higher and higher,” writer Eve Ewing said in a lengthy thread, citing Libro.fm’s original tweet.

“Is there a word for grief as it relates to being very interested in a story only to find out it’s an Audible exclusive,” tweeted writer Becky Dingwell.

The call-out came as Amazon king Jeff Bezos testified before Congress this week about this very issue — whether tech giants Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple harm competition.

“The Raven values being an *independent* small business. We answer to no corporation, only to our booksellers & customers. When Amazon says they support small businesses, they mean that they only support the kind of small businesses they can control and squeeze for cash,” the Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas, tweeted, in one of many threads addressing the testimony.

Bezos, meanwhile, said he welcomed scrutiny.

“I believe Amazon should be scrutinized,” he testified July 29. “We should scrutinize all large institutions, whether they’re companies, government agencies, or non-profits. Our responsibility is to make sure we pass such scrutiny with flying colors.”

Katie Smith

Katie Smith is a Philadelphia-based writer. Find her on Instagram @saddy_yankee for cat pics.

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