Is Audible stealing from their content creators to make their customers happy? Where will new content come from in the future if this is the case?
I don’t know if I have been living under a rock lately, but I was only told about AudibleGate yesterday by Brandee. And I am incensed on behalf of authors and narrators. I did know that there was a return policy that is very different with Audible than any other company I have ever heard of. I have even used that to my advantage one time. That one time, it was for a good reason (IMO) when a narrator was in prison for something I could not condone, and the author of the series said publicly that they stood behind the narrator, and that readers shouldn’t believe everything they had read about the case. That is the only time I have returned an audiobook, and I felt justified in doing so.
I couldn’t quite believe Linda hadn’t already heard of #audiblegate since she’s usually far more “plugged in” than I am. I only heard about it through an author’s newsletter but I can tell you I was quite fired up about it. I, too, knew about Audible’s return policy although I’ve never used it. It’s the way in which Audible is using it, against authors and narrators, that’s so maddening! And maybe some audiobook listeners only use the return perk of their memberships in justified ways, as Linda did. But I was appalled to learn there are listeners out there using Audible as if it were a library but a library whereby the creators of these brilliant and entertaining stories AREN’T PAID!
AudibleGate is well explained by author Susan May in her AudibleGate original post and her AudibleGate follow-up post. I was incredulous reading these posts. The callousness authors are being treated with is just not something I understand. And I also don’t understand how readers and listeners can say that they think it’s normal that they should be able to return an audiobook up to a year – 365 days – after they first got it. And I especially think it should not be possible to return a book in any way shape or form if more than 50% of the book has been read or listened to. This is something that is easy to check, as the audible app keeps track of absolutely everything for their listeners.
I got more and more angry as I read the articles. I know there are people out there who’ll do anything to get something for free without the first thought about how it might hurt someone. But I do like to believe that they don’t reside within our bookish community. Audible is clearly using it’s policy perk in order to make more money. Really? And if they continue to prevent authors and narrators from earning money then there won’t be any audiobooks for listeners to enjoy. And that also means no income for Audible so I don’t get it.
Can you imagine working so hard to create a story that readers might enjoy? Then, some readers will say they would prefer the audiobook because they prefer listening to a book, or that they actually need to listen instead of reading due to visual impairment or other reasons. So the author contacts different narrators, and then starts working with them. Narrators do an incredible job bringing both the characters and the stories to life, don’t you agree? They spend a lot of time creating the audiobook – and this time is their livelihood. When finally the audiobook is ready for listeners to pick up, they can choose to return it for any reason at all – they don’t even have to tell audible why they want to ‘exchange’ the book. Thus, the author and the narrator(s) do not receive any money for that title. Even after they have not only provided the work to make the audiobook, they have also provided hours of entertainment that has already been consumed. Only to be returned so that the listener can check out another audiobook.
Please tell me we aren’t the only ones incensed by this practice!?!
I live in Europe, so our libraries do not have English audiobooks, I only use Audible. As I said, though, I am not in the habit of returning books I’ve listened to, as I understand the time, money, and imagination it takes to create them. I know that in the US, and possibly other English-speaking countries, libraries use Overdrive and Hoopla so their customers can borrow audiobooks using their library card. And authors do get paid for this, as do narrators. Audible is not a library, it’s a bookstore, and I find it so very sad that some customers (possibly even a lot of customers) use it as if it was a library. I’m afraid that if this continues, there just won’t be any audiobooks at all for us booklovers to enjoy in the future.
I do make use of Overdrive, Hoopla, and Axis360 via my local library. And if you don’t want to purchase audiobooks, this is the way to go. The authors and narrators get paid for their audiobooks listened to over these media. I also have an Audible subscription because it was so easy to do it seeing as it’s tied to Amazon. But I’m rethinking my subscription. I’d like to subscribe to a service that pays their authors and narrators. And I think that the only way Audible will make a change to its policy is to hit them where it hurts.
I have never heard of anything else that we can buy, and consume, that we can actually return and get a full refund for within a whole year of the purchase date. How would you feel if at the end of the month, instead of getting paid, your employer told you that you had to pay them? Because that’s kind of what’s happening here for authors and narrators. Some have negative amounts on their royalty statements. Even for books that have been reviewed positively and with 4 or 5 stars. How is that possible? Do we not want authors to be able to continue to tell their stories for us to read and listen to?
I know Linda and I DO NOT want to lose audiobooks. And we certainly want ALL authors and narrators to be fairly paid for their work.
If you have any suggestions for other ways to support authors and narrators when it comes to audiobooks, please let me know. And you’ll get bonus points for sharing something that is available overseas and in non-English-speaking countries.
The Author’s Guild has written a letter to Audible / ACX that you can sign if you want to let your voice be heard to help the authors and narrators negatively impacted by AudibleGate.
There is also a new(?) site for audiobooks, called audiobooks.com where you can buy audiobooks, and where authors are not being screwed over.
Both Linda and I hope you’ll take the time to read the #audiblegate articles. And we will appreciate any help y’all can offer about sites where we can ALL get audiobooks and the authors and narrrators are paid justly.