Audible is arguably the best known audiobook brand in the world, but that hasn't stopped it from being swallowed this week by an altogether larger fish.
Amazon announced that it has swooped to buy Audible in a deal valued at $300m in a cash tender agreement for all of its outstanding shares. Currently Audible offers over 80,000 programmes with audiobooks from the likes of Stephen King, John Grisham (*sigh*) and Jane Austen ("Oh Mr Darcy you're using the wrong spoon *titter, titter*) as well as spoken word audio content from sources including The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Harvard Business Review.
"Audible.com offers the best customer experience, the widest content selection and the broadest device compatibility in the industry," said Steve Kessel, Amazon's senior VP for worldwide digital media. "Working together, we can introduce more innovations and bring this format to an even wider audience."
"This deal brings together two pioneering companies that share a long history of ceaseless focus on improving the customer experience," said Donald Katz, founder and newly minted CEO of Audible. "We are very excited to be joining a company as innovative as Amazon.com."
No further terms of the deal were announced so it is unknown at this stage whether Audible will be subsumed under the Amazon name, ran inside Amazon as its audiobook brand or remain independently operated. That said, given the ambitious moves into the digital marketplace by Amazon over the last 12 months (ranging from Amazon MP3 to the Kindle), I'd be surprised if Audible wasn't brought in store in some capacity.
The acquisition will complete, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, in Q2. iTunes, watch out!