May 31, 2000 12:50 PM PDT

Amazon adds audio to its book selection

Amazon.com teamed up with Audible.com today to open a new audio book section in the e-commerce giant's online bookstore.

The audio books section offers downloadable audio files of books, magazines, speeches and radio programs. Customers can listen to them as they download them or download them to play later. Once they have downloaded the files, customers can transfer them to a portable digital audio player such as the Diamond Rio 500.

The audio book store at Amazon is the first fruits of a deal announced in January between the two companies. As part of that deal, Amazon bought a 5 percent stake in Audible for about $20 million. In turn, Audible agreed to pay Amazon $30 million over three years to promote its site and services.

Audible is the latest member of Amazon's so-called Commerce Network to open for business on the company's storefront. In the last two months, Amazon has opened a home furnishings store with Living.com and a health and beauty store with Drugstore.com.

These deals offer Amazon the prospect of low-cost revenue. Unlike its book or toy stores, Amazon does not have to carry any costly inventory or pay shipping costs for products sold through its Commerce Network; instead Amazon essentially gets paid to simply promote those stores on its site.

As with the home furnishings and health and beauty stores, Amazon customers will have to set up new customer accounts to purchase audio files from the audio books area. Additionally, they will have to pay for their audio files separately from other items they buy at Amazon.

 

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