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Audio Publishing News

In a venture that will foster growth in the market for digitally-delivered spoken word audio content, Random House, Inc. and Audible, Inc. have announced a strategic alliance to establish Random House Audible, the first-ever imprint to produce spoken word content specifically suited for digital distribution. Random House Audible will be an imprint of Random House, Inc.'s Random House Audio Publishing Group division, and all titles published by the imprint will be distributed exclusively on the Internet by Audible.

The partnership, which combines the editorial and marketing strengths of the world's largest audio publisher with the market leader in the digital delivery of spoken audio, was announced by Erik Engstrom, President and Chief Operating Officer, Random House, Inc., and Donald Katz, Founder and Chairman, Audible, Inc.

The companies also announced that Random House, Inc. would invest in Audible through a purchase of common stock and warrants by Random House Ventures, L.L.C., its newly formed investment and strategic partnership subsidiary, headed by Richard Sarnoff. Mr. Engstrom will take a seat on Audible's Board of Directors, increasing the board from eight to nine members.

Mr. Engstrom said, "Random House believes downloading of digital audio content to be the most significant engine of growth for the spoken word and audiobook industry in the future and we are pleased to be able to participate with Audible both as an equity holder and a content partner."

"Random House Audible goes beyond the partnership's powerful business and market growth potential," added Mr. Katz. "The imprint embodies Audible's commitment to provide high-quality information and entertainment content listeners cannot obtain anywhere else. It also advances Audible's ongoing support of new avenues of expression for authors and other creators by employing technologies unencumbered by the economics of traditional physical media product and distribution."

Random House will oversee the publishing operations of the imprint, including acquisition of titles and development of content, which will include digital audiobooks, as well as serialized content and other original programming. Rights will be acquired specifically for the Random House Audible imprint and Audible will participate in the imprint's editorial decisions. Random House will continue to offer titles from its three proprietary audio imprints, Random House Audio, BDD Audio, and Listening Library, on a non-exclusive basis to all eligible online and traditional retail customers and Audible will continue to offer content from its many spoken word content providers on and via its exclusive distribution relationship with As digitally distributed audio content, Random House Audible releases will be playable on personal computers or on a variety of mobile digital audio players that function much like a portable CD or cassette player, which consumers have long used to listen to traditionally formatted spoken word recordings.

"We're very excited about the potential of the Random House Audible imprint to open the audiobook format to a new and wide range of authors and content providers. On their behalf, we will now be able to capitalize on opportunities that demand rapid turnaround that can only be accomplished digitally as well as serve niche markets normally beyond the distribution reach of cassette and compact disc audio productions," said Jenny Frost, President, Random House Audio Publishing Group.

"This is an opportune time to establish the Random House Audible imprint, one that coincides with the explosive growth of secure distribution of premium audio via the Internet," said Brian Fielding, Senior Vice President, Content, Business and Legal Affairs for Audible, Inc. "People are embracing the Internet as a viable source for accessing the type of high-quality content that this imprint will produce."