How to "Rent" Audio CD's from Amazon.com for under $10

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robert

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How to "Rent" Audiobook CD's from Amazon.com for under $10

I recently bought an audiobook 16 CD set of Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, (not available from audible.com, NetLibrary, or OverDrive) from Amazon.com, used, for $24.95 + $3.49 shipping. After converting to m4b file and listening to the audio on my iPod, I offered it at $24.95 on Amazon.com Used and New. After Amazon.com commission, shipping to buyer, burning the m4b file to CD to sell with the audio CDs, I netted $19.88. My "rental" of Wicked was a net cost of $8.56.

Listing audio CD's for sale at Amazon.com is much easier than selling on e-Bay (another way to recoup cost at a lower commission). All one has to do to list a CD set for sale is to go to the book hardback listing, click on see all 8 editions, choose Used and New link next to "Audio CD (Unabridged)" then click on "Sell Yours Here" Button. Unlike e-bay, you don't have to provide a description since the Amazon description is already there. After signing up as a seller, you will step through pricing (I chose to go a penny under the lowest current price), adding condition language, and add information you wish the buyers to see. My condition language was:

Unabridged version of 16 CDs in pristine condition (Played twice). Box has a few creases. Includes a DVD with both iPod bookmarking (m4b) and mp3 files burned on it ready for loading onto your iPod or favorite mp3 player.
You will want potential buyers to know with certainty that the CD set is abridged or unabridged and the condition of the CDs and box and if you are offering a CD/DVD of m4b/mp3 files.

Burning CD/DVD with m4b/mp3:
My burn software allows dragging and dropping from iTunes to the burn program. I don't let MarkAble delete the source mp3 files when converting CDs to m4b, so that I can go to the MarkAble temporary mp3 file folder to drag and drop the mp3 files to the burn software. Since audio CDs are not protected and the sale is for a combined original CD set plus m4b/mp3 files, this should pass the "fair use" test. Keeping a copy of the file on your computer after sale or separately selling the original CD set and the burned CD is not acting within the legal definition of "fair use." So, rip, convert, listen, burn, and then delete the files from your computer before selling.

Wicked is a long book and required a DVD to accommodate both m4b and mp3 files. Of course, if you don't have a DVD burner, you could burn on two CDs. Most will require only CD capacity. I figured that adding the iPod and mp3 ready files into the offering was an added inducement to choose my offering over others.

The Math for Wicked:

Purchase Price
$24.95 plus shipping of $3.49 = $28.44
Sale Price
$24.95 plus $3.49 shipping less ($1.84 USPS media mail, $.55 delivery confirm, $5.96 Amazon.com commission, $.21 CD cost) = $19.88
Net Cost to me:
$28.44 purchase price, less $19.88 net realized from sale = $8.56

Caution: Obviously, only popular audio books will move quickly and at consistent prices. You may want to check recent eBay sales for the same product. There were many e-bay completed auctions for Wicked that brought no bids at all. You must ship within two business days of sale notification by amazon. The listings are deleted if unsold after 60 days. New and Used offerings at amazon vary and reasonable prices may not be available when you wish to purchase. There is risk that the purchase/sale prices will not result in a sale at all or may result in a net cost in excess of $10. Amazon sets the shipping cost to buyer. Patience is required. Commission varies with sale price and shipping method buyer chooses.

The advantages of Amazon seems the ease of listing, fixed price, probably larger audience, and no need to provide a detail description and photo of the audio CD set.

Not a slam dunk, but a way to get audio CD sets of audio books that are not offered at audible.com, NetLibrary, OverDrive, or other sources.

Amazon offers some mp3 versions of Audio CDs as well. For example, The Fountainhead UA is offered new from Amazon at $35 and the New and Used lowest price is Blackstone Audio for new at just under $35. Don't know why anyone would want to pay the $3.49 shipping to Blackstone since Amazon free ships for $25 or more. I would guess that one could buy The Fountainhead at $35 new from Amazon and resell at something like $25 to $30 pretty easily. On the other hand, since one can get The Fountainhead UA complete from audible.com for $10 with UL, why bother. There was a used offering at $73. It may be that CD players that play mp3 versions are rare enough that reselling those may be problematic. However, if the true audience turns out to be iPod users, then an original purchase of mp3 versions, which are easily converted to bookmarking, could be the way to go.

Wicked sold in less than 24 hours. I think several factors caused it to move quickly:
- Audible.com has the sequel, but not this prequel
- It is a popular Broadway Play (Tony Award winner)
- Book whose popularity has been reinvigorated by recent publication of the sequel. Son of a Witch (sequel) is on the NYT top ten best seller hardbacks (no paper back yet) and Wicked is in the top ten NYT best selling paper back list.
- Offered at lowest price in new and used amazon listings
Edit: Wicked will be available on audible.com Nov 22

At the same time, I listed the following which have yet to sell:

Skeleton Crew : Selections (Penguin Audiobooks) [AUDIOBOOK] [Audio Cassette... (w/o m4b or mp3 files)
Price: $9.75
Listing ID: 1111H251407
Closes: 01/10/2006 14:29:36 PST

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Mist : In 3 D Sound [Audio CD] by King, Stephen; Full Cast Dramatization (without m4b or mp3 files)
Price: $9.00
Listing ID: 1111L109886
Closes: 01/10/2006 14:19:49 PST

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Broker (John Grishham) [ABRIDGED] [Audio CD] by Grisham, John; Boutsikaris
Price: $9.95
Listing ID: 1110K363136
Closes: 01/09/2006 11:08:34 PST

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ATLAS SHRUGGED : Abridged Edition (Highbridge Classics) [ABRIDGED] [Audio Cassette with m4b and mp3 CD..}
Price: $7.98
Listing ID: 1110J255587
Closes: 01/09/2006 10:53:55 PST

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Skinny Dip [ABRIDGED] [Audio CD] by Hiaasen, Carl; Bostwick, Barry with m4b/mp3 CD.
Price: $8.98
Listing ID: 1110F065327
Closes: 01/09/2006 11:16:11 PST

It would be interesting to see posts of results others trying this have. It is possible that we can get a small "market" in iPod ready Audio books going on Amazon.com.
 
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robert

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Boilerblues said:
If you are ripping the CD's and keeping a copy then what you are doing is illegal.
I said in post above
Since audio CDs are not protected and the sale is for a combined original CD set plus m4b/mp3 files, this should pass the "fair use" test.
It would be clearer and more helpful for you to have noted, as I should have, that anyone keeping a copy of the file on their computer after sale or separately selling the original CD set and the burned CD is not acting within the legal definition of "fair use." I will edit that in.

I specifically waited until I had listened to the file and had no further need of the m4b or mp3 files.

Post now includes:
Since audio CDs are not protected and the sale is for a combined original CD set plus m4b/mp3 files, this should pass the "fair use" test. Keeping a copy of the file on your computer after sale or separately selling the original CD set and the burned CD is not acting within the legal definition of "fair use." So, rip, convert, listen, burn, and then delete the files from your computer before selling.
This concept of "Renting" audiobook CDs from Amazon can be replicated with printed books on a simpler scale -- buy and read then sell or give away. Parallel thought process that "fair use" seems to cover. Similarly, there would be no reason not to buy and listen to DRM protected audiofiles and then sell or give away. The difference is that the user must not attempt to thwart, or tell how to thwart, DRM protection to duplicate a file.

Sony's fiasco is a different matter entirely.
 
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moriond

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The NetFlix model of audiobook rentals.

Robert,

You do know that there are sites for audiobooks operating along the NetFlix model, don't you? Simplyaudiobooks is one example (which also has a UK counterpart), Kitabe.com is another (even cheaper). Both of these sites work along the lines of unlimited audiobook rentals for a fixed fee per month (and both had Wicked, as an example). I think Booksfree.com is another such site, and you can find others.

You can check these sites out first, and go to Amazon for any others that you can find this way (via Audible, your Library, Net Library, OverDrive, etc.)

jbischke, just a quick note that this link for TimesTalk: Bono given in one of my earlier postings on author interviews might be more interesting for you. (And here are a couple more for other TimesTalk events for Conan O'Brien and Renee Fleming, to add to previous posted links.)
 
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