WTF is up with iTunes’ Audio Book pricing? - Macenstein

WTF is up with iTunes’ Audio Book pricing?

Faithful Macenstein reader Kelly writes:

“iTunes song purchases are $0.99, TV shows are $1.99, movie rentals are about $3.99, movie purchase are around $14.99, BUT WHY ARE AUDIO BOOKS SO EXPENSIVE???? THEY COST $29.95!!!”

I’m not sure, Kelly. Must be the cost or replanting all those virtual trees they had to cut down to make the audiobook?

To be fair, I’ve no idea how much say Apple has in audiobook pricing, and most of the titles on iTunes’ top 10 seem to be going for $18.95, although you can find many in the $35.95 or higher range. The Harry Potter books, for example, seem to go for $32.95 to $49.95, and you can’t even stare at Emma Watson. Granted, it is a 26-hour recording, so if you compare it to a conventional 1-hour long music album for $9.99, you may think you are getting a good deal. However, audiobooks do not hold nearly the same replay value as music does.

It seems to me that blind people and the elderly, two groups who are likely fans of audiobooks, are getting the shaft here. Consider this: for less than the price of the Harry Potter Book 5 audiobook, you can get the entire books 1-6 of Harry Potter in a set on Amazon for $35. But that is of course for the paperback, not the hardcovers which go for $20 a piece. Still, I don’t see the reason why the “no” cover audiobook versions should be twice that much. Any ideas?

16 Responses to “WTF is up with iTunes’ Audio Book pricing?”
  1. SirCrumpet says:

    Perhaps because they have to pay someone to sit there for 26 hours or more reading it out, on top of all the usual editing?

  2. krism says:

    Gah! It’s just like renting TV seasons on iTunes. Why bother? You can go out and get the actual physical DVD for CHEAPER. Just like you can go out and get the physical book (or, audio book in this case) cheaper.

  3. SirCrumpet,
    I doubt that’s the case. I think quite a few more hours of work go into a 1 hour music CD’s recording (even a bad one) than go into a 26 hour audiobook. Not to mention the amount of people involved.

    Also, the majority of audiobook narrators are not big names driving up the costs. Editing an audiobook is also far less work than mixing a music recording.

    – The Doc

  4. Albert says:

    The audiobook versions of books are always more expensive than the print copies

  5. TBM says:

    I use to know an author who wrote SciFi novels and he was outraged at the publishing company over their audio book contracts because they offered the same deal for the recordings as they did the print media, even though the cost to produce an audio book from an existing work is miniscule compared to the cost of materials, printing and distribution.

    They are just as ruthless and heartless as music and movie publishers.


  6. Jonro says:

    In the old days (last year and the year before that), audio books came on tape and on CD. I think they justified a high price because there was so much physical media involved. Now the media is gone but they’ve stuck with the same pricing scheme.

  7. Twenty5 says:


    Im sick of iTune’s audiobooks pricing already…

  8. 123 says:

    I noticed this too. I was browsing Itunes a while ago and thought… hmm audiobooks – could be interesting. Then I saw the prices… I laughed: ‘HAHAHA Get Serious!’… and I’ve not looked at them again since, lol.

  9. Operator207 says:

    That would be a decent price *IF* you got the book too. Hard or soft cover.

    Maybe I should start reading books and taping them for profit. My daughter does not seem to mind me reading to her, and I have gotten better since this became a nightly event with her.

  10. Drew Beatty says:

    Better answer: – totally free recordings featuring upcoming and best selling authors. Scott Sigler, J.C. Hurchins, Tee Morris, the list goes on and on.

    Hell, Terry Fallis just won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal For Humour – the top Humour award in Canada!

    Did I mention it’s free?

  11. RobinInSeoul says:

    Come on, people! Join the New Media revolution! Tell iTunes where to stick it!

    From the Podiobooks FAQ:

    ‘The term “podiobooks” was coined by Evo Terra to describe serialized audio books which are made available in podcast format. Listeners to can choose to receive the episodes of their books via an RSS feed or by listening to episodes by directly downloading episodes from this site. Some listeners keep the audio files on their computers, some transfer the book to CD, but most transfer the file on to their mp3 player so they can listen no matter where they are.’

    It’s an awesome site. I’ve listened to a dozen books from this site and have been please with every one.

  12. Michael says:

    Some audio books on are pretty expensive. Unfortunately none of the Harry Potter books are available on Audible. Must be an exclusive deal with iTunes. I do think that the prices for audio books may be influenced by the fact that less people by an audio version of a book than buy the print version. I have no statistics to back that up so you are free to shoot me down on that.

  13. Mark Jeffrey says:

    Might I suggest all the FREE podcast audiobooks found at Max Quick 1 and 2 in particular …

  14. solak says:

    Despite that PodioBooks are available for free, I actually like the convenience of the donation button to express my appreciation to the author. But note that I can fill in any amount I wish for that donation. In fact, podiobooks has increased the amount paid to its authors since it started.

  15. Joseph Moniz says:

    Clearly you all need to get some relief from Apple’s audiobook price gouge.

    Try perhaps?

  16. Steve Bickle says:

    I’d also suggest, it’s one of the best sources for audiobooks. You can pay as much or as little as you like for the book (and there’s some really good books well worth paying for). Additionally you get the convenience of a personalised podcast feed of the book too, which I’ve found to be an excellent way to consume an audio book.

Leave A Comment


Click here to inquire about making a fortune by advertising your game, gadget, or site on Macenstein.