amazon-audible.bmpAmazon said it will buy Audible, a digital audiobook publisher, for roughly $300 million.

Audible provides 80,000 products in audio form, ranging from books by famed authors Stephen King and Jane Austen, newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, magazines as well as TV and radio subscriptions. Audible has 160 employees split between its headquarters in Newark, and an office in London.

I think in 2008 we will see Amazon begin releasing books packaged together in three major formats: print, digital, and audio. I’ve long pined for this myself.

With Audible in its repository, Amazon could easily offer customers the chance to pay extra, say $10 to $20, to buy a book in all three formats and save you the hassle of re-buying a book in audio or for the Kindle (or any e-book reader) that you already own or want to purchase in print-format. Amazon now has Audible’s wireless download, a Kindle device reporting decent sales (indeed, it has sold out, the company says), and its vibrant online book store — the ingredients for a deadly triple-threat combination.

Audible’s customers can purchase and download audio content in the U.S., UK, Germany, and France to personal computers and transfer the audio to MP3 players, PDAs, and Smart Phones — even burning the content to CD.

Amazon will pay cash for Audible at $11.50 a share. Two months ago, Audible’s stock traded as high as $14.22.

Amazon yesterday reported fourth-quarter profit growth and a 42 percent increase in revenue.

This also really opens up the market for books as a service, where customers would be able to subscribe for a monthly fee, and pay a premium for discounts or receive a certain quantity of books, monthly, without paying additional fees.

Audible already features a program titled “AudibleListener” where you can subscribe $9.95 per year to get access to 30 percent discounts, sales, and six free channels of content.

It will also be interesting to see if Amazon restricts access of the content to certain devices or retailers, as Audible books are available at Amazon-competitor Apple’s iTunes store. Also, the books are available for 200 mobile devices, by such manufactures as Apple Computer, Creative Labs, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Palm, Philips, Samsung, Sandisk.

One day soon, you’ll not only be able to read this article from your phone or Kindle, but also listen to it on your MP3 player.

David Adewumi, a contributing writer with VentureBeat, is the founder & CEO of a social storytelling platform billed “The Wikipedia of Stories.”

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