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Question of the Day:

If people who read books on paper are called bookworms, then are people who
listen to cassette books called tapeworms?

 

Listen Up!

 

Audio books are considered to be the fastest-growing segment in the publishing industry, growing 75 percent since 1995 and representing $2 billion in annual sales, according to the Audio Publishers Association (APA).

 

So, What is it really worth?

 

Occasionally it's as simple as throwing a dart! It's so hard to say. The simple answer is that a used audio book is only worth what another person is willing to pay for it at any given time. Whether it is on a specialty web site, a live auction or in a static listing on a bookselling site; a book may literally sit not purchased, for a good long while simply because there is no current demand, hence, no buyer.

 

Inevitably an audio book (or really any book for that matter) retains the most value when it is brand spanking new. There is a certain segment of audio book listeners that simply MUST have the newest book the second it can be mailed from the producer or plucked off the shelf at the local book purveyor. These folks will often pay the full retail price, in fact often more because they often pre-order directly from the producer and pay the shipping charges to go to the front of the line.

 

Within about 3 months of a books release they are quickly listened to, plugged, discussed, reviewed and tossed up on auction sites/book selling sites in droves. These will occasionally go for ~60% of retail, still a good showing. The more time that passes the more that come on the market - especially true of popular fiction, mysteries and abridged items. Inevitably flooding the market often causes a rapid increase in availability coupled with a drastic decrease in price. After about a year from the release date it's often tough to get a couple bucks for an item that once COMMANDED $40+.

 

Then something peculiar often happens. Attrition takes a number of sets out of the market. Dogs chew up tapes, people accidentally run over them, they simply wear out, get broiled and the result is that occasionally an item will all but disappear from the market place. Inevitably, I get the request: Do you have item xyz, ISBN number,  published not too long ago. It can often take a surprising amount of digging and research to uncover an item that just a couple years ago was thicker in the market than the cicada's in my lilac bush. So what was old is often new again, especially with classic children's items. If an author releases a new item, often there is sudden demand for other items published, etc.

 

So should you go out an buy a dozen copies of the latest and greatest just to squirrel them away for the future? Uh,  no. This would be a poor use of resources, not to mention you'd be tripping  over those things in no time. Audio books take up a surprising amount of room. I have over 2,000sq. feet of office and shelf space to house ~500-700 items at any one time and I am squeezed. Trust me, it won't work!

 

The main theme is that if you see an audio book you would like to listen and the price is one you are willing to pay then, great! That's the value. If the asking price is too high, give it time - it's more likely than not to come around again before too long. Personally I have a range that I am comfortable in, roughly 10-40% of the original retail value, and more often than not an opportunity to buy will come along at the right price - eventually. You just have to exercise a little patience, keep a lengthy "looking list" and communicate that list to vendors and sellers that you know will alert you upon digging up a copy.

 

Good luck!

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