The NAB Blog

We Launch the New Naxos AudioBooks Download Shop

By Nicolas Soames

4 June 2007


Welcome to the launch of the new Naxos AudioBooks Download Shop. Now, virtually every title recorded by Naxos AudioBooks since it began in 1994 is available to download from our easy-to-use Shop.

There are more than 350 titles available: the great classics of fiction, non-fiction – adult and junior – poetry and drama from around the world. It is a wonderful resource from which any title can be downloaded with just a few clicks of the mouse.

We were determined to make its use a simple and straightforward matter. There are an increasing number of web sites offering audiobook downloads, but we have built our service on some key points:

the sound
A download has to sound good – and that includes the music we use. To this end, we researched and developed a custom encoding strategy to give the best possible quality for both speech and music, whilst keeping the download file size to an absolute minimum.

the download service
Downloads should be portable: transferable from the computer to any mobile device – iPod or any other digital music player, audio- or MP3-CD – with ease, and be unhindered by problems of incompatible file formats or digital locks. Our downloads are supplied as MP3s, without watermarking or DRM (Digital Rights Management). This does mean they are open to the possibility of abuse via extensive file-sharing, but we believe that this is not the way our customers behave.

size and time
Our download files are a balancing act between file size (usually the higher the data rate, the higher the quality of sound, at the expense of file size) and time (smaller files mean faster downloads). Too large, and it takes too long. Too small and the sound is poor. We believe we have struck an ideal balance with our specially encoded 48 kbps files.
   Internet download speeds vary considerably from dial-up to high-speed broadband, but as a guide, a download of an audiobook from us with a running time of 2½ hours might take just a few minutes to download. A five hour audiobook might download in less than ten minutes and at the extreme end, the two volumes of War and Peace, which runs for 61 hours and is a 1.2 gigabyte download, might still download in less than two hours. And judging by sales of Tolstoy’s masterpiece so far, this is more than acceptable to many!

the booklet
All track information, booklet notes and pictures and the cover artwork should also be available. Every one of our download tracks has full ID3 tag information embedded, including cover artwork, and the full booklet is supplied as a PDF with the download.

the cost
We recognise that by offering downloads, we don’t have to pay for CD manufacture, however the download service has its own running costs in (amongst others) bandwidth and servers. However, we have reduced the price so a download is effectively 30% cheaper than the equivalent CD.

So, please visit the Download Shop and explore our range of titles. There are currently some FREE titles and excerpts which you can download to see how easy it is to transfer them from your computer onto your portable device.

At Naxos AudioBooks, we are passionate about storytelling. As I travel into London on the train or in my car I am generally listening to an audiobook – either through my headphones as I rattle into Kings Cross, or through my iPod transmitter in my car. It is a wonderful thing!

Many may still wish to buy the CDs and rip them into their computer – just the other day, I struck up a conversation with a fellow train passenger who said that on his iPod was Anton Lesser reading The Iliad and Romeo and Juliet with Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale – which was rather gratifying! – but for those who just want the electronic files – here is the best opportunity!

Please let me know how you get on with the new Download Shop service: email me at soames.downloadshop@naxosaudiobooks.com

While you are about it, if there are any classics that you are particularly waiting for, do let me know. And if you have any comments on our recordings – good or bad! – I would be pleased to hear them.

Nicolas Soames


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