The following article is copied from the ALLI website. ALLI, the Alliance of Independent Authors, an excellent non-profit professional association for authors who self-publish, much like BAIPA. ALLi was founded by Orna Ross and Philip Lynch in 2012. ALLi has requested BAIPA’s support in the Audiblegate endeavor.
If you’re a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) or a regular reader of our Self-Publishing Advice blog, you’ll be aware that ALLi has been supporting the work of the author pressure group, TERM in the campaign known as “Audiblegate”.
In October 2020, a reporting error on the Amazon’s audiobook self-publishing platform ACX revealed some worrying indications about how Amazon Audible’s “easy exchange and return” program was funded. Under this program, audiobook listeners are encouraged to swap out a book once they’ve listened to it, at no cost. The glitch seemed to show that Audible had been secretly deducting the costs of this “returns” scheme from rights holders’ share of the revenue, not their own.
If a book was “returned”, Audible deducted the money they had originally paid to the author, publisher or narrator–even though the listener had fully consumed and enjoyed the book.
The glitch also revealed how lack of transparency and opaque accounting practices made it all but impossible for an individual author to get a picture of how Audible / ACX calculated their income. On realising the potential extent of rights holder losses, an Australian indie author, Susan May, founded a Facebook group Fair Deal for Rights Holders and Narrators. The group connected audiobook authors and narrators together, and began to gather information and evidence about the various anomalies they were witnessing.
In sharing the replies they were receiving from Audible, a disturbing pattern quickly emerged, both in accounting practices and communications with rights holders. A smaller group of dedicated volunteers, bringing various skills that fit just right for the campaign needs, began to dig deeper, and to reach out to the wider author community, narrators and producers, and outside interested parties.
Around this time, the group came to ALLi’s attention. Disturbed by the evidence, we changed ACX’s rating from “Recommended” to “Pending” while our watchdog desk carried out further research. On investigation, ACX’s grading was further downgraded to “Caution” and and narrators in their campaign to win a fair deal from Audible. (See Watchdog John Doppler’s explanatory blog post here). ALLi signed up to support the work of these dedicated authors in a variety of ways–as did a number of other author organizations around the world, and thousands of authors and other rights holders.
In December 2020, a public letter hosted by the US Authors’ Guild was endorsed by 13,000+ authors, and a wide coalition of international author, narrator, and producer organizations. This led to discussions between Audible and the Authors’ Guild, the Society of Authors UK, and ALLi, pushing for more transparent, fair, and equitable terms.
Audiblegate Campaign: What you can do
- QUERY: If you’re an audiobook publisher, write to [email protected] and hold them accountable. How do they calculate your payments? Please can they make that transparent? And pay you what you are due, under your contract?
- EMAIL: [email protected]
allianceindependentauthors.org if you can supply evidence of missing monies or other problems, want to share your thoughts, or report on your experience
- SHARE: Share information about #Audiblegate with other authors, publishers, narrators and rights holders
- PETITION: Sign the #Audiblegate petition here
- JOIN: Join the FDRHN Facebook group here
- SIGN UP: Sign up below to be kept updated as this important campaign develops.