Amazon.com, which has been rapidly adding digital downloads to its vast Web store, said on Thursday that it had agreed to buy Audible, the largest online seller of audiobooks.
Amazon will pay $300 million in cash for the company, or $11.50 a share, a 23 percent premium to the stock’s closing price on Wednesday.
Audible, based in Newark, offers 80,000 audiobooks and spoken-word products from magazines, radio shows and newspapers, including The New York Times. It sells its digital files through its own Web site and, since 2003, through Apple’s popular iTunes service.
The deal will add Audible’s products to Amazon’s nascent digital media offerings, which it has rolled out over the last 16 months. Customers can now download movies, TV shows and music from Amazon instead of getting a DVD or CD in the mail.
In the past, Amazon has sent customers who wanted to download audiobooks to the Web site of Audible. The acquisition would allow it to offer digital audiobooks on the Amazon site.
The move could also allow owners of the Kindle, Amazon’s cream-colored electronic book reader, to download audiobooks directly to the device.
I would love to see Amazon institute a subscription service for the Kindle and audiobooks -- similar to what Rhapsody has done with music. It would be great to pay one fee for unlimited access to print and audiobooks. Amazon is the one company with enough clout to start pushing things in that direciton. Stay tuned to see what this acquisition means.