Plans Audio Book Download Store

Fri Jun 3, 9:06 PM ET

On its Web site, Inc. is asking publishers for audiobooks for a new download store it says it plans to open. But the Internet retailer is being coy about such key details as a launch date.

The Seattle-based company declined to say Friday when any such sales would start or how it would affect its partnership with Audible Inc., the industry-leader in sales of audio versions of books and other publications.

"We never say if or when we're going to be launching a store until we launch it," Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith said.

News of Amazon's request sent shares of Wayne, N.J.-based Audible down 12.9 percent, or $2.15, to close at $14.48 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Amazon shares fell 82 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $35.59.

For the last five years, customers have been able to click on a link that directs them to Audible's Web site, allowing book downloads that can be played on computers or mobile devices.

Under a deal reached in 2000, Amazon acquired a 5 percent stake in Audible. In turn, Audible agreed to pay Amazon $30 million over three years for its promotion of Audible content.

Barnes & Noble Inc., Amazon's chief competitor in online book sales, does not offer book downloads. A company spokeswoman did not return a call Friday seeking comment on whether it plans to do so.

• __

On the Net:

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press.