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Audio Book Club buys Columbia House unit

The acquisition of Columbia House Audiobook Club is expected to more than double the Audio Book Club's annual revenues and make it the largest audio book seller in the world.

Audio Book Club, a marketer of audio books via the Web and by mail order, today announced it will acquire the Columbia House Audiobook Club from Columbia House.

The acquisition is expected to more than double the Audio Book Club's annual revenues and make it the largest audio book seller in the world. The terms of the deal, which included a combination of cash and stock, were not disclosed.

Since starting operations in January 1994, Audio Book Club has expanded its membership recruitment program and currently has a combined membership and audio buyer database of more than 1,300,000 names.

Founded in 1955, Columbia House, a joint venture of Sony Music Entertainment and Warner's Music Group, is the world's largest direct marketer of entertainment products. Columbia House's Audiobook Club was launched in 1994 and has a total customer file of more than 600,000 names.

Combined with Audio Book Club's 400,00 total member names, the total number of customer names is now in excess of 1 million. As part of the agreement, Audio Book Club will be able to utilize Columbia House's extensive compact disc, VHS, laser, and DVD membership lists in its new member acquisition campaigns.

In addition, Audio Book Club will have the right to insert new member acquisition materials into Columbia House's member mailings to its various clubs. Audio Book Club will be the Columbia House recommended source for audio books in a club format.

"This acquisition marks a major milestone for Audio Book Club and, we believe, solidifies our position not only as the leading club for audio books, but as the leading seller of audio books in the world," Audio Book Club CEO Norton Herrick said in a statement.

The company also hopes that the acquisition will enhance its Internet strategy.

"The additional total member database and our dedicated focus on the audio book market will enable us to further the growth of our business through interactive media utilizing the ever-expanding and seemingly limitless potential of the Web and e-commerce," added Herrick.

Audio Book Club also markets and sells content on audio cassettes, CDs, and video cassettes via catalogues, radio shows, retail, and other outlets.