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Listen Up: Audio Book Club Reports Increased Sales, Profits

When online shoppers are looking for a good read, most head directly to Amazon or BarnesandNoble.com. But when it comes to listening to those books, Audio Book Club, Inc. may be carving out a successful niche of its own on the Web.

The Boca Raton, FL-based company today announced financial results for its second quarter and six months ended June 30, 1998, reporting that sales were up over 60% in the last year.

Gross sales for the quarter ended June 30, 1998 increased 61% to over $5 million from approximately $3 million in the comparable 1997 period. Net loss for the second quarter decreased to $1,016,398, or $(0.17) per share, compared to a net loss of $1,399,653, or $(0.43) per share for the quarter ended June 30, 1997.

In the six months ended June 30, 1998, Audio Book Club said gross sales increased 60% to over $10 million from around $6.5 million in the comparable 1997 period. The net loss for the first half of 1998 was $2,142,366, or $(0.35) per share, compared to a net loss of $1,167,878, or $(0.36) per share for the six months ended June 30, 1997.

The company attributed the sales increase to a significant investment in its Internet effort to acquire new members. Audio Book Club invested approximately $465,000 in the second quarter to develop and improve its Web sites, and also launched the BooksAloud.com resource.

The company noted that its Internet strategy is also bearing fruit in the shape of new members secured via the Web--an increase from 2,860 during the quarter ended March 31, 1998, to 9,343 new members during second quarter ended June 30, 1998.

"Audio Book Club remains committed to its Internet strategy and pleased with its progress to date. We anticipate continued revenue and membership growth in the second half of 1998 as we work toward our ultimate goal of profitability," said Norton Herrick, Chairman and CEO.

The company has actively pursued marketing deals with leading industry players to boost its Web-based business component. In June, for example, the firm signed an exclusive agreement with Netscape to be featured as a pre-loaded bookmark in new versions of the Communicator browser.

The retailer has also secured advertising pacts with America Online, Excite, Yahoo!, go2Net Inc., Juno Online Services, CitySearch, Planet Direct, and others.

Founded in 1994, Audio Book Club, Inc. is a direct marketer of audiobooks through membership clubs that market and sell audiobooks via the Net and by mail order.

The company's stock (AMEX: KLB) was trading at 9 3/8, up +5/16 at 12:34pm EST today.



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