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Audio Book Club Acquires Doubleday Direct's Audiobook Club

Boca Raton, FL-based Audio Book Club Inc. is acquiring Audiobooks Direct, a business of Doubleday Direct Inc. (a subsidiary of Bertelsmann Inc.). Financial terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition establishes Audio Book Club as the world leader in the distribution of audiobooks via the Internet and direct mail, the company said.

The companies have entered into a strategic Internet marketing alliance to include the creation, advertising and marketing of a co-branded Web site which promotes both companies' operations and their products. The companies will also cross promote services through animated links and banners to be located on their respective Web sites, including Audio Book Club's site and Doubleday Direct's site.

"Audiobooks Direct's member file of over 450,000 names brings Audio Book Club's total member and customer database to approximately 2 million and, as a result, we expect to achieve a significant increase in revenues while adding virtually no additional overhead," said Norton Herrick, chairman and CEO of Audio Book Club.

The agreement also includes a joint marketing arrangement which grants Audio Book Club the exclusive right with respect to audiobooks to insert its new member acquisition materials into the member mailings of all of Doubleday Direct's consumer book clubs and Doubleday Select's professional book clubs, as well as distributing its member solicitation packages via direct mail campaigns to the active and inactive Doubleday Direct and Doubleday Select book club membership lists.

Doubleday Direct is North America's largest direct marketing consumer book club group with over 30 individual book clubs, including The Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Crossings, The Mystery Guild, The Science Fiction Book Club, and Stage and Screen, among others.

Separately, Audio Book Club said gross sales for the year ended December 31, 1998 increased 47 percent to $22.24 million from $15.12 million a year earlier. The net loss for1998 was $6.98 million, or $1.13 per share, versus $4.920,851, or $1.29 per share, for 1997.