Now Hear This

Beleaguered Internet retailer Cyberian Outpost, which operates the pioneer e-tail site called Outpost.com, Thursday signed a marketing pact with Audible Inc. and will make the latter’s audio services available to its 1.4 million customers.

Much troubled Cyberian Outpost , its stock trading at less than 25 cents, said late last August that it would be acquired by Fry’s Electronics. Inc., calling off a previous deal to be acquired by PC Connection Inc.

With today’s agreement, Outpost’s shopping environment, emails and e-catalogs will feature Audible’s 32,000 hours of spoken audio that are available for download and mobile playback on AudibleReady digital audio devices.

Wayne, N.J.-based Audible features daily audio editions of various newspapers and magazines, available on a subscription basis in time for the morning drive to work. The site also markets a collection of audiobook best sellers and classics

With the deal, Outpost will fulfill buyer demand for annual memberships to Audible.com’s services as well as individual audio title purchases. The companies also plan to work together to offer AudibleReady audio devices from Outpost.com for prices significantly below retail when purchased in conjunction with AudibleListener memberships. Financial specifics of the arrangement were not disclosed.

“This new relationship is part of a general effort at Audible to increase distribution by exposing our popular audio services to appropriate customer bases,” said Foy Sperring, senior vice president for strategic alliances at Audible.

Clearly the effort is needed; Audible’s stock is also in the bargain basement, trading at 43 cents in the early going. The company has had a deal with Amazon.com since last year.

Kent, Conn.-based Outpost also could use any benefit from this deal. The company has said that it will continue to operate under its own brand from its current facilities after the acquisition by Fry’s.

According to an Outpost press release, Fry’s Electronics has agreed to loan Cyberian Outpost up to $13 million to repay PC Connection, pay off Cyberian Outpost’s secured debt and provide funds for working capital. The loan will be secured by all of Cyberian Outpost’s assets. Fry’s operates electronics stores in California, Texas, Arizona and Oregon.

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