Popular mystery author David Hewson will this week release his latest novel, The Flood. His fans, however, will not be able to read it – at least in the strictest sense of the word – until some time next year, because the novel will initially see release exclusively as an audiobook, with print editions to follow at an as yet unspecified date. Further than that, The Independent reports, Hewson has intimated he may eventually move to writing exclusively for audiobooks.
Hewson – best known for his Nic Costa series of Rome-set detective novels and his novelisations of the hugely popular Danish TV series The Killing – previously contributed a chapter to The Chopin Manuscript, the 2008 collaborative novel spearheaded by Jeffrey Deaver, which was also available exclusively as an audiobook upon its initial publication. So taken does he seem to be with the format that he has in fact reworked portions of The Flood to better play to its strengths.
The author cites the massive increase in popularity of content providers like Audible as one of the primary factors influencing his decision, saying ‘I’ve always loved audiobooks but for years and years, they were a real minority thing. They were CDs and tapes for libraries. Then Audible came along and started doing consumer downloads, which has taken off in an amazing way.’ Figures from the Publishers Association show that downloads of audiobooks rose by nearly 340% between 2008 and 2012, with the UK market alone now worth some £5 million per year and continuing to grow.
Hewson suggests, too, that the format is perhaps a better avenue for authors to profit from their work, saying ‘Some of these audiobook deals I would think are better than some authors are getting for print’ and adding that ‘Publishing is finding different ways of telling stories.’ His publisher, WF Howes – specialists in audiobooks and large print books – see audiobooks as becoming ‘core to the industry’ (well, they would), with head of publishing and commerce Dominic White saying ‘It was seen as a fringe activity but it’s not anymore. There is a definite audience there.’
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