Tag: audiobooks

Audiobooks

Narrating audiobooks: an actor’s perspective

I’ve not been narrating audiobooks for that long really. I started when I left drama school in 2010, and have now read over 150 of them (some great, some not so great…!). It is a strange experience. You spend three or four days (sometimes longer), in what is essentially a padded cell, talking out loud to yourself in different voices. But if it’s a good book, I can’t think of many better ways to make a living. I love it. You get to meet and work with brilliant people, telling stories all week.

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audiobook studios

Studio Care 101: How publishers can look after their audiobook studios

Neil Gardner is the managing director of leading UK audiobook production house Ladbroke Audio, and independent audiobook publisher Spokenworld Audio. He is an international award-winning producer/director/writer and an Earphones Award-winning audiobook narrator, as well as a sound designer and author. In summer 2018 he founded the Audiobook Creators Alliance.

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LoveAudio: time to shout loudly and proudly about audiobooks

Fionnuala Barrett is Senior Audio Editor at HarperCollins, where she creates audiobooks for authors as diverse as Gail Honeyman, Stuart MacBride, Dawn O’Porter, Joanna Cannon and George R.R. Martin.  She is also the chair of the working party for the 2018 LoveAudio campaign for the Publishers Association.  LoveAudio 2018 will run from 11 to 17 June.

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Audiobook publishing

Audiobook publishing: where to begin

Jo Forshaw is a consultant specialising in audiobook publishing. Having previously tinkered with audio as an agent, retailer and programmer for Oneword Radio, she ran the audio publishing team at HarperCollins, growing it from 60 abridged titles to 500+ unabridged recordings per year and driving projects like Total Audio and the RNIB partnership to ensure all readers can access books on publication. Follow Jo on Twitter @audioguvnor

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Quantum 2018

Don’t Delegate the Future: FutureBook event report

Friday’s FutureBook Conference, organised by The Bookseller, presented three conferences in one: alongside the main FutureBook programme, there were parallel streams on The Audiobook Revolution and EdTech for Publishers.

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Authors: Don’t overlook audio

Audiobooks are on the rise, particularly in retail. This is the ideal time for you to reconsider audio publishing. W.F. Howes Ltd’s Acquisitions Editor, Rachel Gregory, looks at how you can get involved.

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My top 5 audiobooks: Why it’s worth spending a credit

Why become an audiobook subscriber? With so many storytelling subscriptions available – Netflix, Amazon Prime, the list is endless – here are just five of my favourite audiobooks along with reasons why it’s worth buying these books in audio rather than as a physical book/ebook. Once you’ve listened to these, you’ll never look back from an audio subscription!

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Audio publishing: Common misconceptions

Louise Newton is an Audio Assistant at Little, Brown Book Group, and works across all imprints at Little, Brown on fiction and non-fiction titles. Louise is London Chair for the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) and assists the Royal Society of Literature at their events.

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Which digital book format has the most growth potential?

The answer might surprise you…

Amazon’s Kindle format dominates the ebook market today and it’s easy to assume that will remain the case going forward. Despite that fact, I see a number of trends indicating the digital book space could be ripe for disruption.

Notice I use the term “digital book”, not “ebook.” That’s because the digital format with the most upside isn’t MOBI or EPUB. It’s audio.

Audiobooks

Amazon also dominates the audio book space, of course, thanks to their ownership of both Audible and Brilliance Audio. Amazon’s audio book subsidiaries are built around yesterday’s business model though, and I believe technology and consumer habits have evolved to the point where a new business model will emerge.

Have you ever priced an audio book? Let’s use George Orwell’s 1984 as an example. Audible currently offers the audio version for $20.97 while Amazon sells the paperback for $11.42 and the Kindle edition for $9.99. There are exceptions, of course, but the audio format is typically the most expensive option.

What might happen if audio editions were priced at or below the print or Kindle editions? The recent trends in ebook sales might be a good indicator here. As ebook prices have increased over time (thank you, agency model), print has experienced a resurgence and ebook sales have flattened and even declined for some genres.

Podcasts

Next, consider the growing interest in podcasts, as described here. Two factors drive this trend shown above: convenience and laziness. Low-production YouTube videos have replaced how-to books on a variety of topics. It’s also a lot easier to watch or listen than read. I’m sure that last statement made quite a few of you bristle, but it’s true. Reading isn’t going away, but overall consumption could be dramatically increased if it weren’t for the painfully high price of your typical audiobook.

Pricing

Why are prices so high? The obvious culprit tends to be the professional talent (and additional time) required to create the audio format. But is it really critical to limit recordings to either the author or voice professionals? If you want to continue charging those high prices the answer is probably “yes.”

If you’re open to exploring other pricing models though, you’ll be inspired by the approach used by The Week. I recommend you subscribe or at least listen to a few of the podcasts created by The Week. You’ll quickly discover their editors and other staff members are the voice talent. The voices are clean and crisp, not robotic, and the finished product is terrific. Yes, these are free streams, but they give you a sense of what’s possible with a much lower investment.

Technology is opening new doors here as well. Remember the monotone, computer-generated audio of the 90’s? Text-to-speech has improved quite a bit over the years and will only get better over time. If you’re still not convinced, scan this related article and be sure to listen to some of the audio samples; it’s virtually impossible to distinguish the human-generated segments from the computer-generated ones.

Opportunities

Despite all this, why would publishers have any interest in seeing lower prices for audio formats? Because it represents an enormous opportunity to break the stranglehold Amazon currently has on all digital formats.

Imagine a world where publishers could establish a strong, direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel featuring audio. The D2C audio edition of 1984 could be computer-generated and sell for $9.99, the same price as the Kindle edition; but in this case, the publisher keeps 100% of the selling price, not whatever percentage they’re receiving from Amazon for the Kindle edition.

Are you worried that consumers will buy one audio copy and share it with all their friends? If so, please don’t fall back into that digital rights management (DRM) trap that only reinforces Amazon’s dominance. Rather, create a simple mobile app where all the purchased audio files live. Most publishers don’t realize it, but the fact that a reader’s Kindle files are buried in their app is more of a file-sharing deterrent than DRM itself. If you don’t believe me, ask a few of your friends if they even know how to retrieve their ebook files from their Kindle app, for example.

The opportunity here is huge, and not just for selling audio books directly. It’s a chance for publishers to forge a more meaningful, ongoing relationship with their customers. I’ve grown to love history books over the years, mostly ones about WWII and the civil war. I subscribe to a few publisher newsletters but I still sometimes overlook interesting new publications. Wouldn’t it be cool if audio samples of those new books could be sent directly to the app on my phone? I just set a few preferences and I’ll never miss another new title.

Today most publishers sell transactionally, one book at a time, to nameless/faceless consumers. The model I’m describing isn’t ideal for all publishers, but for ones with genre depth it represents a new approach where they could better serve their customers as well as take more control over their own destiny.

Joe Wikert is director of strategy and business development at Olive Software. This post was originally published on his blog, Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies, where he writes opinion pieces on the rich content future of publishing.

Voice-First Future

7 ways to create a premium edition of your book with iBooks Author

iBooks Author is Apple’s digital publishing software, used today to create digital books of all kinds.

A great strategy on how to use iBooks Author – and the interactive, multimedia-driven books it allows you to create – is to turn regular content into ‘premium’ editions by including new bonus features, just like the bonus features of a Blu-Ray movie, and then to charge a modest price premium over the original version.

Here are seven ways to create a premium edition of any book, using iBooks Author:

1) Include the audiobook

Get the original author of a book to record themselves reading the book out loud, and even include additional insights if you like that reside strictly in the audio recording. Then, include that recording within the iBook, with a button on each page that allows the reader to touch it and have the author read to them. Not only does this add immense perceived value to the content, but it also can be monetised as a separate revenue stream by selling the audiobook version separately.

2) Include a glossary

Take all the relevant vocabulary from your title – characters, settings, plot elements if a fiction title, or all relevant terminology from a non-fiction work – and utilise the built-in glossary feature of iBooks Author for your premium edition iBook.  Make sure to hyperlink the glossary terms as appropriate throughout the main text of your work.  Then, monetise the glossary separately as well by producing an iBook that is the ‘dictionary’ of your franchise, and sell that in the iBooks Store as well!

3) Include podcasts, TV interviews, or other media interviews conducted with the author

A curated selection of media appearances made by an author about a new book is a great addition within the actual book!  Readers who are connected with an author, or connected with the topic of a book or a book’s characters, often can’t get enough of the additional insight these media appearances bring.  The multimedia capabilities of an iBook are perfect to be able to include this bonus content.

4) Include video commentary from the author

This is a big one. Having an author speak, directly, yet casually, to the reader about the book or topics at hand, is something readers have shown they are willing to pay a price premium for. And with the rapidly expanding hard drives on iPhones and iPads, while this video might add to the size of an iBook, it is negligible for the end user.  Including video commentary from the author ensures the iBook version will not be ignored by readers, as long as this content is made exclusive to the iBook and otherwise kept off the internet.

5) Include previous books in a series

This practice, which is becoming commonplace in other creative sectors, like video games, makes sense as a consideration for book franchises as well within the iBooks format. Throwing in a previous book in a series, as a bonus inclusion at the end of an iBook, is easy to do and makes it easier for new readers to step up and engage with a franchise knowing they have all the content under one roof.

6) Include hand-written notes, sketches, or photos related to the book’s original production

No matter the genre, or whether we’re talking fiction or non-fiction, readers love to peek behind-the-scenes at the production process of any creative work. Combine that with the knowledge that high-resolution images look great on any current iPhone or iPad, and it’s a no-brainer to include photography, outlines, hand-written notes, or images of any other documents which illuminate the creative process for readers.

7) Include early access to the follow-up book

With iBooks Author and the Apple ecosystem (including iTunes Connect and the iBooks Store itself), publishing new updates to existing titles is easy and seamless.  Letting readers know early access to a follow-up book will be made available via a title update to an original title is a great value-add.

Bradley Metrock is CEO of Score Publishing, a digital media company with the mission of helping people become better interactive content creators. The company partners on content development, offers digital content creation training, hosts several national conferences on digital content creation (including the iBooks Author Conference), and owns and operates leading NCCA-compliant certifications in digital content creation.

ibooks

audio

10 pieces of sound advice on audio publishing from #Quantum16

Videl Bar Kar (Penguin Random House, UK Audio), Claire Powell (audioBoom) and Adam Martin (Acast) formed the panel on Audio Publishing at the Quantum conference today. Here are the top 10 things we learned.

The Market

1) People are listening to podcasts and audiobooks on their runs, commute, in the car and when going to sleep.

2) Men listen more regularly than women and audiobooks reach a more diverse audience in comparison to print.

3) Podcasts are proving to be a highly engaging and intimate means of storytelling. Once people start to listen to them, they tend to carry on.

4) Podcast production is dominated by white middle class men. It’s not making the market any bigger and this needs to change in order to reflect the audience and content available. A broader, mass, millennial appeal needed.

Monetising Podcasts

5) Only when a podcast is downloaded is data available on how much it’s listened to, at which points users stop listening, and how they are shared. It’s hard to monetise without this.

6) Producers are beginning to incorporate data for streaming too, so that they can inform creators of what’s working and what’s not.

7) Data shows that an endorsement by the host is most effective form of advertising and that the commercial message better received. Creators are changing the model: it’s not the advertising agencies coming up with ideas, but the podcaster telling the brand’s story in their own way. If the creator gets it right, the users wants to stop and listen, not skip ahead.

Discoverability

8) The current challenge is reaching potential new users. Go direct to your audiences with links to, and snippets of, your content, e.g. Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. Users will often find the gateway show that pulls them in.

9) Listeners are discovering new podcasts by reading recommendations on podcasts themselves.

10) Curated podcast playlists are also becoming increasingly popular.

 

audiobooks

Penguin Random House on audiobooks: Hannah Telfer interview

Last week Penguin Random House announced that it’s establishing its audio business as a standalone division, Penguin Random House UK Audio. Here we interviewed Hannah Telfer, MD Audio and Group Director of Consumer & Digital Development, on what’s new and next for audiobooks at Penguin Random House UK.

1) What exactly is the new audio division?

Audio was the fastest growing part of our Penguin Random House UK business in 2015. We had a record year with publishing highlights including our biggest-ever selling audio download with The Girl On The Train and fastest-ever selling title with YouTubers Dan and Phil’s The Amazing Book is Not on Fire.

In May 2015 Penguin Random House UK became the global exclusive publishers of BBC Audio, publishing audiobooks from the bestselling and award-winning drama, comedy and landmark factual programmes from the BBC Radio network and archives.

In total, we sold more than 30 million hours of audio and we know we can sell more.

By launching as a standalone division – Penguin Random House UK Audio – we will have one unified audio strategy across Penguin Random House UK with our expert audio team working hand-in-hand with their publishing colleagues – which is great news for our authors and our readers.

As the UK’s number 1 audiobook publisher, we capture the benefit of this market for our authors and for the stories and ideas we are privileged to publish.

2) As a new department, what problem is being solved?

In a noisy world, audiences are discovering the pleasure of listening. Audiences are discovering the delight of being transported to new worlds, of experiencing new ideas, of hearing new voices.

At Penguin Random House, we believe there is alchemy to publishing audiobooks; that their magic is unlocked through the care with which they are produced.

We are expert here.

From the earliest possible conversations with authors and editors, we cast our audiobooks thoughtfully. The production of an audiobook is an intense and focused process. It’s intimate. We are uniquely placed to build on the intensity of the experience between author and editor and understand the story behind the story.

We find readers who will shine a light on the story. This can be the authors themselves, it can be actors, and it can be celebrities.

And we promote our audiobooks. From the fabulously successfully Penguin Podcast hosted by Richard E Grant, to our audience and author led campaigns, we are finding new and imaginative ways to market our books and partner well with our retailers.

3) Who is the target market?

Audiobooks are important because they reach distinct audiences and the spectrum is significant. Different audiences are growing the market. The profile of audiobook listeners in the UK is young and men are more likely to listen regularly than women.

Audiobooks over-index among BAME readers. This is critical for our industry. Audio has the potential to reach a more diverse audience than physical books and ebooks

4) What results do you hope to see over the next few years?

At Penguin Random House Audio we are ambitious.

We are ambitious about integrating audio into our publishing strategies – to tell our stories well.

We are ambitious about pushing the boundaries of audiobooks – to seeking new listeners for our authors

We believe Audio can be a vanguard for books in a world of entertainment.

5) What will be next for Penguin Random House UK audio after this?

Watch – or should that be listen to – this space.

Hannah Telfer is responsible for consumer insight, group marketing & audience development, digital publishing & product development and the Penguin Random House UK’s Audio business. Prior to this she was Director, Digital Marketing and Digital Product Development at The Random House Group leading an award-wining programme of digital publishing and marketing.

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