Audible is the largest company involved in the consumer audiobook sector and they want authors to start writing original content and bypass e-books altogether.
The global audiobook industry is currently worth 2.6 billion dollars and part of the reason why we have seen a dramatic increase in profitability is due to digital In the first eight months of 2014, sales were up 28% over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6%.
Audible is the undisputed market leader in audiobook production and distribution. Matthew Thornton the Director of Communications at Audible said “Audible content includes over 180,000 audiobooks and other spoken-word programming from leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers. Non-audiobook content includes lectures, meditations, language lessons, comedy and periodicals.” Audible has added 40,000 titles their store in 2014, a very slight increase versus 2013. In both 2013 and 2014, Audible Studios and ACX productions account for just about half of all titles added to the Audible storefront.
One of the main reasons why Audible content is so successful is primarily attributed to the big name actors. Matthew Thornton explained a bit on how Audible embraces star power. “One of the ways we’ve worked to improve the overall customer experience of listening to audiobooks is in elevating the quality of audiobook performance—embracing A-List celebrities (among those who’ve recorded for Audible are Colin Firth, Dustin Hoffman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Winslet and Susan Sarandon) as well as up-and-coming young actors at Juilliard, Yale, Stella Adler and other acting schools where Audible offers narration workshops. We’ve had great success with celebrity-narrated projects like the Gyllenhaal-narrated The Great Gatsby, Ben Stiller performing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
Most of the audio content that Amazon has produced has been based on e-books. This is starting to change as Audible is starting to ask well-known writers to create original audio works.
Don Katz, CEO and founder of Audible said in an recent interview with NPR “While performances are being elevated and attuned to this advanced listening experience, why not write to the form in an original way? So it’s not just book authors writing, but TV writers, and movie writers.”
Audible now has about 30 original audio works in the pipeline. One, which has already been released, is The Starling Project starring Alfred Molina. It was written by bestselling thriller writer Jeffery Deaver and it’s more like a radio drama than a book.