Dan Katz, the CEO of Audible, was one of the last speakers to take to the stage at the Digital Minds Conference today at the London Book Fair. “One of the biggest challenges facing the company is the is that there is simply not enough audio. Every book worth reading should be available as an audiobook – but 80-90% of frontlist books don’t go to audio. E.g. if a member of Audible runs out of Science Fiction audio, we lose a member. So we became producers, and we’re now one of the biggest producers of audiobooks, with recording studios running back to back.”
One of the elements facing audiobooks is who owns the rights. Many books and ebooks often become free after a certain number of years. Publishers often sell the rights to books to other companies once they have monetized it to the best of their abilities or if they face bankruptcy. “I thought this was a no-risk business: to use unused audio rights that were just sitting in filing cabinets. When you have content rights they should be used.”
Don mentioned that the success of Audible was fully reliant on piracy. He mentioned that “Piracy helped Audible take off because it taught everyone how to download!”
Currently, Audible rolled out new marketing tools and author services, allowing authors to embed samples of their works on their websites and blogs. They also added social media functionality to promote your works on Facebook. The company is giving $1 for every book sold, in addition to their normal service of helping to encourage indie authors to convert their books to an audio format.