Audiobooks

And the Awards for Best Audio Fiction Go to …

2 April 2016

From The New York Times:

First came the Oscars, then the Tonys. Now, get ready for the Sarahs.

Sarah Lawrence College, which produces the radio drama anthology podcast “Serendipity,” on Friday hosted the inaugural Sarah Awards, billed as the first award ceremony for audio fiction.

The awards are the latest sign of a booming market that hardly existed five years ago, when there were too few fictional podcasts to warrant a meaty Top 10 list. But that was before the success of “Welcome to Night Vale” and the debut of “Serial,” the nonfiction show that raised podcasts to the level of popular culture.

Four awards, including one for best new artist, were presented at the awards ceremony, held at the Jerome L. Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR in Manhattan and hosted by Glynn Washington of “Snap Judgment.” Among the submissions were stories from established fictional podcasts like “The Truth.”

Ann Heppermann, a Sarah Lawrence faculty member who was a founder of the awards and “Serendipity,” said that the idea for the Sarahs goes back to 2012. Their debut happens to coincide with what she called “a thriving community of audio fiction.” Going forward, her hope is that the award prompts producers to “challenge themselves to make radio drama for the 21st century.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Tom for the tip.

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Amazon, Google Update Text-to-Speech Voices For Your Listening Needs

31 March 2016

From The Digital Reader:

I can’t tell you how many users take advantage of the TTS features on their Android or Fire tablets. I usually don’t, even though a lot of Android apps support  TTS, and even though the Fire tablet supports Ivona as a core feature.

Now they’ve gotten an update. Last week Google quietly started rolling out an updated voice for its TTS service, and this week Amazon followed suit with a similar update for the Fire tablets.

Android Authority reported last Wednesday that Google had updated the US voice for its TTS engine which is “new, smoother and less disjointed”. It’s said to have “more natural intonation” and a more fluid delivery which is more life-like.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader
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Why do we love Jane Eyre?

27 February 2016

From the BBC and thanks to Brendan for the tip.

 

Who’s Making Money from Pirated Audiobooks on YouTube?

19 February 2016

From Readers Entertainment:

Pirating books is a practice that has been around for years.  Someone copies a book and uploads it to a sharing site for others to download for free or for a cost.  It is a constant battle that authors and publishers face as a part of doing business.

Recently, I was searching YouTube for a book trailer, but what I found was an audiobook.  Someone had recorded the audiobook and put it up on YouTube to share.  So, I started looking into how many audiobooks were on YouTube and was surprised at how many I found there.  And though I can’t say it surprised me that people were pirating audiobooks, what did intrigue me was that the audiobook videos on YouTube had ads on them.

Why is this so intriguing?  Because of my extensive experience with YouTube videos, I knew that Google, who owns YouTube, has a policy in place for copyrighted material.  When material is discovered to be copyrighted, Google contacts the copyright owner and asks gives them a choice.

  1. To remove the material entirely.
  2. To allow ads against the material with revenue share. Meaning YouTube and the copyright owner make money off the ads.

If the copyright owner allows advertisements to appear on or next to the material they get a percentage of the revenue brought in by those ads.

I contacted Google/YouTube to ask them about the audiobooks I found and the ads on them.  I was contacted by Stephanie Shih of Google who send me what she called “Background information” on how things work regarding copyright infringement and how it is handled.

She confirmed their policy to give copyright holders the option to have the material deleted or monetized.  According to her information as of October 2014 YouTube has paid out of $1 Billion to rightsholders who have chosen to monetize claims since Content ID first launched in 2007.

Link to the rest at Readers Entertainment and thanks to Suzan for the tip.

Scribd Announces Major Changes to Subscription Service

17 February 2016

From Digital Book World:

As part of the re-structured service, all Scribd users will receive unlimited access to “Scribd Select” books and audiobooks, a rotating collection spread across a variety of genres. In addition, all users will have access to three books and one audiobook of their choice each month from the entire Scribd catalog. Titles from Scribd Selects do not count toward the user-chosen titles.

The monthly fee will remain $8.99, and the changes will go into effect sometime in mid-March.

The announcement comes on the heels of two changes to its service Scribd made last year. In June, the company reduced the amount of romance books it offered, and in August it eliminated the unlimited audiobook component of its service and instead transitioned to a credit system, disincentivizing so-called “power readers” from listening to a disproportionate amount of audiobooks each month.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Jan for the tip.

Amazon Hiring Comedians, Engineers for Growing Audio Service

31 January 2016

From Bloomberg:

Amazon.com Inc. is ramping up its investment in podcasts and other radio-style shows to expand the types of programming it offers via Audible, the audio book company it acquired in 2008.

Audible has recruited well-known comedians, along with radio and podcast producers for the initiative, and job postings suggest a significant global push. Maria Bamford and Jonathan Katz are taping episodes of “Bedtime Stories,” a show in which comedians rewrite fairy tales, according to their manager Bruce Smith.

Entertainment plays a crucial role in Amazon’s effort to push beyond its core business of selling books, laundry detergent and televisions online. The Seattle-based company’s original films and TV shows have won critical acclaim and helped increase the appeal of its $99-a-year Prime service, which includes delivery discounts along with video and music streaming. Audible has more than 250,000 audio programs including books and plays, with downloads available for iPhones, Androids and other smartphone systems.

“Amazon is doing to Audible what it’s done to Prime Video — investing in original programming,” said Nick Quah, an executive at the Graham Holdings Co.’s Panoply podcast network who also writes a newsletter about the industry. “Amazon is hiring a ton of really good producers and managers out of public radio to acquire podcasts and develop shows of their own.”

. . . .

Podcasts and other radio programs are a sweetener for existing members and to entice new ones. Audible sells products individually, along with monthly subscriptions that include access to a certain number of titles, reinforcing Amazon’s push to engage online shoppers with gadgets and entertainment offerings.

Radio-style programs could also be a good extension of Amazon’s voice-activated speaker Echo, which already plays customized news from National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.

Link to the rest at Bloomberg and thanks to Nate for the tip.

Libraries Lend Record Numbers of Ebooks and Audiobooks in 2015

6 January 2016

From Digital Book World:

Overdrive, the leading supplier of digital content to libraries and schools, reported Tuesday that, in 2015, readers borrowed more than 169 million ebooks. This marked a 24-percent increase over 2014. There was also a notable spike in audiobook usage, which saw a faster growth rate than ebook library borrowing.

. . . .

• Ebook circulation was 125 million (19-percent growth over 2014)
• Digital audiobook circulation was 43 million (36-percent growth over 2014)
• Streaming video circulation was up 83 percent over 2014
• 33 library systems circulated 1 million or more digital books in 2015
• Lending of digital magazines and newspapers grew significantly in 2015 (introduced in late 2014)
• Reader visits to OverDrive-powered library and school websites was 750 million (up 14 percent from 2014)

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

You Can Now Download The Harry Potter Audiobooks From Audible

23 November 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

Beginning today, the digital audiobook editions of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are available for purchase at audible.com, audible.co.uk, audible.de and audible.com.au. Up until now, customers who wanted audiobook versions of the titles had to purchase physical copies from retailers, or download the titles from J.K. Rowling’s website/company, Pottermore.

The various Audible sites will feature the narration performances originally recorded for audiobook format in their respective territories: Jim Dale in the North American version, Felix von Manteuffel in the German version, and Stephen Fry for the version sold in the U.K. and the rest of the world. The North American version can be downloaded in the U.S. at audible.com/HarryPotter.

Audible is the sole subscription-based service to offer the Harry Potter series as digital audiobooks, and this new arrangement gives customers the opportunity to listen to the Harry Potter titles at a significantly reduced cost.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

The State of a Genre Title, 2015

11 August 2015

From John Scalzi:

Eighteen months ago, as Redshirts moved from its hardcover era into trade paperback, I did an examination of its sales to the point, across all its formats, and chatted about what its sales meant, or didn’t mean, and what we could learn from the numbers. Last week, Lock In, my most recent novel (until tomorrow), transitioned from hardcover to mass market paperback, and I thought it would be interesting and possibly useful to do something similar with it. So I asked for numbers from my publishers. Here they are, up to July 31, 2015. The numbers are rounded to the nearest 100.

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For those who choose not to whip out their calculators, that’s total sales of 87,500 copies in Lock In’s hardcover sales era, in hardcover, eBook and audiobook. Note the hardcover/eBook sales do not include the UK edition of Lock In, published by Gollancz, nor any foreign language editions. These are North American edition sales (Audible owns world English rights for its version, and so the audio numbers may include sales outside North America). Note also that the audiobook numbers are sales, not downloads, important because Lock In had two versions, and the pre-orders included both versions.

So, thoughts on these numbers.

1. 87.5k is a pretty healthy number for sales here. If you want to do a comparison to Redshirts, the total sales numbers are up (Redshirts sold 79.2k in its hardcover era), although Redshirts‘ time in hardcover was shorter, so in all it may be a wash. The distribution of sales is also a reminder that all sales channels matter — if I were to lose access to bookstore distribution, for example, I’d lose roughly a quarter of my total sales for this sales pass. If I weren’t doing audio, in this particular case (I’ll discuss this more a couple of points down), I would have lost nearly half.

This continues to be my major concern with digital-only self-publishing, incidentally: there’s money being left on the table if you can’t address all these sales channels. Most self-publishers (or micro publishers) don’t have access to bookstores, nearly all of which continue to operate on a “returns” basis. This is not about the ability to create a physical copy of a book; at this point that can easily be done with print-on-demand options. It’s about having the book already on the shelves, attractively packaged and ready to buy, when the customer walks into the store. If you don’t have that, you’ve largely lost out in that sales avenue. Likewise audio if you’re not there.

At this point in my career, I’m a four-quadrant author, which means that at the end of the day my income as a novelist comes out of four areas: print, eBook, audio, and foreign sales. For any one book or project, one of these might be significantly out of proportion to others, in terms of sales. But over the length of time, they’ve all tended to even out as backlist sales kick in and other factors come into play. At this time, and I expect still for a while to come, the best way to address all these markets effectively and consistently is to partner with publishers.

. . . .

What does this tell us (anecdotally) about audio? One, that genre work can sell very well indeed in the segment, which should be immensely heartening to authors in genre; two, that audio as a segment is growing and it makes sense to get into it if you can; three, that audio has its own audience, with its own sets of desires and expectations, and that’s something you’ll want to factor in as you create you work. At this point I absolutely give consideration to how my worksounds as well as reads — I’m starting to use substantially fewer dialogue tags (“he said,” “she said”), as an example.

This also goes to my argument of why working with established publishers can continue to have its advantages for writers. Audible (in my case, other major audio publishers in the case of other authors) has the wherewithal to get the best narrators, an entire marketing and PR staff and the ability to push a title in the space, in a manner and with the wide-band strength that it would be very difficult for me, as an individual, to do. They do it well, which is a thing, and they also do it better than I would, which is another, separate thing. I benefit, and reach an audience I wouldn’t otherwise, through their competence and expertise. Which is why I’m glad to be working with them.

Which suggests this is a fine place to bring this up: Last Friday I signed a multi-year, multi-book contract with Audible, who will be the audiobook publisher for the books that are to be published by Tor over the next decade. I’m going to skip over the fiddly details of that contract right, except to say that I’m very very happywith it, and also very happy to be working with Audible for the next decade. Like Tor, they are simply the best at what they do, and I like working with the best.

Link to the rest at John Scalzi and thanks to Dale for the tip.

Here’s a link to John Scalzi’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Audible Royalties

6 August 2015

Mrs. PG recently received an email from a writer friend regarding Audible royalties.

The narrator the writer friend had always worked with on her audiobooks didn’t want to do any more work for Audible on a royalty-share basis because of the $1.99 purchase price for Whispersync versions of the author’s ebooks. The narrator said the royalties would be too low.

Mrs. PG only recently issued her first audiobook via Audible, so PG doesn’t have much real-world experience to review in detail.

A quick scan of audiobook prices for Amazon’s bestsellers showed fiction audiobooks ranging from $10-$14. Audible says Whispersync prices range from $1.99 to $12.99.

Of course, for Audible audiobooks, you have the $15 per month subscription which gets you one free audiobook per month plus 30% off additional titles.

This matter was discussed on TPV back in 2013. PG doesn’t recall hearing anything about it since.

So, is there something new or is this Internet misinformation?

 

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