Earlier this month our First Friday Club guest was Matthew Gain, Head of Operations for Audible Australia and New Zealand. At Audible, Matthew combines his vast experience of brand and content creation with his love of storytelling. Matthew believes in the power of the voice to bring stories and characters to life. His favourite audio book is Matilda by Roald Dahl, narrated by Kate Winslet.
Our Project and Communications Officer Bridget Lutherborrow chatted with Matthew about the many benefits and possibilities of this growing literary market.
What does Audible provide and how does it work?
Audible is the largest online seller of audio books in the world, with over 200,000 titles in their catalogue. They offer both fiction and non-fiction titles, many of which are narrated by well-known actors such as Sean Penn, Stephen Fry and Scarlett Johansson. Audible are also the exclusive provider of audio books to iTunes.
Audible is a subscription service much like Netflix or Spotify. Each month subscribers will receive one credit point that they can put towards the purchase of audio books.
Audio books is the fastest growing sector in the publishing industry, with sales tending to match the sales of physical books and eBooks. If a book is a bestseller in stores, then it is likely to be a bestseller on Audible’s website. Although there isn’t much awareness in Australia, Audible has a recording studio in Sydney and records 100 books a year in this country alone. In some instances content is commissioned by Audible, which includes book content, short form and podcast content. Audible also buys the audio rights from publishers such as Harper Collins.
If a book takes 10 hours to read, it will generally take 20 hours to record. A recording session includes a narrator, an editor and a producer who are on hand to manage errors in a recording.
What are then benefits for readers?
While Matthew is an enthusiastic buyer of books, he confesses to not being very good at reading them. Audio books have enabled him to listen to them during long flights or whilst running and says that he has about 20 audio books stored on his phone. Matthew stressed that audio books are great for people who love books and want to fit more into their lives. Whether you are in the car, at the gym or cleaning the house, audio books are perfect for when your eyes are busy but your mind is free.
What are the benefits/advantages for authors?
Matthew encouraged authors to think about how audio books can open up new ways for authors to sell their work. The audio rights to a work can either be sold along with the book rights or handled separately – it’s entirely up to the author.
Matthew said, ‘Often times authors are thinking about the physical book’, but he encouraged authors to instead ask themselves ‘How do I make my stories as consumable as possible?’. He offered Nick Earls as a good example of this, who created a series of novellas that were easily marketable as audio books. Each novella is about two hours long.
Matthew also suggested checking in with your local library and asking them about their audio book section. The more interest authors show in publishing their work this way, the more attention this medium will receive.
The future of audio books?
‘I think we’re at the start of our journey. The potential is endless’, Matthew says on the future of audio books. Some recordings are already starting to include sound effects and background noises to deepen the sense of atmosphere.
He reminded members that audio books are not necessarily a new concept; radio plays and talk back shows have been popular with audiences over the last several decades. This is simply an evolving industry that is trying to keep up with the ways in which we engage with literature. According to Matthew, making a comparison between reading and listening is to miss the point – both lead to the same outcome, which is to finish more books and enjoy more stories.
Don’t forget to RSVP to our next First Friday Club!