For Audio Publishers, Digital Media Is the Wave of the Present: APA President Anthony Goff on How Publishers Are Adapting
Audiobook publishers can hear the train coming and are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, says Anthony Goff, president of the Audio Publishers Association (APA), and publisher director of Hachette Audio and Digital Media. Goff believes that the recent, significant decline in audiobook sales—the Association of American Publishers (AAP) reported a 47.1-percent decrease in audiobook sales from March 2008 to March 2009—will likely result in audiobook publishers stepping aboard the train and steering ahead on the changing tracks.
More and more, according to Goff, audiobook readers are purchasing digital downloads and visiting libraries to satiate their literary appetites. This reality was evident in this year's programming of the APA's annual conference, held on May 28, in New York City. The conference offered information to publishers on digital media as well as trimming marketing budgets, meeting the challenges of slim library budgets and reduced retail sales, and increasing efficiency and productivity.
Goff offered Book Business his thoughts on the state of the audio publishing industry and opportunities he sees for growth.
Book Business Extra: Why do you believe audiobook sales are declining so steeply?
Anthony Goff: We feel [that] ... with the price points of the audiobooks [being what they are], they are certainly a luxury item. So I think that a lot of people are not going into bookstores right now and dropping $29, $39, $49 on audiobooks. Instead, they're downloading them and going to the libraries. ... [Additionally,] a lot of people have been losing their jobs; a lot of people are spending less time on the road [where they often listen to audiobooks]. ... [However,] things are looking brighter right now. We've seen a little bit of turnaround in buying patterns at major accounts. ... If people don't see [the audiobooks] ... at retail [stores], they're not able to purchase them at retail [stores]. ... Some of what audio publishers publish right now are not making their way to retailers because the retailers are buying the biggest, most commercial, best-selling titles and are passing on … the mid-list or make books, or smaller niche books. ...