A Look At Audiobook Solutions and Providers
“One of the big movements [currently] is to just go digital, because there's no real overhead or cost of goods,” says Greg Boguslawski, head of wholesale sales and merchandising for Blackstone and Downpour.
Audio-First & Audio Products
If the iPod was the device that allowed “digital [to] really hit its stride” in the audiobook business, as Cobb suggests, the iPad will probably prove to be the device that ushers audio into its next wave.
Already, a small number of publishers have begun experimenting with interactive and multimedia variations on the audio-first approach, which involves releasing the audiobook version of a particular title well ahead of its print and e-book companions. Autumn 2012, for instance, saw the release of The Silent History, an iPad- and iPhone-only product created by a self-described “programmer and storyteller,” and which was lauded in Wired magazine as “part book, part multiplayer game, part Google map, and entirely revolutionary.”
Fogland, created by the author Mark Capell, is a much more recent example of an especially unusual audio model. It’s something of a fictional podcast that features multiple episodes, or short stories, which are penned by different writers who explore the goings-on of an imaginary town. The stories are given away free on iTunes, while the text versions appear simultaneously online.
And while that's a model that doesn't immediately appear to be backed by an obvious financial incentive, the larger picture probably exists somewhere between creativity and opportunity. “I think it's fabulous,” says AudioFile's Whitten, referring to the industry's recent leanings toward innovation. “Because there should be creative enterprises around audiobooks.”
Related story: Audiobook Boom Provides Big Opportunities for Publishers
Dan Eldridge is a journalist and guidebook author based in Philadelphia's historic Old City district, where he and his partner own and operate Kaya Aerial Yoga, the city's only aerial yoga studio. A longtime cultural reporter, Eldridge also writes about small business and entrepreneurship, travel, and the publishing industry. Follow him on Twitter at @YoungPioneers.