retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Fascinating piece in the New York Times over the weekend about what it calls “a growing group of A-list authors bypassing print and releasing audiobook originals, hoping to take advantage of the exploding audiobook market. It’s the latest sign that audiobooks are no longer an appendage of print, but a creative medium in their own right.”

Authors including Michael Lewis, Robert Caro and Jeffery Deaver have made direct deals with Audible, which used to produce audio books for various publishers but now is bidding against traditional publishers, which more and more want to produce their own audio books. The reason? The Times writes that “after years of stagnation in the industry, audiobooks have become a rare bright spot for publishers. While e-book sales have fallen and print has remained anemic, publishers’ revenue for downloaded audio has nearly tripled in the past five years, industry data from the Association of American Publishers shows.”

The Times cites Audible executives as saying that “they are investing in original works in part to meet growing consumer demand and to generate stories that are designed to be listened to rather than read. In the past two years, the company has released 77 original audio works, and it has nearly 150 more in various stages of production. “ Michael Lewis, for example, “is betting Audible will expand his audience and draw even more people to his work,” and has “signed a multiyear contract with Audible for four audio original stories.” Lewis is a publishing brand name - among his books are “The Big Short” and “Moneyball.”

So, let’s examine what we have here.

A traditional business that is stagnating. A disruptive technology that is burgeoning. And a company that then is able to challenge and then compete with legacy businesses.

Sounds familiar? Sound Eye-Opening.

Oh yeah, there’s one more thing.

Audible is owned by Amazon.
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