Technology has offered publishers many different ways to tell stories, present ideas and capture imaginations. While many readers love the feel (and even the smell!) of a physical book, others prefer the convenience of carrying a whole library on their Kindle or smartphone. And an increasing number of people are listening to audiobooks, which offer a different and unique storytelling experience.
From the choice of narrator – whether that’s the comforting familiarity of listening to a well-known actor, or the immersion created by a cast of multiple different voices – to the use of music and sound effects, we can bring stories to life in new ways for people who might not think of themselves as a traditional reader.
Audiobooks are one of the fastest-growing markets within the publishing industry, spurred on by the current audio renaissance which has also seen the popularity of podcasts skyrocket. In 2019 audiobook downloads grew by a whopping 39%, according to the Publishers Association; building on the steady, significant growth of the previous few years. More and more media outlets are reviewing audiobooks independently of their physical book counterparts, and there are also awards which specifically celebrate innovative and best-in-class audiobooks.
At Penguin Random House UK we make a huge range of audiobooks and have done for a long time: the earliest recordings in our catalogue go back to 1987.
So, where do audiobooks fit into the publishing process and what role might an author play in creating them?