Thursday, December 25, 2014

Global Audiobook Trends for 2015


In 2007 a paltry 3,073 audiobook titles were produced and this figure rose exponentially to over 12,000 published in 2011. In 2013 many industry experts proclaimed that over 20,000 audiobooks were now available and in 2014 over 35,000 were released by major publishers and companies like Audible.

The global audiobook industry is currently worth 2.6 billion dollars and part of the reason why we have seen a dramatic increase in profitability is due to digital. In a recent  New York Times piece, they said “In the first eight months of 2014, sales were up 28% over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6%"

One of the biggest markets for audiobooks in the world, is not the US or UK but Germany. In a recent annual survey conducted by the Allensbach Institute said that Germans consume more audiobooks than e-books. In the last twelve months, close to five million Germans have purchased an audiobook, which accounts for 7% of the overall population. This is one of the hottest segments currently operating and ironically gets the least amount of attention.

Digital audiobooks are finally starting to find their stride thanks to libraries embracing them in a big way. There are a number of major players providing audio services to libraries, 3M Cloud Library, Baker & Taylor, Hoopla and Overdrive. For the most part, these are the exact same companies that provide the libraries e-Book portfolio. In the US, 95% of all libraries have a digital collection and audio content is starting to play a more central role.

Audiobooks actually works fairly differently than e-Books do, on a business level. Many of the top distributors lean on 3rd parties for a full catalog of content. 3M and Baker and Taylor both get their audio editions from Findaway World, which is current market leader in production. Findaway has a catalog of over 50,000 titles and maintains production studios, narrators and crew in New York. Overdrive has their own internal solution, where they approach publishers directly and don't do business with companies such as Audible or Findaway World.

Tom Mercer, Marketing Manager of 3M Cloud Library said "we see a tremendous opportunity to grow in the Audio space in 2015. Right now we're two weeks into the "real world" of Audio, but customers really seem to like our solution. Our initial Beta feedback from very positive."

Hoopla is an audiobook solution for libraries that floats under the radar, but are quickly making a name for themselves. The company has a catalog of 13,000 titles with 1,000 added each month. Hoopla deals with over 100 libraries in the US and charges no licensing fees with setting up the system, which is quite appealing to the average library. How does Hoopla make money? The company has employed the Pay Per Use model, which only charges the library when a specific title is checked out by a patron. The San Francisco Public Library said they are are predicting that in 2015 more companies will embrace the Hoopla model, which will lower costs for libraries and get more content in-front of the patrons.

How well are the publishers doing in the audiobook sector? Cheryl Herman, marketing director for Penguin Random House's Books on Tape & Listening Library said. "Our library sales for digital audio are up nearly 35% over 2014, we're offering more and more titles on audio, and we're not alone in that. There are also more players entering the market, and more titles overall being published than ever before."


Audible is the undisputed market leader in audiobook production and distribution. Matthew Thornton the Director of Communications at Audible said “Audible content includes over 180,000 audiobooks and other spoken-word programming from leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers. Non-audiobook content includes lectures, meditations, language lessons, comedy and periodicals.” Audible has added 40,000 titles their store in 2014, a very slight increase versus 2013. In both 2013 and 2014, Audible Studios and ACX productions account for just about half of all titles added to the Audible storefront.

Audible has seen a massive amount of success by branching out in international markets, where their is more synergy between Kindle e-readers and tablets. Matthew proudly exclaimed “Audible now operates thirteen global outlets including in London, in Berlin, in Paris and in Sydney.”

One of the big reasons why Audible adds so much content to their portfolio on a yearly basis is due to the Amazon Creation Exchange. Publishers and authors who own unused audiobook rights can post them on ACX, along with narration preferences (e.g., narrator's gender, accents, voice types). Audio publishers and audio studios—as well as individual narrators with home studios—can search for titles that interest them and then audition to turn those rights into audiobooks. Rights holders can hire a narrator or producer, or create entrepreneurial partnerships with shared royalty structures that allow audiobooks to be produced without upfront costs. Alternatively, existing audio publishers can simply use ACX to discover audio rights to produce on their own.

Production Costs and Star Power


Audiobook prices are often drastically inflated and is a financial barrier for mainstream adoption. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green costs $4.99 for the Kindle edition, but the audiobook costs $17.99. Max Brooks seminal World War Z – The Oral History of the Zombie Wars costs $9.99 for the Kindle edition, but the audiobook will set you back $28.00.

Why are audiobooks so overpriced compared to e-Books and print? It comes down to billable hours. It comes down to the studio costs, which the publishers call cost per finished hour. Each audiobook is on average around 12 hours, which costs on average $300 and $400 an hour. They also have to account for multiple takes and editing. The finished product after its all said and done is normally $5,000 to $6,000 to make the audiobbook.

Some companies ride on the back of star power to draw attention to the digital edition and use them for marketing purposes. The aforementioned World War Z hired 21 different voice actors, such as Simon Pegg, Common and Martin Scorsese. Even hiring just one famous person to narrate the book, drives the production costs up exponentially. The average cost is now $1000 to $1500 per book hour and the final product would cost over $17,000.

Matthew Thornton explained a bit on how Audible embraces star power. “One of the ways we’ve worked to improve the overall customer experience of listening to audiobooks is in elevating the quality of audiobook performance—embracing A-List celebrities (among those who've recorded for Audible are Colin Firth, Dustin Hoffman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Winslet and Susan Sarandon) as well as up-and-coming young actors at Juilliard, Yale, Stella Adler and other acting schools where Audible offers narration workshops. We’ve had great success with celebrity-narrated projects like the Gyllenhaal-narrated The Great Gatsby, Ben Stiller performing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  As importantly, high-profile narrators raise the visibility of these terrific listening experiences—something we liken to "theater in your ear"—and raise the visibility of this burgeoning art form.”

Major Publishes and companies that are heavily invested in audiobooks really have to look at what titles are best suited to make the transition. Any of the perennial bestsellers and books slatted to be made into a major motion picture are often the first ones slatted for production.  They basically have to insure with the other titles can be money earners and not loss leaders.

Newspapers Embrace Audio

guardian audio

Audio these days is not only reserved for fiction and non-fiction books, but newspaper companies have been embracing this model as well.

The Guardian newspaper forged a relationship with Audible. Every week the Guardian Audio Edition will hit Audible, and give you a feel for the UK's book scene and new book releases. Audible will also sponsor the Guardian Books homepage, its weekly books podcast, and its books review pages, with co-branded advertising across the newspaper's website and print edition.

One of the big trends in journalism these days has been audio editions of their top stories. The Guardian started do this early and regularly garners 17 to 30 thousand listens for each audio edition they post. The New York Times and New Yorker also do select audio and make it available on their websites, but also Audible. Good e-Reader has also experimented with this new way to tell stories, and goes deeper into the issues. In one of our recent stories, we had over 5,000 listens within two days.

Vancouver based PressReader is also heavily involved with the audio capabilities of newspapers. Every single one of their 3,000 newspapers have text to speech functionality, they will read any story you want aloud. This makes sense for people who can no longer read the tangible paper, without a magnifying glass or have other vision problems.

Whats Next?


Listening to audiobooks has never been easier. Libraries all over the world now offer the service and Audible distributes their entire catalog of titles not only through their own app and Kindle devices, but also sources everything to iTunes. How can the industry get customers to listen to more digital editions?

The largest bookseller in the US, Barnes and Noble got into audiobooks in late November 2014 is  hoping to capitalize on the trend and advertise them in their entire chain of retail stores. Kashif Zafar, Vice President of US Digital Content at NOOK Media told Good e-Reader exclusively that his company is putting a company wide focus on audio titles and this is a huge priority for them.

In order to get customers invested in the Nook ecosystem they are promoting the fact they have 50,000 audiobooks from major publishers and every week there will be listing five free audiobooks that new users can browse and download two for free. There is no signup required or credit card needed for the account in order to take advantage of this promotion. The titles were exclusively vetted to span multiple genres and picked especially for the overall quality of the narration. During the first week the following titles will be available; Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Ender's Game (Ender Quintet #1) by Orson Scott Card, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Heist (Fox and O'Hare Series #1) by Janet Evanovich and Seabiscuit by Lauren Hillenbrand.

Will the serious e-Book reader embrace audiobooks the same way they switched from print to digital? It doesn’t look too likely, recently we ran a poll that asked 384 people if they listed to them. 33% have never listened to an audiobook before and 23% said they at least tried, but gave up. A paltry 14% said they listen to audiobooks all the time, which is the main challenge the publishing industry is facing.

Global Audiobook Trends for 2015 is a post from: Good e-Reader

Weekly eHighlights – Video edition

December has been an exciting month for streaming video. OverDrive now offers content from Warner Bros. & MGM! These titles are available under a transactional, Cost Per Circ (CPC) access model. This model enables simultaneous use and allows libraries to budget based on checkouts, which is a form of patron-driven acquisition. You can view the full MGM & Warner Bros. catalogs in Marketplace now. We've also added a plethora of excellent children's television shows, star-studded blockbusters, and award-winning documentaries. Check out a sample of the best titles below and click here for the full Marketplace list.

Feature Films

Child of God | Cinedigm – Drama, Thriller
James Franco's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's controversial novel about a desperate man's downward spiral into violence and crime. Venice Film Festival Golden Lion nominee. eBook also available.

Color Me Kubrick | Magnolia Pictures – Comedy
The true story of a man who posed as director Stanley Kubrick despite knowing very little about his work and looking nothing like him. Starring John Malkovich. Nominated for a Golden Hitchcock Award.

Everything is Illuminated | Warner Bros. – Comedy, Drama
A powerful film about a young man's journey to piece together his family story. Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. Both the film and book have received critical acclaim. Starring Elijah Wood. eBook also available

Last Tango in Paris | MGM – Drama
A man is torn apart by his wife's suicide and attempts to bury his grief in a sudden, purely carnal relationship with an alluring stranger. Starring Marlon Brando. Nominated for two Academy Awards and a Golden Globe.

The Miracle Worker | MGM – Drama
Based on the play by William Gibson, this film revolves around the story of Anne Sullivan and her remarkable blind and deaf pupil, Helen Keller. ** Winner of Academy Award for Best Actress & Best Supporting Actress.**eBook also available.

Natural Born Killers | Warner Bros. – Thriller
The misadventures of Mickey and Mallory: outcasts, lovers, and serial killers. Starring Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey, Jr., & Tommy Lee Jones. Nominated for a Golden Globe & winner of three Venice Film Festival awards. OverDrive staff favorite.

Romulus, My Father | Magnolia Pictures – Drama
A story of impossible love that ultimately celebrates the unbreakable bond between father and son. Starring Eric Bana. Winner of Australian Film Institute Award for Best Film, Best Lead Actor, & Best Supporting Actor. eBook also available.

Trust | Millennium Entertainment – Drama
A suburban family is torn apart when 14-year-old Annie is seduced by an online predator. Starring Catherine Keener & Clive Owen. Directed by David Schwimmer.


A Touch of Frost | MPI Media Group – Crime, British Television
Detective Inspector Jack Frost is an unconventional policeman with sympathy for the underdog and an instinct for moral justice. BAFTA & National Television Awards (UK) winner.

Braceface | Nelvana – Cartoon, Children's television
An 8th grader must deal with magical braces on top of all the issues that accompany being a teenager. Starring Alicia Silverstone. Nominated for a Daytime Emmy and won three Genesis Awards. OverDrive staff favorite.

Franklin | Nelvana – Cartoon, Children's television
The popular books series about Franklin the turtle and his pals comes to life in this animated series. eBooks also available.

Max & Ruby | Nelvana – Cartoon, Children's television
An adorable series about the day-to-day life of two tiny bunnies.Nominated for a Writers Guild of Canada Award. eBooks also available.

Rolie Polie Olie | Nelvana – Cartoon, Children's television
Robot Olie discovers the values of friendship, family, and growing up to be a great kid. Annie Award, Daytime Emmy, & Gemini Award Winner.

Documentary & Instructional

Alaska: Spirit of the Wild | Echelon Studios – Documentary, Nature
A look at how animals & humans adapt to the extremes of the Alaskan wilderness. Narrated by Charlton Heston. Nominated for an Academy Award.

Gonzo | Magnolia Pictures – Documentary, Biography
A portrait of the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Nominated for Sundance Film Festival & Writers Guild of America awards. eBook also available.

Man on Wire | Magnolia Pictures – Documentary
A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."Academy Award & BAFTA winner. 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. eBook also available.

Click here for the full Marketplace list.

Please note that title availability may vary by geographic location and platform.

Michelle Ross is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive.

The New York Times Creates New European Hub in England


The New York Times is expanding into the United Kingdom with the creation of their new central office in London.  They will be using this new headquarters as a launching point for all of their coverage across the continent.

The Times will be hiring over 100 personal to cover news stories all over Europe. They will be closing down their Paris office within the next few months and transferring all of their staff to the UK. Additionally, they intend on hiring over one hundred new people.

According to a Property Week article, the paper's owners have signed a deal for an entire 9,000 sq ft building in Bloomsbury.

The Times right now has no intention to create a dedicated UK daily, but instead will use this new location as a home base to get a better handle on European news. In retrospect, the Guardian also has plans for further expansion into New York. They initially moved into a small office area in 2011 and will be hiring more news hounds in 2015.

UK residents who want to get access to the New York Times can use their official app for iOS or Android to read the paper. If you want to read the replica edition, which has local adverts and mirrors the print edition, you can check it out on PressReader.


The New York Times Creates New European Hub in England is a post from: Good e-Reader

10 Free Kindle eBooks for Christmas, Plus Kindle eBook Deals

Amazon always offers lots of deals on ebooks and other digital content this time of year to fill up new Kindle ereaders and Fire tablets with a bunch of good reading material and content to better enjoy your new devices. In fact Amazon’s Gold Box Deal of the Day offers up to 50% off Kindle […]

Merry Christmas! Got a new Pi? Read on!

If you’re here because you got a Raspberry Pi for Christmas, then Happy Christmas – and welcome to the Raspberry Pi family! If you’re just here for fun, then Happy Christmas too!

The Raspberry Pi is a computer that you can use for all sort of brilliant and useful things, from learning to program, to making robots, to Tweeting when birds visit a nesting box, to taking pictures from the stratosphere.

Here are some tips on setting up and using your Raspberry Pi.

1. Make sure your software is up to date

The most important thing is to make sure that you have the latest version of our New Out Of Box Software (NOOBS). You can check this by starting your Raspberry Pi – here’s Carrie Anne to tell you more.

If you don’t have the latest version (1.3.11) we recommend that you go here to get the latest version and follow the instructions (it’s really easy – just download & unzip it and then drag and drop onto a formatted SD card).

2. Setting up

Full set up instructions and lots of other help are in our Help section. If you have any issues setting up your Raspberry Pi that isn’t answered in the Help section then please visit our forums. Our forum members are a very friendly bunch and will help you with any problems. The FAQ also has lots of tips and useful information


Do make sure that you have a good quality power supply. Some cheaper supplies do not output the power that they claim! Any quality smartphone charger, for example, rated 1A and above would be perfect (raid the kitchen drawers!)

Logging in

When you finally boot up you will be asked to log in. The login is pi and the password is raspberry. Note that nothing appears when you type the password, so tpye caerfuly!

Command line and windows

The Pi boots into a command line where you type instructions to the computer. To start a windows-style graphical user interface, first log in, and then type startx and press enter.

Brain on a stick warning: The Raspberry Pi is special. We built this little computer so that you have to tell it what to do, not the other way round. You’re in charge. It’s a very different experience to unboxing a tablet or laptop—deliberately so!—but because of this it has so much more potential. We accept full responsibility for any learning, thinking or fun that may occur whilst using our product. :)

3. What can you do with your Raspberry Pi?

Because it’s a general purpose computer, you can do loads of stuff. But because it’s also small and light and doesn’t use much power, you can do even more amazing things. And if you just want to use it as a media player then that’s cool with us too.

Want to know more? For younger Pi people we recommend Carrie Anne Philbin’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi, which will get you set up and hacking away in an afternoon. Otherwise we recommend the official User Guide, co-authored by our very own Eben Upton, which will take you from raw beginnings to automating your whole house.

Merry Christmas! We’ll be back in a few days – we’re taking a little while out to spend time with our families. And have nice elevenses with a slice of seed cake and a glass of madeira.

Additional resources and projects

The MagPi magazine is full of help, tutorials, projects and ideas. It’s free and quite excellent.

Did we mention that we have a free version of Minecraft for the Pi? It’s great fun to play, but even better to program and there are some excellent resources to show you how.

Lastly, if you are stuck for inspiration then have a trawl through our blog, which is both excellent reading (Liz just won an award for it, hurrah!) and will also get you thinking,”Wow! I’m going to do that!” Then sidle off to our lovely resources to learn how to do everything from making games, composing music, making time lapse movies and the basics of programming.

Have fun!