Prick Up Your Ears – What are the Opportunities for Authors and Publishers in Audio?

Last night, we pricked up our ears to hear all about the opportunities for Authors and Publishers in Audio. Byte the Book hosted a terrific panel at the Groucho Club, chaired by Videl Bar-Kar (former Audio Publisher at PRH). On the panel, we heard from Caroline Raphael (Dora Productions and former BBC Radio 4 Commissioning Editor), Adam Martin (ACast) and John Mitchinson (presenter of Backlisted Podcast, Co-Founder & Publisher at Unbound).

In the UK, the audio industry is worth nearly £100m and has experience double digit growth in recent years. It’s the real success story of our time. It appeals to a wide range of audiences, primarily because you can be doing something else at the same time, whether it’s commuting, cooking, working out or watching TV. There’s a slight skew towards young men which could be a very interesting opportunity for new content for them but there really is interest across the board.

This means that people are engaging with books and content that perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise, whether because they haven’t enjoyed reading in the past, haven’t had access to books or are physically unable to read a book. Audio and podcasts can be a channel for reading discovery that don’t otherwise consider themselves as ‘readers’. This is not only a huge opportunity for new content, diversifying our lists, but also to bring out our backlists in new formats to new audiences. Unbound is a fantastic example of this, having launched Backlisted while also concentrating on bringing out new original content.

Getting the content right is crucial. The stereotypical ‘three white men around a table’ model needs to be challenged to answer to the wider range of ears listening to our content. We need voices with which people can engage and rapport between the speakers that is believable.

Content is king, as we know, and when it comes to audio it really is all about the content as defining what an audiobook is, as opposed to a podcast or radio is difficult. There was a lot of discussion about how we should name this content through sound and we’re sure it will evolve and adapt as new formats and ways of using audio emerge.

For now, let’s make the best audio content we can. Engaging, accessible, discoverable and diverse.

If you’re looking for people or roles in audio publishing, do get in touch!