#LBF24 - The Audio Landscape in Publishing Today

#LBF24 - The Audio Landscape in Publishing Today

Audiobooks and their consequential content are an ever-growing, and impactful mode of consuming entertainment, and were a hot topic at London Book Fair this year and at Inspired we were all ears! It was a fantastic opportunity to hear further on how AI is going to impact audiobooks, how an organization like Spotify have been ’innovating for the future’ along with some key demographic insights from an audiobook powerhouse in Audible, and also how books are created and dramatized for people like yourself. So read on here where we share some new insights and key takeaways on the audio landscape in publishing today!

images of books with headphones

Starting with some insight from Spotify’s seminar on ‘Audiobooks: Innovating for the Future’, Owen Smith (VP for Product and Technology) gave us a fantastic peak into the breadth of work a company like Spotify undergo. Owen mentioned that they have well over 350,000 audio titles on the platform, and that they have been focusing on “accessibility, working directly with authors to grow their audiences”. With over 600 million users of the platform in 180 different markets, the inevitable global rollout of their offering of 15 free hours every month for premium members has been a positive catalyst for change and growth. Being able to overcome the barriers of audiobook production for Owen and the team at Spotify has also been something to consider, with Owen mentioning that “so many authors can’t publish their book due to the barriers of entry and the cost of production”.  Moreover, and to perhaps look ahead to the future of audiobooks on Spotify, the integration of AI has been a useful tool for Spotify. Being able to harness AI to create algorithms that match users with the right title choice has been a great way for new listeners to venture into the format! 

Next up on the audio agenda were Audible, with their panel on an ‘Exponentially growing audience’. Rachel Ghiazza (Chief Content Officer) and Lee Jarit (Head of ACX and NA Publishers Partnerships) shared their really interesting insight into the types of listeners who use Audible, and how they are trying to engage and nurture their customers. The first thing Rachel mentioned was that audiobooks aren’t a one size fits all product, and that supporting local needs and requirements is paramount. For example, last year they were able to launch Audible in Brazil, working closely with the Brazilian creative community including 500 narrators and thousands of new titles. Rachel went on to mention that being able to adapt to other markets has been, and continues to be key for them, for example in regions such as Italy, Spain and Japan, they work more on an ‘All You Can Listen Model’. 

Preparing audiobooks and being able to dramatize them was also something that was covered at LBF, with Andrew Mark Sewell (Creative Director at B7 Media) and Richard Kurti (The Shooting Stars Movie Factory) describing all the nuances of an audio titles production process. One of the main points discussed was dealing with iconic characters in audiobooks, and how giving them a vision can be hard, but delivering quality and an essence is so important! The impression of a character’s accent doesn’t have to be right, but the essence has to be there. Moreover, Helen Goldwyn (Director at Big Finnish Productions) mentioned that you have to be harsh at times, and questioning how bits of text in a novel really do provide some significance to the plot and narrative, especially with the time constraints. Finally, budgets are tight for portions of the process, but special effects, lighting and building the audible environment are limitless, and can be what makes or breaks an audio title.  

All in all, audio is an exciting and ever-growing field of publishing, with so much potential for growth and change. Below are some key takeaways from our trip around the audio seminars at LBF 2024: 

  1. Companies are driving accessibility forwards, and are keen to work with local authors and publishers to grow audiences!
  2. Audiobooks can bring so many benefits to those with less time on their hands including; reducing stress, and supporting empathy and creativity. 
  3. AI is playing a part in the curation side of audiobook titles, with brands like Spotify using it to create well-curated lists for subscribers. 
  4. Globally, 75% of the listening on Audible is with backlist titles, and within that, 77% of their list listen in the car!
  5. Innovating and enhancing audio titles is a constant occurrence, with Dolby Atmos enhancing titles for US publishers, and enhanced cover art being a new tool for customer engagement.

If audio is an area of interest, do have a look at a podcast we have done with Jo Forshaw - Jo Forshaw audio podcast - on how publishers can transform audio content into real assets! If you are interested in a career within audiobook publishing then do make sure to get in touch with our trade team with a copy of your CV! 




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