Late November this year Folium Partners, LLC will launch the world’s first automated audiobook and app-creation service under the name ModernBookFactory.com. The service will give the opportunity to independent digital publishers, authors and copyright owners to upload their manuscripts, select narrators and receive professionally produced audio. ModernBookFactory also produce the books as self-contained audiobook apps within 30 days. As platform to distribute to the audience they will use the Apple iTunes App Store, the Andriod Market and place the book on the copyright owner’s own website as digital download.
For the first time in writer history, self-published authors will be able to reach the audience through their smartphone and mobile tablet devices and turn them into multimedia enriched audiobook players. Authors will have the ability to include background material, photo, images, maps an other rich content to explore the creative potential offered by apps an digital publishing. Although self-publishing is becoming more popular and accepted, the number of audiobooks by not so well known authors isn’t increasing that much. This service is a good initiative to create a broader diversity into the audiobook supply and give new authors a chance to play with the multimedia aspects of audiobooks on digital devices. Today, that combination of publishing, producing and creating is only affordable for the largest publishers.
OverDrive is a big player in the field of distributing of audiobooks and eBooks to libraries and retailers. OverDrive mobile applications, which reaches millions of Windows, Mac, Android, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry users worldwide. In April this year OverDrive also made a free audiobook application for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The audiobook app has some nice features, users can create bookmarks, resume from the last point played and audiobooks from public library automatically expire so there is never a late fee.
The first audiobook was recorded in the 30s, when the Library of Congress began to distribute free audio books for the blind. So, the audiobook is already an old concept from cassettes to CD’s, MP3’s and preloaded digital format. The development which is interesting here is the fastest growing segment on the market, the downloadable digital formats which are largely sold through online retailers such as Audible, Simply Audiobooks and eMusic. Looking at the APA sales data we can see the growth in market share in the US from 6% in 2003 to 17% downloads in 2007.
Interestingly, while market share is certainly shifting among these formats, none have been displaced outright. Drawing on the latest APA sales data, we can observe the following change in format market share in the US between 2003 and 2007, and a clear trend toward increased CD and online sales.
An often debated topic is off course the paper book vs. the audiobook, people who are big fans of books and the using their imagination while reading often argue against the concept of audiobooks. But there are just a few benefits the audiobook has which couldn’t be possible with a paper book such as ‘reading’ in the traffic jam, ‘reading’ while jogging in the park etc. In the age of multitasking audiobooks can really be a blessing. Also for people who are visually impaired, have weak eyesight it’s a great opportunity not to miss out on the worlds literature. It can be helpful to develop a better understanding of the language, pronunciation and phonetics. In other words, audiobooks play an role in entertaining or educating people while they are otherwise engaged in an activity that prevents them from reading a printed book.