Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment in publishing with double-digit growth in markets across the world. Podcasting has gone mainstream with listeners consuming audio on mobile phones and in-car devices, as well as through smart speakers.
With the fast-paced technological advancements, the good old reading behaviors are getting morphed.The attention deprived reader lurks unhappily binging on content, moving from one interest to the other – but, with audio books one can attempt toregain the lost audience and make them fall in love with the books once again. I mean who hasn’t loved a good audiobook, while on commute and who hasn’t waited for a dose of the episodes of their favourite comics released on radio.
Listening is therapeutic, almost cathartic, where the listener enters the realm of your imagination through a voice. It engages the audience, though through a different sense. There are various audiobook apps (listed below are a few popular ones) which can engage the reader with a detailed reading list:
Audible remains the powerhouse among the best audiobooks apps, with more than 470,000 titles in its library. Audible’s audiobook player offers solid playback features, with chapter navigation, bookmarks, a sleep mode, variable playback speed and multitasking support for background playback and downloading.
RB Audiobooks’ cloud-based Audiobooks.com platform also is a solid choice among the best audiobook apps for Android and iOS listeners, allowing subscribers to choose from a library of more than 150,000 audiobooks from every genre that they can stream or download for offline listening.
Rather than spending a fortune on a fat novel or audiobook, readers and listeners can spring for shorter, episodic content through Serial Box, which offers bite-sized chunks of novels perfect for your commute or breaktime.
Google Play Books builds in audiobook features, allowing the listener to listen to the purchased audiobooks across platforms and devices. This enables listeners to pick up where they left off on their Android device, iPhone, or desktop PC. It allowsone to skip ahead or scroll along the timeline, jump to chapters, and configure playback speed and a snooze timer.
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While Kobo may not have the same big name recall of Amazon in the e-books and audiobooks market, it offers a rich library of e-books and audiobooks in its online marketplace and reader apps. Kobo’s audiobook player covers your basics, with a timeline scrubber bar, time-skip buttons, chapter navigation, playback speed configuration and a snooze timer.
Bookmobile is a well-regarded iOS Audiobook player for those looking to play DRM-free (digital rights management) audiobooks. Bookmobile supports DRM-locked content from iTunes and Audible, as well as DRM-free content ripped from CDs or downloaded, including M4B and MP3 audiobooks. The app features a thoughtful control scheme designed to keep you from easily losing your place and includes drive and sleep modes, as well as supporting background playback.
If you’re looking to listen to DRM-free audiobooks already in your collection, Smart AudioBook Player is a popular choice for Android devices that comes with a good selection of features, such as variable playback speed, bookmarking, an audio equalizer, some basic collection management features, a sleep timer and control widgets for the notification tray and your home screen.
For the Authors
Now, if you are an author and looking on to upload an audiobook here are a few things you would need to keep in mind. The challenge for a lot of writers, is that they tend to be introverts. So, the notion of getting up in front of people, to begin with, is terrifying. In that case one could just hire a professional artist or a recording studio artist to record the book for you. There are two components to publishing your audiobook:
1) Audiobook Production and
2) Audiobook Distribution
Audiobook production is the process by which your written book is narrated and recorded into an audiobook. When it comes to audiobook production you have two options: You can record the audiobook yourself or you can hire a professional to record your audiobook.
To narrate your own audiobook you will need a quiet place to record, equipment and software, time, and some technical expertise. By far the biggest investment will be in the times it takes you to narrate your book and the time it takes you to edit your audio files in post-production.
It is most common for authors to perform their audiobook themselves in non-fiction where the voice the audience expects to hear is consistent with the author’s voices. It’s less common in fiction where the depth of characters and potential range of voice ages, accents, or dialects can become overwhelming and, perhaps, better suited for a professionally trained voice actor.
The Do it All Dilemma
Many authors choose to hire a professional to record their audiobook rather than trying to tightrope through being the do it all phenomenon. When hiring a professional narrator the process usually goes like this:
- You create an account at one of the audiobook publishers or production companies
- You find a narrator by listening to their auditions
- You and the narrator reach an agreement on how much they will get paid for each finished hour of the audiobook.
- The narrator will record and upload the audiobook, which you will then approve. You pay the producer and receive your audio file.
As with eBooks, Amazon has the lion’s share of the audio market through Audible. But there are other players out there in addition to Audible. Audiobooks.com and iTunes have the #2 and #3 spots with services like Google Play, Kobo, Overdrive and Scribd growing within the “Other” segment of the market for online sales.
Your first decision will be whether you want to be exclusive to Amazon/Audible/iTunes by distributing through ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) or whether you want to have non-exclusive distribution that will enable you to get your book on Amazon/Audible/iTunes AND other retailers, services and libraries like Google Play, Kobo, Nook, Overdrive and Scribd. The benefit to being exclusive to Amazon is that you will receive higher royalty rates.
The benefit to non-exclusive distribution is that your book will be available at many more retailers. However, as with most things self-publishing, authors can choose between exclusivity and control for audiobook distribution, and DIY or professional help for audiobook production and take part in the booming industry of audiobooks. Whatever you choose, remember the listener is getting keener already.
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