The inspiration for this post came from reading a news item about the film ‘Twilight’. It is reported in MCV magazine that publishers missed out on a seven-figure sum income because the publishers / copyright owners did not even consider letting computer game developers create a game version of the film.
The crossover from film release to video game has become very popular in certain film genres, however, the lost millions for the Twilight property owners is said to be down to a lack of knowledge in regards to licensing for games.
I can see a parallel to this in book publishing. It seems that the majority of titles seen in print are still not available in audio format. Furthermore, it seems to me that there is a lack of competition for serious contenders in the audio book download market. Yes, there are a small number of independents, but Audible seem to be the dominant force.
As an Audible customer myself, I feel that the service they offer could be improved in a couple of significant ways, (not a topic for this post though) and for this reason, I would be happy to try a good alternative. The problem is that I am not aware of a credible alternative for audio book downloads and do not wish to buy CD audio books…for a start, the first thing I have to do is convert it to mp3 for my portable player.
My observation as an audio book listener is that nearly all of the books I listen to are from American publishers narrated with American voice overs and although I enjoy listening to these, there are numerous UK published books that I would like to listen to but can’t.
It seems to me that there is a slow uptake on the audio book business model, which is surprising when The APA reported the industry to be worth $923 million in 2008.
An added complication to this matter is to do with intellectual property and copyrights. For example, I was not able to purchase a US audio book download but had to order it on a CD, which was classed as an import. This was because the publisher had only given download permission for the US, but was happy to sell the CD version globally.
At the other side of the scale, I believe that independent book publishers may be in a better position to exploit this format, but many seem resistant due to the audio book production costs. As an audio book producer, a number of my quotes have fallen by the wayside due to publishers not wanting to take the plunge. Although the upfront production cost can be relatively expensive, the cost is not dissimilar to having a large run of printed books produced and distributed.
Now, I could be completely wrong here, but, I feel that there is a knowledge gap that could be responsible for publishers losing revenue and missing out on a completely new demographic. Will the independent publishing industry be able to grow from a very traditional business model to incorporate a new digital one? Will the different marketing and delivery methods elude the majority of small book publishers, leaving money on the table to be collected by the likes of Audible (now an Amazon company)?
What do you think? Feel free to discuss 🙂