The big Canadian publishing story this fall is audiobooks. And Wednesday morning the story got bigger with the announcement that Audible is launching a dedicated Canadian service that will include original programs, lectures and comedy as well as more than 100 new titles from Canadian authors in English and French.
“Audible has earmarked $12 million (Canadian) over the next three years to invest in Canadian writers and voices,” said Audible founder and CEO Don Katz. Much of that will go to producing audio books from Canadian titles, using Canadian actors.
Available titles will include Justin Trudeau’s Common Ground, in both English and French, with an introduction narrated by the Prime Minister, and a multi-voice production of Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird graphic novel adapted for audio by Atwood.
Atwood spoke at the launch, providing, perhaps, a salve of sorts to those worried the printed word is under threat. “You know when television came they said radio’s finished, and then when tapes hit the scene they said vinyl records are finished. These things come back in other forms. So . . . think of Audible as a return of radio or as possibly the return of the voice, which never really went away.”
The audiobooks industry has been mushrooming — double-digit sales growth has been the norm since about 2013. The Audio Publishers Association estimates audiobook sales for 2016 at $2.1 billion, an increase of 18 per cent over 2015. This year’s sales are expected to be about $2.6 billion worldwide.
A Canadian Audible subscription…