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APAFAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Audiobook Consumers & Audiobook Publishing

Glossary of Key Terms Concerning Audiobooks

APA Membership Questions

Narrator FAQs

Merchandising Best Practices and FAQs

Librarian Frequently Asked Questions

Consumer Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions About Audiobook Consumers & Audiobook Publishing

Who are the primary customers for Audiobooks? The audiobook customer is a frequent book reader who sees audiobooks as a way to "read" more while pursuing other lifestyle activities. They are well educated, have higher incomes than non-listeners, tend to be older (30+) and are attuned to book trends through reviews and bestseller lists. Children's audiobooks are also a formidable part of the market, as many families choose them for in-car entertainment or an at-home hobby, as well as many teachers and schools using them for educational tools.

When and where do they use them? The primary usage is while traveling and commuting. Other uses revolve around lifestyle activities such as exercising, relaxing, cooking, cleaning, gardening, crafting, walking the dog, etc. People whose jobs involve repetitive manual tasks also report using audiobooks at work.

How are narrators chosen? Sometimes it is the author who is considered the best choice to read his/her own work, predominantly in nonfiction. When an outside narrator is called for, audiobook publishers look for professional narrators or actors and actresses that have voice and dramatic training, are able to use dialects and accents, can respond to direction, have the stamina that being in a closed studio for many hours requires, and ultimately deliver the feeling behind the author's intent of the book or project. Frequently, the author approves the choice of narrator. The role of the narrator is 'cast' as it would be for many other forms of drama, only in most audiobooks, the performer usually plays all of the parts (although there are also many programs performed by multiple narrators or a full cast).

Why do audiobook publishers offer multiple formats of the same title? Consumers demand choices. Differing consumer preferences for abridged and unabridged and the variety of devices consumers are using to listen to audiobooks make multiple formats a necessity.

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Glossary of Key Terms Concerning Audiobooks

Abridged Audiobook--A professional abridger "edits" the work from the original text to encompass the essence of the story while maintaining characterizations, plotlines and style. Most abridgements are done with author approval. Just as many book-based movies do justice to the book while not including every single scene, so an abridgement strives for the same goal of staying true to the spirit and content of the book.

Audio Original/Audio Only/Spoken Word--Audiobook products derived from sources other than book content. These programs include dramatic readings, stand-up comedy, seminars, conversations, etc. that have no book counterpart.

Cassette--Cassettes consist of two miniature spools, between which a magnetically coated plastic tape is passed and wound. These spools and their attendant parts are held inside a protective plastic shell. Cassettes remained popular for specific applications, such as car audio, well into the 1990s, but now represent only a small part of the market. A single cassette can hold more than 100 minutes of programming.

CD--A Compact Disc (also known as a CD) is an optical disc used to store digital data. Audio CDs have been commercially available since October 1982 and remain the most popular format for audiobooks.  Red Book specifications indicate that a single disc can hold up to 74 minutes of digital audio material.

CD ROM Disk or Mini-disk--These are sometimes included in audiobook packages to carry video and text if necessary or desired as added value.

Digital Download/Audio Download--Audiobook content can be transmitted digitally in different compressions to compatible players or listened to directly from the computer.

MP3CD--An audiobook format for which an MP3 player is required, only some CD/DVD players can currently read this format. MP3CDs can hold a large amount of audio material on a single CD.

Packaging--Audiobooks can come in trays, slides, jewel cases, sleeves, wallets and spined plastique books. Most audiobooks are shrink-wrapped and some have a mylar-seal. Outside boxes can be many different sizes due to the number of units inside and package design.

Unabridged Audiobook--The complete, unaltered work.

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APA Membership Questions

Q: What are the benefits of joining APA?

A: To view a list of APA membership benefits, please click here.

Q: How do I join APA?

A: To join APA, please download the APA membership application. All membership applications are subject to board approval. The APA board meets monthly to review membership applications.

Q: What are the different APA membership categories?

A: Please click here to see a list of the APA membership categories.

Q: Who are the members of the APA Board of Directors?

A: The APA board of directors is comprised of 13 professionals in the audio publishing industry. The board sets policy for the APA and its members. Board elections take place annually, in the month of May. To view the full board list, please click here.

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Narrators

Q: How do I become an audiobook narrator?

A: The industry is very competitive. There is no shortage of narrators. Getting a job in the industry is just like applying for any other job. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Have a professional sample/demo (this would be like your resume) that showcases your ability to do male/female voices, different emotions/settings, and different accents/dialects and languages if applicable. The key is to set yourself apart from the thousands of others trying to get in. You won’t get in just because you have a “nice” voice.
  • Send demo to companies you would like to work for – find out who does the hiring of narrators and direct cover letter/correspondence to that person.
  • Networking helps – go to industry events (i.e., Audio Publishers Association Conference, Audies Gala, American Library Association’s conferences, Publishers Marketing Association’s conference, Book Expo America, Book London Fair) and get to know (not solicit) the professionals involved in the industry.

Publishers like to work with people who have experience, usually in acting or voice over work. If you don’t have it, take classes at local colleges or universities or volunteer for community theater groups.

Q: How much is the average royalty and/or fee for narrators?

A: This is very specific to the individual narrator’s experience and visibility within the audiobook industry and popular culture. You can contact the The Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) or the Actors' Equity Association for more information on representation and literary agents as well as industry payment standards.

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Audio Publishing Industry Statistics

Q: Where can I get information on audiobooks statistics (i.e., how big is the market, what are the most popular genres, who listens to audiobooks, etc.)?

A: APA conducts an annual sales survey and in September 2006, released its inaugural consumer survey. To access the most recent statistics on sales and consumer demographics, please click here.

Q: How do I learn more about the history of the audio publishing industry?

APA has a variety of resources available to help you learn more about the industry.
The History of the Audiobook Industry
Sales Survey
Consumer Survey

Q: How do I get a replacement for a lost or broken CD/cassette?

A: Please contact the respective publisher directly. Some helpful customer service contact information is as follows:

Macmillan: (888) 330-8477 press 2, then 1 to speak to a representative
Penguin Audio: (800) 788-6262
Random House: (800) 733-3000; customerservice@randomhouse.com
Simon and Schuster: (856) 824-2065

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Getting Started in Audio Publishing

Q: How do I get my book published in audio?

A: Getting a book published in audio is just as difficult, if not more difficult, as getting a book published in print. Keep in mind that not all books would make good or entertaining audiobooks. Publishers base their decision on the potential market value of the book, i.e., will people buy it. Publishers prefer to release the audio version of a book in conjunction with the release of the print copy of the book. It is best to use an agent to facilitate this endeavor. Publishers prefer to work with agents, especially those they know, rather than directly with the author.

Q: How much should I sell my self-published audiobook? Is there an industry average?

A: At this time, APA does not collect information about the average price of an audiobook. There are many factors that determine the cost of an audiobook including production costs, royalties, packaging, etc.

Q: Are there copyright issues with recording someone reading a book onto an audiotape?

A: Publishers hold the copyright to the content of each audiobook and audiobooks may not be reproduced (just like printed books) as it is considered copyright infringement.

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Media

Q: Where can I find recent articles on APA and the audio publishing industry?

A: The APA press room and media coverage web page features news articles about APA and the industry. The press room and media coverage pages provide links to press releases and recent coverage organized by date.

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Events

Q: Does APA host any special events?

A: APA hosts two events to educate and celebrate the audio publishing industry. The Audio Publishing Association Conference (APAC) is the premiere educational event for audio publishing professionals. APAC gives attendees the opportunity share ideas and gather solutions from fellow colleagues, as well as learn from experts on topics and issues pertinent to the industry. It is held in conjunction with BookExpo America (BEA). Click here for more information.

Additionally, since 1996, APA has hosted the The Audies® gala celebration honoring excellence in audiobook publishing. The Audies gala brings together industry, entertainment, and political dignitaries to celebrate excellence in audio publishing including the Audiobook of the Year category. Click here to view last year's winners.

The Audies is the only awards program in the United States entirely devoted to recognizing distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment. This year, more than 800 entries were submitted for consideration for these prestigious awards. Please visit the Audies Gala web page for more details.

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Merchandising Best Practices and FAQs

Source: Audio Publishers Association Board, 4/04

Best Practices of Audiobook Merchandising -- Since the best audiobook customers are also the best book customers, the merchandising strategies that are most successful with books will also work for audiobooks including:

  • Creating an audiobook bestseller area and ensuring in-section including face-outs in all categories - the covers look great, show them off!
  • Cross-promotion of audiobooks with the other book formats (hardcover, trade paper and mass market)
  • Including audiobooks on "staff recommends" or "staff picks" shelves
  • Discounting bestsellers or key titles
  • Featuring audiobooks when making special themed-displays or tables or even in windows or at front of store
  • Featuring audiobook at author signings or events
  • Good old fashioned hand selling - if you love an author or narrator, pass it on!
  • Don't forget to contact the publishers. Many publishers offer staff listening programs to retailers.

Librarian Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Find answers to your frequently asked questions about industry terms and technical definitions.

What are the various formats through which audiobooks are distributed?

  • Cassette--Cassettes consist of two miniature spools, between which a magnetically coated plastic tape is passed and wound. These spools and their attendant parts are held inside a protective plastic shell. Cassettes remained popular for specific applications, such as car audio, well into the 1990s, but now represent only a small part of the market. A single cassette can hold more than 100 minutes of programming.

  • CD--A Compact Disc (also known as a CD) is an optical disc used to store digital data. Audio CDs have been commercially available since October 1982 and remain the most popular format for audiobooks.  Red Book specifications indicate that a single disc can hold up to 74 minutes of digital audio material.

  • CD ROM Disk or Mini-disk--These are sometimes included in audiobook packages to carry video and text if necessary or desired as added value.

  • Digital Download/Audio Download--Audiobook content can be transmitted digitally in different compressions to compatible players or listened to directly from the computer.

  • MP3CD--An audiobook format for which an MP3 player is required, only some CD/DVD players can currently read this format. MP3CDs can hold a large amount of audio material on a single CD.

How are audiobooks packaged for libraries?

  • Library Packaging – Audiobooks packaged for library use are sturdier than retail packaging. They are not shrink-wrapped, have more standard album sizes and are easier to shelf spine out than traditional retail packaging.
  • Trade Packaging – Audiobooks can come in trays, slides, jewel cases, sleeves, wallets and spined plastique books. Most audiobooks are shrink-wrapped and some have a Mylar-seal. Outside boxes can be many different sizes due to the number of units inside and package design.

How are narrators chosen?

  • How are narrators chosen? Sometimes it is the author who is considered the best choice to read his/her own work, predominantly in nonfiction. When an outside narrator is called for, audiobook publishers look for professional narrators or actors and actresses that have voice and dramatic training, are able to use dialects and accents, can respond to direction, have the stamina that being in a closed studio for many hours requires, and ultimately deliver the feeling behind the author's intent of the book or project. Frequently, the author approves the choice of narrator. The role of the narrator is 'cast' as it would be for many other forms of drama, only in most audiobooks, the performer usually plays all of the parts (although there are also many programs performed by multiple narrators or a full cast).

What are the different types of audiobooks?

  • Abridged Audiobook--A professional abridger "edits" the work from the original text to encompass the essence of the story while maintaining characterizations, plotlines and style. Most abridgements are done with author approval. Just as many book-based movies do justice to the book while not including every single scene, so an abridgement strives for the same goal of staying true to the spirit and content of the book.
  • Audio Original/Audio Only/Spoken Word--Audiobook products derived from sources other than book content. These programs include dramatic readings, stand-up comedy, seminars, conversations, etc. that have no book counterpart.
  • Dramatization – Adaptation of a work such as a book, usually multi-voiced and including sound effects and music.
  • Unabridged Audiobook--The complete, unaltered work.

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Consumer Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get definitions of common audiobook terms & lingo? For a list of common terms used in the audiobook publishing industry, click here.

Where can I find audiobooks? Audiobooks are available for purchase wherever books are sold. For a list of members who sell audiobooks, click here for a list of APA member companies. In addition, your local public library is an excellent source for audiobooks in a variety of formats.

How do I get a replacement? Requests for replacement audiobooks should be directed to the publisher of the audiobook. Most publishers have customer service policies regarding these requests, although they vary from publisher to publisher. The name of the publisher is usually located on the outside packaging of the audiobook. Contact information for various publishers is available in the APA member companies list.

 

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