Is the written word being replaced by sound?
I doubt that would ever happen on a grand scale, but it’s something to consider.
When the eBook came out people chattered about how the print book would be replaced. Those of us die-hards who love the smell of pages, and bound books refused to be lured into the glassy screens of eReaders. Just as we presumed, technology has been replaced by more technology, and there is evidence that the worshiped eBook is declining. What is fascinating about the trend today is that civilized man has reverted to what was once popular not so very long ago. Audio books.
According to Talking New Media, paperbacks, hardbacks and audio books have risen in sales, with audio books on the rise at 29.6 percent.
Trends for Trade by Format In the first three quarters of 2016 vs. 2015:
Paperback books grew 7.5% to $1.62 billion
Hardback books grew 4.1% $1.73 billion
Downloaded audio grew 29.6% to $199.2 million
eBooks were down 18.7% to $877.1 million
Recorded story-telling is nothing new. I remember when I was a youngster back in the 50s, Dad would take the family for a ride in our Buick, and we’d listen to Alfred Hitchcock’s mysteries, or Aliens, Martians and UFOS on the car radio. That was one of my favorite family events—driving through the neon lit city streets of L.A. while listening to dramatic radio presentations. No one said a word. The entire family was engrossed on the story, and we all looked forward to our Sunday drives. Dad would plan our trip just right so that by the time the program was over, we’d be pulling into our driveway.
Granted these were scripted shows with actors rather than a narrator. Still, listening, and visualizing the story as it was presented was entertaining and fun.
I’m currently in the process of publishing an audio book for my new release, a historical fantasy that takes place in Ireland. The fact that I was able to negotiate the production with a talented and professional voice-actor born in Ireland was indeed a bonus. The book will be released very soon.
Because an author can now skim through samples of narrator’s reels, pick and choose the right voice for their characters, the world of audio is at our fingertips. We’re able to negotiate payment, or royalty share, exclusive or non-exclusive rights. There are several budding distribution companies competing with Amazon for audio distribution. Their success is on the horizon and will add flame to the publishing industry.
According to Talking News Media, this growing trend is paving the way for more innovative technology. Start-up companies as well as long-established booksellers and libraries are coming up with new ways to get audio books to their audience. I believe that Indie authors ought to be taking this trend into consideration. I myself will probably be purchasing more audio books. With as much multi-tasking as we do these days, going for a walk or on a road trip while plugged into a good novel beats trying to find time to sit down and read.