Erik Larson Has A Scary Story He Wishes You To Hear
The growth of audio originals marks a shift in the way authors and publishers view the form, which was once viewed as an appendix to the print, rather than its own medium. But as audio sales continued to grow year after year, publishing houses found themselves scrambling to keep up with demand.
“Audio listeners are so voracious, they listen so much, we have to keep delivering content to them,” said Lance Fitzgerald, vice president of content and business development at Penguin Random House Audio.
Publishers have also started testing the standalone audio market. Penguin Random House, of which Crown is an imprint, has a dozen original audiobooks in development. The company’s recent audio-only works include “All Rise,” Nick Offerman’s comedy special; “Starting with the sourdough”, by Chad Robertson and Jennifer Latham of Tartine Bakery; stories set in the Star Wars universe; and a project with Steven Rinella, host of the Netflix series “MeatEater”.
Another major publisher, Hachette, has produced several successful audio originals, including works by singer and songwriter Billie Eilish and leadership coach Roger Flax. Macmillan has experimented with his own podcasts and is developing an audio original with indie pop duo Tegan and Sara.
But the audio-only approach poses challenges, and most writers and editors proceed with caution. Without a printed equivalent that is displayed in stores, it can be difficult to get such titles in front of consumers, unless the author has a large and loyal following.
“There is an advantage when there are several versions at the same time. You’re going to get more people to talk about it and to evangelize, ”said Mary Beth Roche, president and editor of Macmillan Audio. “In general, we feel like unless there is something uniquely sound about the experience, if it deserves to be audio, it deserves to be printed.”
For Larson, the audio format offered him a way to enter new territory. He said he was open to releasing “No One Goes Alone” as a book, although there are currently no plans for a print publication.
“For now, it’s like that,” he said. “I am very happy to call it a day with an audio original. “