In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway reports on Audible's expansion of its unlimited subscription model and more awards for ALLi.
In the brand new Self-publishing News podcast Howard and I discuss, among other things, a massive new investment into Inkitt, designed to bring successful titles on its self-publishing platform to the big screen. On tonight's #indieauthorchat at the usual 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK time, Tim will be leading a discussion about possibly the biggest question we face. Which is more important: creativity or “work”?.
Breaking: Biden Administration Seeks to Stop Bertelsmann Buying Simon & Schuster
The deal was reported to be worth $2.2bn. I reported at the time how small that is compared to other media. Even compared to academic publishing. Or the likes of Wattpad. But it seems like it's a big enough deal for the US Justice department to want to block it. Bertelsmann owns Penguin Random House, of course, and the deal would see the Big Five become the Big Four. But this still feels like an odd deal to target. Very much one to watch!
Audible's All You Can Eat Subscription Continues to Grow
This news item ties together several of the stories we’ve covered in recent weeks. There’s the growth of subscription, and in particular Audible’s slow move into the eat as much as you like service. There’s the growth of AI-generated narration. And then there are the ways in which going with Audible might not be the only move you might want to make.
Audible has just launched unlimited subscription in its 6th market, India. While Amazon’s commitment to India has been somewhat half-hearted over the years, it is a huge potential market. And this has some big implications. The Audiblegate campaign is still trying to gain full transparency over returns. And I have noticed many on the Facebook group talking about how difficult it is to calculate their anticipated revenue from the information provided. All you can eat subscription is not going to help this. Not only will you be drawing on a fixed pot rather than a fixed sum, the complexities of royalty splits and returns will sit on top of that. And of course, if royalties go down, you may find it harder to find narrators willing to work on a royalty split basis.
Audible and AI: a Problem
Which brings us to several news pieces about the growing use of AI in audiobook narration. Companies like DeepZen are now offering affordable and increasingly realistic digitally-generated narration. This will increasingly offer indie authors the chance to avoid potentially costly upfront costs and complicated contractual arrangements. But Audible does not accept digitally generated narration through the ACX platform indies use. Neither does Findaway Voices. This is surely going to be an increased pressure point as all-you-can-eat grows. If Audible and other audiobook publishing platforms really want to bring indies onboard, they will need to address it.
Nielsen's Report on Audiobooks
This brings us perfectly to a new Nielsen report on trends in the audiobook market. Some of these are not surprising. For example, the audiobook market in the UK has grown from 2% of the book market in 2013-14 to 6% in 2020-21. In practical terms this means a growth from 8 million to 24 million audiobooks. Other things are really interesting. For example, the main reason why people are put off audiobooks is dislike of the narrator's voice. And this has grown considerably in the past 5 years. As digital narration gets better and better, the possibilities for us to address that will grow.
Congratulations, ALLi Romantic Novelists' Association Indie Champion
Sometimes you seem to get on a roll. And ALLi – and our members – are on one of those rolls right now. Just a week ago I had the pleasure of announcing Rachel McLean had won the £20,000 Kindle Storyteller Award. This week it was the turn of ALLi itself to win a highly prestigious award. The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) handed ALLi the Indie Champion Award at its annual awards ceremony this week. There are some fabulous photos of Orna accepting the award floating around the internet! Congratulations, ALLi. It is wonderful to be part of this journey.
Access Denied: A New Report into Disability and Publishing
Diversity and Inclusion in publishing has been at the front of the news over the past few years. But disability has rarely been part of that conversation. A major new piece of research by Cat Mitchell has shone a spotlight on the book industry. It’s not a hugely flattering portrait. You can read the full report here, but the headlines are simple. Disabled people are underrepresented in the publishing industry. And the industry is not really tackling it. Barriers to entry and promotion remain high.
I would love to see an extension of this research into the indie community. Anecdotally, many of us who are disabled have chosen the indie route because it offers a way for us to manage our own circumstances. On the other hands, we deal directly with a lot of platforms and contractors many authors do not. And these are not always accessible. There is a really important piece of work to be done around making the platforms on which we rely work better for disabled indie writers.Audible's expansion of its unlimited subscription model threatens key problems for indies and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months. I highly recommend this great list of online writers' conferences from Nate Hoffelder, some of which are indie-inclusive.