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Self-publishing News: Captions Contest

Self-publishing News: Captions Contest

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway

In this week's Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway fills us in on the latest with Audible's controversial new captions feature, and a new royalty payment model from Storytel. 

This week my thoughts have been on the glorious ways in which our words can take life alongside and in other media. First, there was the release of the new trailer for His Dark Materials which, simply put, is one of the most exciting things ever. Then there was the news that graphic novel legend Alan Moore is hanging up his pen. Responsible for Watchmen among many others, there are fewer finer reminders than Moore's work just how remarkably versatile and exciting our storytelling world can be.

Audible Captions

This is one of those weeks when all hell broke loose out of nowhere. The cause of the furore was a new feature from Audible to allow listeners to follow audiobooks with on-screen captions. The captions feature, glimpsed in the video here, remains pre-beta. And Audible have expressed that they are willing to talk to content producers to get the final feature right. But that hasn’t stopped the community kicking off at the prospect of captions.

The move was drive, say Audible, by academic needs. Learning is more effective when students are able to follow audio when they need to. But publishers and writers feared that the captions feature was, in essence, a copyright grab. Simon & Schuster confirmed they would not be making the facility possible on their books. Interestingly, Passive Guy, a copyright lawyer by day job, felt their worries were unwarranted.

I’ll not comment on the rights and wrongs as I see them, but it is interesting that I also came across this article on Sunday about the importance of captions for all TV and film content, which seems to have the broad backing of content producers, many of whom are, presumably, also selling scripts and/or novelisations. I'll also add that Overdrive's Libby has joined with CarPlay to make library-based audiobooks available to drivers. This has also not gone down well with publishers who recently sought to limit the terms on which libraries license books. The audiobook market may be outstripping the degree of thought publishers have given it!

US Audio sales nearly reach $1bn

We know audio is growing fast. Double digit growth every year shows no sign of slowing down. But it’s easy to think of that as being large growth of a small part of the sector. New figures show just how large the audiobook sector is. US sales have now reached $980million a year!

Subscription Reading: Storytel and Wattpad

We talk about Storytel a lot. They are one of the companies outside the Amazon umbrella who have been making the audiobook subscription model work. Now they have announced a major change to the way royalties are calculated. Rather than a flat rate of around $2 per book, they are moving to a per-hour model. This will see royalties of around $0.20 per hour of (regular speed) listening. As with Kindle Unlimited, this will affect those who write longer, and shorter, books.

There is another big announcement in the subscription world. Wattpad have just made Wattpad Premium and Wattpad Paid Stories available to everyone. Premium is an ad-free subscription (on the Spotify model) while Paid Stories gives access to exclusive content.

Will new Copyright legislation in the US help writers?

We feature this story from time to time as it passes through the stages of becoming law. Now the Senate Judiciary Committee has passed legislation to enable rights owners to pursue copyright cases in the small claims courts. This sounds like a simple win. It’s interesting then to read takes by both the Authors’ Alliance and Passive Guy saying it’s not that straightforward. Both point to the potential for wilful abuse. Doubtless #cockygate is still fresh in people’s minds.


Audible's new captions feature causes controversy, Wattpad's subscriptions go global & other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet

Over to You

What are your feelings about Audible's new captions feature? Will it make audiobooks more accessible, or are Amazon trying to take something you have given them permission to, without paying you? Let us know in the comments below.

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Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Allowing people of all hearing levels to utilize captions in any given environment can only be a positive all around, and that has got to be a plus as far as sales.

    Also, what many people don’t realize is that people who go through audio rehabilitation after cochlear implant surgery use books on tape to help stimulate the brain/ear connection and decipher what speech sounds like either for the first time or again after going deaf. These captions could be used as a helpful tool in the early stages to help fill in the blanks when certain words seem inaudible.

    This may seem a bit off topic, but these situations provide an opportunity for companies such as audible to market their product to the medical device manufacturers as an introductory tool. I am deaf with two cochlear implants, so I guess my perspective is unique and not the norm.

    It seems like a win in situation for authors and Audible.

  2. Captions on audio content makes it accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. This will increase sales. It’s entirely positive.

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