Turning Pages into Playlists: Best Practices for Audiobook Adaptation

March 7, 2024
Ingram Associate
Turning Pages into Playlists: Best Practices for Audiobook Adaptation

Audiobooks are growing in popularity, and the publishing industry is adjusting in response to the strength of that growth. Part of that adjustment is the need to implement effective strategies that can maximize audiobook success. Many readers turn to audiobooks when they're engaging in another task such as driving, exercising, or even cleaning the house. Additionally, people who can't see well enough to read comfortably often choose audiobooks for entertainment or learning.

Because the demand for audiobooks is on the rise, publishers need to carefully consider the kinds of strategies they're using to adapt books to an audio format and produce a quality finished product. To do that they need a good understanding of the audiobook landscape and best practices for a result that readers and listeners are interested in. Here are just a few things to consider.

An Overview of the Audiobook Landscape

To fully comprehend the audiobook market it's vital to look at current trends and statistics. For example, 2023 brought a 10% overall revenue increase when compared to 2022, which is a significant year-over-year gain. Many other types of markets don't grow that quickly, which shows the strength of the interest in the audiobook market. That growth translated to $1.8 billion in sales for 2023.

Publishers looking to grow their audiobook divisions will want to start by analyzing audiobook consumption patterns and preferences among their current reader bases. Beyond that, though, the goal is to locate others who may not have discovered audiobooks yet and help them see the value that's offered. By doing that, a publisher can grow their business and bring more people into the world of information and interest that can be found by listening to audiobooks.

Best Practices for Production

To produce great audiobooks, there are a couple of big areas to consider. These involve choosing the right narrator and adhering to high audio standards. Listeners don't want a poor-quality sound experience, and they certainly don't want to listen to someone who doesn't have a good voice and style for narration.

To choose the right narrator, publishers should carefully consider not just the style and tone of any potential narrators, but whether their voice fits the type of book. A children's audiobook likely needs a different narrator from a murder mystery or a non-fiction book. It's important to have several narrators that are typically used for audiobooks if your company is publishing a lot of them. Additionally, continuing to audition new narrators can bring fresh voices and tones to your library of content.

Audio quality standards matter just as much as narration, and these standards include recording, editing, and mastering that meets or exceeds industry requirements. Not only does that enhance listener satisfaction, but it also helps ensure that publishers continue to improve audiobook experiences as the interest in them grows. If your publishing house isn't prepared with the level of quality required for audiobook content, making changes should be a priority.

Addressing Adaptations & Innovations

Adapting print books to audiobooks takes time and effort. There's more to the process than hiring someone with a good voice to read the print book into the microphone. If there are pictures in the book, diagrams that increase understanding, or other information that helps to convey the book's message, it's important to note that those can't be seen by the listener. However, they still need to be incorporated into the narrative to ensure a comprehensive listening experience.

Additionally, your publishing house should choose audiobook narrators who understand how to handle immersive audio, interactive storytelling, and enhanced production techniques. For fiction books, the goal is to fully tell the story in a way that makes the reader feel like they're part of the action. Love At First Psych, for example, is just one of Audible Originals that features a full cast of audio actors as well as immersive audio tracks to put the reader right into the scene.

The immersive nature of newer audiobooks helps to make listening to someone read the book and tell the story a more exciting and valuable experience, but fiction isn't the only place where that level of care and attention matters. Non-fiction books also need to provide all the detail and explanation a reader of the book would get, to ensure full accessibility to the knowledge that book contains.

That's especially true for audio versions of textbooks and other reading materials that may be used by people with low vision who are pursuing an education. Complete and thorough are key words to remember when providing any kind of audiobook experience. Many people use audiobooks when they can't read the print book, either at that time or at all, and they deserve to have just as full of an experience as a reader would expect.

Important Features for Accessibility

Accessibility is a big part of the value of audiobooks. While they're very convenient for people who want to listen while they do something else, they're also needed for those with low vision or other reading difficulties. Because of that, your publishing house should be sure it's complying with accessibility standards.

To do that, and to make the experience a better one, implement features including text to speech, adjustable playback speeds, and enhanced navigation options, to provide listeners with choices and the ability to make adjustments that fit their needs.

Audiobooks Give Readers More Options

The best thing about audiobooks is that they give readers options. Whether they're needed due to low vision issues or used for convenience or other reasons, the goal is to provide a quality, immersive, and comprehensive experience for the listener.

By ensuring that your publishing house is following best practices for creation and adaptation, and including accessibility features that give listeners options, you can provide anyone who picks up your audiobooks with a great experience. From choosing the right narrator to improving opportunities for navigation, the development of quality content with high production values can help you stay competitive in the growing world of audiobooks.

Turning Pages into Playlists: Best Practices for Audiobook Adaptation
Ingram Associate

Ingram Associate

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