Audio books

Host:  Cherilyn Parsons

Participants: Steve Piersanti; Susanne Pari; Cindy and Art (readers)


Cherilyn wished that publishers would allow audiobooks to be “counted” as a book sale within bundled author events — and same with e-books — because so many people are buying in these other forms instead of hardcover. It’s frustrating to be an event producer and not be able to officially include audiobooks where publishers want a sales count. Also, audio sales are the fastest-growing segment of the market!

She has brought this up at some industry panels focused on audiobooks but to no avail and doesn’t  know why. In general (not just around bundled events), working with book festivals could be huge for audiobook sellers because our demographic is exactly what they want.

Steve Piersanti said that a reason publishers might be reticent to count audiobooks within a bundled event is that they may not own the audiobook rights and/or, even if they seem to produce them (e.g., “Penguin Random House audiobooks present…”) are not part of distributing them. He said that Berrett-Koehler keeps all audio rights to its titles and creates audiobooks (using a variety of outside producers) for nearly all of them; about half do well, half not as well, but it balances out. He uses multiple audio distributors, more than anyone else in publishing as far as he knows.

Steve asked about a panel at the Bay Area Book Festival focused on audiobooks. Cherilyn loves the idea and has reached out to potential sponsors, such as and others, but no luck… and does feel that such a session should be sponsored since it’s industry-centric, not purely literary. But she thinks it’d be very popular. An idea would be to include an audiobook company leader, an author who’s also a narrator of her own book (Carolina de Robertis is phenomenal at this), perhaps another narrator or audiobook producer…?

Steve asked Cherilyn about the Bay Area Book Festival — what has made it successful, what draws people. Among the various responses she gave, we can highlight the fact of partnerships. SO many of the festival events are part of partnerships, for instance around creating a program, and that’s a win-win for all parties (partner gets recognition and participation, festival gets additional audience and promotion, sometimes both get funding, etc.). Cherilyn welcomes anyone with an idea or desire along these lines to get in touch! Partnerships are super creative, and almost all the time the festival and the interested party can make something work that’s meaningful to both.

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