June 14, 2005

Publishing industry strives to help readers perfect their tans . . .


Sales of audio books are “soaring” in Great Britain, and “the UK publishing industry is about to be hit by the same revolution that has overhauled the music world – the iPod-friendly download,” says Anthony Barnes in a report for The Independent. Growth has been especially explosive during holidays—last year’s summer sales increased 40 percent over the previous summer, and they’re up another 35 percent so far this year. What’s more, publishers and retailers are encouraged because it’s more than just “beach books” that are selling. Reports Barnes: “Listeners have embraced more challenging reads and classics that they had not managed in their usual reading schedules. Joyce‘s Ulysses was an audio top seller last year, as were Tolstoy‘s War and Peace, Daphne Du Maurier‘s Rebecca and Charlotte Bronté‘s Jane Eyre.” Joel Rickett of industry magazine The Bookseller, offers one explanation: “Many people going on holiday want something for the beach or the flight but they don’t want to have to cart it around all the time they are away.” Barnes suggests another: “For many audio converts it spells the end of that awkward search for the perfect balance between comfortable lounging position and maximum exposure to the sun. Now they can simply slip in their earphones and press “play” without worrying about white patches from book shadows.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.