In recent years, audiobooks have been one of the fastest growing markets in the publishing world. With sales that rose 18.2 percent in 2016 according to Publisher’s Weekly—and are expected to post similar gains for 2017—more and more readers are choosing to take their books on-the-go.
With this in mind, Ooligan has decided that it is time to step into the audiobook world. This is an exciting time for Ooligan, as it means we have the opportunity to see just what goes into the creation of this popular format. And our most recent acquisition, a memoir by conscientious objector Rosa del Duca, seems the perfect place to begin when looking at audiobooks.
As a university press, the main challenge right now is finding a place where we can record professional-quality audio without having to pay a third-party company, like larger publishers can afford to do. Luckily for us, PSU is home to the Sonic Arts and Music Production program. Collaboration with this program might not only allow us to record our audiobooks here on campus, but as Stephanie Argy (head of Ooligan’s Digital Department) notes, “it would serve Ooligan’s educational mission” and fit “PSU’s philosophy of cross-disciplinary collaborations.”
Another question that Ooligan is currently grappling with is whose voice our audiobooks will feature. Although it may seem like a no-brainer to have the author of the book read the audiobook, this is actually not common practice. Most books make use of a professional reader—someone who is accustomed to projecting their voice in a manner that will be easy to understand when played-back. In addition, recording sessions for audiobooks take hours to complete. Between the sheer amount of time it takes to read an entire book aloud and do-overs when a mistake is made, the process is a longer one than most authors are prepared for. Memoirs, however, are one of the exceptions to the rule. It is more common for an author to read their own memoir so that readers can feel closer to them as they hear the author’s story.
This is another reason why Rosa’s memoir is a perfect selection to be one of Ooligan’s first audiobooks. It just so happens that Rosa has previous recording experience. Not only has she been featured on podcasts like The Lapse, but Rosa is the lead singer of her band Hunters. While neither of these are quite the same as recording an audiobook, it gives her and Ooligan a leg-up when learning how to do so.
One of the most exciting parts of working at Ooligan is getting the opportunity to actually be a part of bringing books to life. Though it is still in its beginning stages, our hope is that within a few years, most—if not all—of our books will be available for purchase in audiobook format. This means not only will our students get the exciting opportunity to see what goes into the making of an audiobook, but hopefully we will be able to share the stories we help publish with even more people.