Subsidiary Considerations: Audio Book Rights - article

Audio book rights are an area of subsidiary rights that I think will continue to grow. Audio books have had their ups and downs, but they are on a growth spurt at the moment, because content is king. We’re coming up with new ways to listen to books and to use books in conjunction with other kinds of media. It used to be that you could sell an abridged version and an unabridged version of an audio book, and you could sell it as a cassette or a CD. Now, of course, cassettes are more or less gone, and even CDs are fading away. Digital downloads are the way of the future, but people still want to listen to books. They want to listen in their cars on road trips or sitting in traffic. They want to listen on their iPods when they are working out at the gym. They want to listen with their children as they look at iPads or e-readers.

The money that people earn from audio rights may be smaller, because the market isn’t as concentrated as it used to be, but they will remain very important. Libraries will continue to play a big part. Authors need to pay particular attention to their audio rights and make sure, whether they’re self published or have an agent or publisher who handles these rights, that someone is cultivating the opportunity represented by audio rights. They’re an excellent way to get your book out there.

Audio book are going to continue to evolve. There are going to be different ways of experiencing audio books. But books aren’t going away, and things will come back. Fashion comes back. LPs have come back; don’t throw away your turntable yet. There are going to be lots of different ways to make money from audio content, and we don’t even know what a lot of them are yet.

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