Audiobook publishing needs to make up for shortcomings while taking off

- Jan 27, 2021-

Audiobook publishing needs to make up for shortcomings while taking off

Source: China Press, Publication, Radio and Telegraph

Nowadays, audiobooks are no longer unfamiliar to the majority of readers. Many readers flock to audiobooks and become listeners or users. According to recent media reports, Ha Yingfei, deputy dean of the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress and deputy dean of the School of Humanities of Guangzhou University, introduced at the two sessions of Guangdong Province that according to a survey of the current situation of online listening of college students in Guangzhou University City, nearly 60% of students said they have Have experience of listening to books (58%), of which more than half choose mobile audio APP for listening to books (52%).

University students are undoubtedly the main force in reading for all. When more than half of the university students like audio books, it is both a huge business opportunity and a huge challenge for the publishing industry.

A business opportunity, because audiobooks, a new reading carrier relying on the rise of the Internet, are developing at an unimaginable speed. According to the "2019-2020 Annual Report on China's Digital Publishing Industry" released not long ago, the sound economy is quietly rising around the world. Audio content such as audiobooks and podcasts has become an important growth point for the global publishing and media industry and has good development prospects. The 17th National Reading Survey Report released last year also showed that more than 30% of Chinese citizens have the habit of listening to books. As for the way of listening to books, 16.2% of people choose to listen to books through the mobile audio APP platform; 9.3% and 6% of people choose to listen to books through "WeChat Voice Push" and "Broadcast" respectively. It can be said that listening to books has become a new growth point in reading for all. According to a report released by iiMedia Data Center, the audiobook market in my country was 4.06 billion yuan in 2017, 4.63 billion yuan in 2018, and 8.21 billion yuan in 2020. It is expected to surpass the United States and become the world's largest audiobook by 2022. market. It can be seen that audiobooks are a booming and huge market for the publishing industry.

Faced with the market demand for audio books, many publishing organizations have deployed and published many high-quality audio books. In order to guide the healthy and orderly development of audiobooks, the National Press and Publication Administration began to organize and implement the audiobook boutique publishing project in 2018, which has been held for 3 sessions so far. Over the past three years, the project has selected 75 excellent audio books. Judging from the 55 items selected by the National Audiobook Publishing Project in 2020, the selected items are diverse and well-made. Undoubtedly, these high-quality audio books will play a good demonstration effect on the development trend of audio books in the whole industry.

However, as mentioned in the survey by the National People’s Congress at the beginning of this article, “the quality of audiobooks is uneven, including random changes to the classic original text; the source of the reading version is unclear; the original reading audio is less, and the explanation audio is more; the soundtrack is random. There are too many narrations. With limited audio resources, unscientific classification, inconvenient retrieval, and payment, more than half of the students indicated that they were unwilling to pay (56.48%).” It seems that the shortcomings faced by audiobook publishing are all new students. The dilemma faced in the initial development of things is also a business opportunity for audiobook publishing to take off.

At the 10th China Digital Publishing Expo held not long ago, Tong Zhilei, chairman and president of the Chinese Online Digital Publishing Group, said that the audio reading revolution will accelerate the industry upgrade. On China's mainstream audio platforms, the popularity of audio books is 66.3% Topped the list, and readers' pay rate is also higher than that of music and e-books. With such a large market demand, it is urgent for the publishing industry to get rid of the traditional concepts of the past and dig deeper into this new blue ocean of publishing, rather than simply publishing audiobooks.

At present, among traditional publishing organizations, the publishing process, talents, and channels are dominated by paper books, and few have set foot in this new publishing territory. Some audio books are relatively simple, and do not dig deeper into the book space according to the individual needs of readers and listeners. Many publishing organizations cooperate with third parties and do not have their own independent publishing platform.

The author believes that a high-quality audio book is by no means a pure voice of text, but a secondary development and tailoring of the original paper book text, because not all text is suitable for turning into sound. In addition, commentary, Music and sound effects need to be polished, carefully considered, and professionally presented. Publishing organizations should also fully consider which topics are more suitable for the second development of audiobooks in the early stage of the topic selection operation. From the publishing contract with the author to the preliminary negotiation with the cooperative unit, they should plan ahead and plan ahead.

It is foreseeable that there is a lot of room for the development of high-quality audiobooks, which not only enriches our publication varieties, perfects the publishing format, increases the profitability of publishing, but also awakens readers' enthusiasm for reading to the greatest extent. Because high-quality audio books will in turn arouse readers' interest in reading paper books. In this sense, audiobooks are undoubtedly an accelerator for reading by all people! 

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