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A Change is Coming!
When I sat down to write this blog post, I considered starting it off with some type of cliché like “All Good Things…” or “Change is the Only Constant” or some other drivel like that. I’m not big on clichés, though, so instead, I opted for the straightforward approach.
Open Book Audio is changing the way we do business.
Over the last four and a half years of operations, OBA has gone through several iterations as we’ve learned more about the audiobook market, and as we’ve watched it evolve. The time has come, once again for us to adjust our course.
So, what does all this pontification mean? Beginning June 7th, 2013, Open Book Audio will no longer accept unsolicited requests for audiobook distribution or production. This means that we will no longer be serving as an audiobook aggregator and distributor for independent authors and publishers not already in the Open Book Audio catalog. This also means that we will no longer be producing audiobooks for people or entities other than Open Book Audio. At least not for now.
I can hear the confusion: “Uh…isn’t that what you guys do?”
Yes. For the last four and a half years, production and distribution of third party audiobooks has been a major component of our operations. The success and demand for our distribution services, in particular, took us by surprise. We were unprepared for the pent-up demand, and we have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful people on some truly spectacular titles.
But as successful as our distribution and production services have been, the amount of work we have put into helping others sell their books has not offered a high enough return to support our business. Between high (occasionally exorbitant) retailer fees, a lack of transparency in pricing, and very little competition in the audiobook marketplace, Open Book Audio’s distribution services simply do not generate enough money to pay for themselves. And rather than boost our fees from 30% to 50-60% in order to recover costs (let alone expand the business), we have taken a look at trends in the marketplace and realized that distribution and third party production are simply not growth areas for a healthy business.
The other, and perhaps even more important, part of why we’re changing the business is that Matt and I are a worn out. Aside from spending the last four and a half years pouring our hearts and souls (not to mention countless hours and a whole lot of money) into Open Book Audio, we both work full-time jobs. Open Book Audio has been a second job for both of us. It’s not uncommon to find Matt and I on the phone into the wee hours of the morning discussing production schedules, new contracts, or financial decisions. We have worked very hard, slept very little, and have dedicated our lives to building something special. And while we’re proud of what we’ve built, we both feel that it is important to reconnect with children, spouses, family, friends, loved ones, and even pets who have been set aside while we have grown our business.
Open Book Audio will still be around—just in a different form. The success of OBA has afforded us the ability to pick those projects about which we feel passionate—those that we can do the way we feel is best. We plan on releasing 5-6 new audiobooks titles each year in which we can heavily invest, rather than maintaining the exhausting pace of 70-80 title releases a year. Simply put, we want to get back into the recording studio to put our own unique stamp on audiobook projects about which we care deeply. And so, effective June 7, that’s what we’ll be doing.
At the end of the day, Matt and I are actors. We love the performance aspect of recording audiobooks and bringing characters to life. It’s what excites us and gets us out of bed in the morning. This is why, after much number-crunching, hand-wringing, and soul-searching, we have decided to make this change of directions and to focus our energies on building a more sustainable and energetic Open Book Audio.
As for our current authors, we’ll still be servicing their titles so you’ll still be able to get your favorite OBA titles anywhere audiobooks are sold. And for those authors already in the OBA stable, we’ll be adding their newest audiobook titles to our catalog as they are released. But for new authors or publishers, Open Book Audio will no longer be accepting unsolicited titles or requests for production.
We know that this news will make some people sad or frustrated. The audiobook market is still quite unsettled, and not every author has an easy way of making his or her audiobook available everywhere. We get it. While it may not be much of a comfort, please know that this was not a decision we made lightly. (In fact, there was more than a little agonizing going on.). However, we feel that this change of direction is for the best. It will allow Open Book Audio to focus on fewer, higher-quality titles, as well as marketing the titles already in our catalog.
To all who helped make OBA a success, thank you. Matt and I are truly grateful for your support, love and kindness. We wish all of you the best and hope that whatever you wonderful endeavors you undertake in life, you’re lucky enough to be able to find success and good fortune.
Andrew Parker, President
Open Book Audio