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Hollywood big names expand their art through audiobook narrations

Actor Billy Crystal wins Audio Book of the Year for 2014
Actor Billy Crystal wins Audio Book of the Year for 2014Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Big names in Hollywood are lending their voices to audiobook readings, increasing public interests and boosting sales, Today reported.

During the recent Audie’s Award Gala, actor Billy Crystal won the Audio Book of the Year award for the comedy memoir Still Foolin’ ‘Em, an example of celebrity tapped to voice audiobooks. Several other celebrities who have lent their voices to audiobooks have won accolade from the award-giving body.

Aside from Billy Crystal there are several known celebrities narrating audiobooks, like Oprah Winfrey, Katy Perry, Kristen Bell, Johnny Depp, Nicole Kidman and many others. Although, audiobook narration fees are much less than they make in Hollywood, audiobook readings expand their art.

Lin Parkin, writer and editor for Voices.com and Voice Over Times was quoted as saying, “Celebrities bring with them a built-in audience. Having a big-name celebrity read an audiobook is likely to get more press coverage, which increases public interest and awareness of audiobooks.”

An Independent Publisher article said that the audiobook industry is now valued at $1.2 billion based on the Audio Publishers Association (APA) surveys. The APA’s 2012 Consumer Survey delved into the industry’s growth and audiobooks revenues.

“What these surveys confirm is that audiobooks continue to tap into consumers’ need for a convenient way to support their active lifestyles. Audio publishers pioneered the digital publishing movement and we continue to grow and produce more every year in this era, while continuing to support the formats long appreciated by the listening public,” Michele Cobb, APA President stated in the article.

The survey showed that in 2011, 46 percent of the respondents are audiobook listeners, an increase to the 37 percent from 2010. Sales of audiobooks in 2011 also grew by 13 percent from 2010.

Audible.com, an Amazon subsidiary is using celebrities for audiobook narrations. Their audiobook classic novels are read by celebrities like Anne Hathaway, Kate Wislet, Samuel Jackson and Susan Sarandon.

Audible Senior Editor Matthew Thornton, in a Publisher’s Weekly piece stated that more actors are showing interest in audiobook narrations as a way of honing their craft.
“It’s an opportunity to exercise different muscles as actors, and performing an audiobook also gives an actor a lot of creative control,” Thornton said.

One company that audiobook publishers can use to enhance its public appeal is Audioboo, an audio-sharing social media platform owned by London-based Audioboom Group PLC (BOOM.L).

The platform allows companies to widen their reach globally through mobile apps, embeddable players and Facebook and Twitter sharing and generate revenues from ads.

Audioboom has already formed partnership with several audiobook publishers such Harper Collins, one of the world’s largest publishing company.

Audioboo’s founder, Mark Rock said in Daily Telegraph interview in 2011 on the expansion of services to audiobooks, “We’ve [already been] working with a number of newspapers, radio stations and broadcasters. I feel like now is the time to expand and see how social audio can work alongside other publishing industries.”