Recap: The Ever-Growing World of Audiobooks

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On February 7, 2018, a group of YPGers gathered at Penguin Random House in New York for a panel discussion called, “The Ever-Growing World of Audiobooks.” The discussion featured two audiobook experts, Anthony Goff and Dan Zitt. Goff is the Senior Vice President of Content Development and Audio at Hachette Book Group, and Zitt is the Vice President of Content Production at Random House.

Goff and Zitt opened the 90-minute panel discussion by providing a broad overview of the audiobook industry and how it has evolved from a largely unknown, misunderstood, and often shunned, niche market to a highly-respected, money-making industry. They explained that audiobooks are prevalent in nearly all genres, including memoirs, biographies, science fiction, young adult, mystery, fantasy, etc. Goff and Zitt shared their belief that books from almost all genres can be translated into an enjoyable listening experience, with few exceptions like heavily illustrated cookbooks and art books.

The panelists then gave a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the audiobook creation process by sharing entertaining stories of being in a recording studio with some of the most well-known writers, entertainers, and thinkers of our time. Whether it was Tracy Morgan abandoning the book text in favor of a stream of consciousness approach, or Johnny Depp recording on a remote island in the middle of the night, or Bill Clinton carefully reading from his autobiography, each person who stepped into the recording studio had the same goal in mind: to make the best audiobook possible.

The theme that was perhaps most prevalent throughout the discussion was that the audiobook industry is growing rapidly in terms of titles produced each year and revenue generated. The panelists believe that it is no coincidence that the growth of audiobooks coincides with the advancement of the digital age. Audiobooks are more easily accessible than ever before. They can be listened to on cell phones, tablets, laptops, and many other types of electronic devices. The wide range of listening options is appealing to people who enjoy audiobooks while driving, commuting, or doing another task. Audiobooks are often considered to be a more convenient alternative to finding the time to sit down and read a book.

According to Anthony Goff and Dan Zitt, it is an exciting time in the world of audiobooks as it is the fastest growing format in book publishing. Furthermore, there is still a large untapped market in the U.S. and abroad, comprised of people who have never listened to an audiobook. As Goff and Zitt explained about the relatively young history of audiobooks, it has been an unpredictable, adventurous, and wild ride. And for those who are unfamiliar with audiobooks, now might be the ideal time to get on board and see how they are reshaping and enhancing the storytelling experience.


Matthew Monteverde is a publishing professional and writer who specializes in children’s and young adult books. He is a Rutgers University graduate and lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

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