Words-to-be-heard: A new stage of digital content evolution


Mike Shatzkin isn’t saying the sky is falling, but he does want to emphasize that the written word’s dominance is definitely waning.

Shatzkin, a thought leader about digital change in the book publishing industry, wrote a few months back about this phenomenon.

And then, a few weeks ago, The Associated Press wrote a trend piece on the rise of the audiobook and spoke to several high-earning authors about their production strategy:

One such author, John Scalzi, was moved to reconsider his publishing strategy when a recent book sold 22,500 hardcovers, 24,000 ebooks, and 41,000 audiobooks.

Author Mel Robbins responded to her self-help book The 5 Second Rule selling four times as many audios as print by making her next creation an audio original.

This marks a shift from the days when audio advocates had to push for their medium, says Shatzkin, and serves as a two-pronged warning.

One: The long trend of converting “words-to-be-read” into “words-to-be-heard” might be about to flip, requiring extra effort for those who don’t want audio content.

And two: “As powerful as Amazon is in the distribution of print and ebooks, Amazon’s Audible operation is ever so much more dominant for audio content," Shatzkin observes.

"If the ground shifts so that 'words-to-be-heard' frequently engages more consumers than 'words-to-be-read,' it simply adds to any content creator’s dependence on Amazon and increases the challenge for any other 'middle' player.”

Read his full post here.