Audible.com (an Amazon owned company) today announced the launch of ACX (ACX.com), a dynamic online audiobook rights marketplace, audiobook production platform and online sales system. The Audiobook Creation Exchange is a groundbreaking innovation that will allow any professionally published book, new or old, to become a professionally produced audiobook.
By directly connecting professional authors and other book rights holders with actors, studios, and publishers, ACX serves the tremendous demand for audiobooks created by the growth of the digital audiobook sector. ACX’s audiobook production platform allows authors and publishers access to the thousands of talented actors and studio professionals who bring books to life in audio. ACX enables online auditions and project management systems, and features programs to help authors learn how to narrate their own books. When an audiobook is created, ACX includes instant access to Audible.com’s digital distribution platform, and rewards authors and producers with a graduated royalty structure that can top out at 90%. ACX also provides sales acceleration tools that publishers, authors and narrators can use to earn special bonus royalties for sales they help generate.
“The brilliant performances of well-composed words that are packaged as audiobooks have emerged as a profound form of entertainment and a very fast-growing media category,” said Donald Katz, founder and CEO of Audible.com, which has developed the ACX.com marketplace website and underlying technologies. “But despite the efforts of many valued publishing partners, the creation of new audiobooks has not kept up with our progress. The Audible.com member base has experienced intensive and accelerating global growth, and our average member listens to close to 17 audiobooks per year. And yet the stunning fact is that close to 95% of new, professionally published books do not become audiobooks. Most authors and millions of avid listeners are disenfranchised from this important market. ACX was created to change this. Secondary rights to books are held in moral trust, and they are designed to be exploited instead of buried in file cabinets.”
Publishers and authors who own unused audiobook rights can post them on ACX, along with narration preferences (e.g., narrator’s gender, accents, voice types). Audio publishers and audio studios—as well as individual narrators with home studios—can search for titles that interest them and then audition to turn those rights into audiobooks. Rights holders can hire a narrator or producer, or create entrepreneurial partnerships with shared royalty structures that allow audiobooks to be produced without upfront costs. Alternatively, existing audio publishers can simply use ACX to discover audio rights to produce on their own.
Internationally best-selling author and screenwriter Neil Gaiman will use ACX to curate and produce his own line of handpicked titles, never before available in unabridged audio, to be called Neil Gaiman Presents and launching later in 2011. “When I first heard about ACX, I started to get excited,” said Gaiman. “I’ve loved narrating audiobooks—winning the Audiobook of the Year Audie Award for The Graveyard Book was one of my proudest moments—and am lucky in that almost all my books are now available in audiobook form. But I’m constantly astonished at how many great books, beloved books and books that have a special place in my heart are not and mostly never have been available as audiobooks. ACX seems a brilliant way to change that. In an ideal world, you should be able to listen to every book you love read by someone who’s perfect for it. Getting involved in ACX, and curating my own label within it, is my way of trying to help us get to that ideal world.”
About ACX, Chairman and CEO of Random House Markus Dohle said, “The leaders at Audible are great advocates for the audiobook consumer experience, and Random House is pleased to be a contributor to their newest initiative to broaden the list of available audio titles for everyone to enjoy.”
“For the many authors whose books haven’t been made in audio before, ACX marks not just a paradigm shift, but a major revenue and marketing opportunity,” said James Levine, Principal at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. “ACX gives authors and actors the chance to more directly nurture audiobooks, and gives authors control of the creative process. Authors are increasingly involved in promoting their work, and ACX offers strong financial incentives—and useful tools—to help them to do this even more.”
ACX is launching with over 1,000 titles, including works by multiple New York Times best-selling authors and by celebrated writers whose awards include the Pulitzer prize, the MacArthur Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Costa Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Nobel Prize. Participating rights holders include Random House, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., and Pearson Education; participating rights holders’ representatives include Janklow & Nesbit Associates, Writers House, and Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, Inc. ACX is seeking more titles from professional authors and book publishers.
The ACX stable of 100 professional audiobook narrators and audio producers includes three-time Audie Award winner Dick Hill, seven-time Audie nominee and recipient of 21 Earphones Awards Bill Dufris, noted producer-director and two-time Audie nominee Tavia Gilbert, and Audie winner Paul Boehmer, also known for appearances on Lost, House, and Nip/Tuck.
ACX has signed an agreement with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), enabling AFTRA audiobook professionals to work through the ACX platform. “We are pleased to have been involved in the early stages of development of ACX,” said Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, AFTRA’s National Executive Director. “ACX presents exciting possibilities for our members: it allows them to exercise control over their careers and empowers narrators to pursue specific books they want to bring to life.”
For further information, please contact Matthew Thornton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-820-0402.
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