Like streaming video platforms, Audible decided to add a catalog of more than 1,300 titles with unlimited access to its paid audiobook offering. Who is this offer for? How is free audio received in France? Bertrand Etienne, general manager of Audible France, answered questions from Futura.
Although it has been around for decades, the audiobook has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years, driven by smartphones and connected speakers that make listening easier. Founded in 1995 and owned by Amazon since 2008, Audible is a major player in this market on a global scale. In France, the catalog has 16,000 accessible titles through a monthly subscription for €9.95 entitles you to one book per month. Audible recently introduced an unlimited offer that comes with this subscription at no extra cost. Futura spoke to Bertrand Etienne, general manager of Audible France to discuss the details of this new formula that aims to win over a wider audience.
Futura: You mentioned a “growing French interest for audio content”. Can you describe this trend concretely?
Bertrand Etienne : We conducted a market study at OpinionWay that shows that in France, we have moved for audio books from a niche market to a leveraged market, with 27% of the French having listened to an audio book in the last twelve months . To give you an element of comparison, podcasts are at 55%. They have really returned to the behavior of the French. So we still have almost double the market to reach when it comes to audiobooks.
In the total book market in France, the audio book segment represents this year 2% in terms of revenues compared to 5% in Germany and 12% in Sweden. That means we are still late in the French market. We do a lot of pedagogy about the benefits of audio books. It is not all a question of pushing the competition towards the paper book because the two media are complementary, which many studies have shown. But the knowledge and understanding of the audio book must still develop at the level of the French market.
Is the use of an Audible offer strongly related to the device used for listening?
10% of listening is done on connected speakers, whether Amazon Alexa models or others. It is in strong development and is related to listening to many people. In fact, more than 30% of listening is done with family or with a partner. The trend of a shared experience, to relax and disconnect from screens, is marked.
What about account sharing? This is a phenomenon where video streaming platforms are looking to parade. Isn’t that a selling point for Audible? After all, a book is something to share.
This is a good point but it is not yet a priority. Today, the streaming VOD platform is in a saturated market while we are in an expanding market where we need to promote discovery. So, we encourage our members to offer audio books to their loved ones. Thanks to our free trial offer, this sharing happens naturally.
Regarding the unlimited offer, is this the entire Audible catalog available in French?
We have 16,000 titles in French and the unlimited offer covers more than 1,300 titles. We stick to a model with an offer of €9.95 per month that entitles you to one title in the catalog. The unlimited offer comes in addition to the basic offer, at no additional cost. It responds to a user’s request to listen to more or access shorter titles that does not justify using the credit of one book per month provided for the initial subscription. For publishers, this is a marketing lever that allows them to highlight a particular catalog.
How was the selection of this unlimited catalog made?
With the growing interest of listeners for audio content, we want to give our subscribers access to a wide variety of content. With more than 1,300 titles, all subscribers will find content that suits their listening preferences: great literary classics, bestsellers, personal development programs, content for children and more. can be found among the 1,300 titles available in this catalog. The programs that make up this catalog, whether audio books or podcasts, are made available to subscribers with the support of publishers to encourage listening to educational, cultural or entertainment content.
Audible also provides original creations conceived and designed for audio such as The philosophy with Raphael Enthoven, Passions by Nicolas Sarkozy Styx, guided meditations by Bernard Werber and many others. Particular emphasis is placed on the catalog aimed at young people to offer a variety of content available to children and families. We have selected these books considering the age category of parents and children who have very high expectations related to vocabulary learning and language development.
Explain to us the compensation model put in place for the beneficiaries of this unlimited offer
It is not funded by the listener as the subscription price has not changed. We do not have a contract with the rights holders but with their publishing houses that provide them with a salary. Financing is provided by Audible, which supports this additional offering. Publishers are in charge of compensation corresponding to the addition of this unlimited offer. We have a clear compensation model, proportional to sales numbers and listening time.
Is an offer possible that combines the purchase of a paper book with its electronic book or Audible version?
This is a very good marketing idea. We work with publishers on simultaneous launches, meaning having an audio version of a book released at the same time or as soon as possible after the paper edition. Publishers have evolved a lot in this process and continue to incorporate the multi-format dimension into their launch campaigns.
Tell us about Styx, the nine-episode audio thriller produced by Audible
Styx is our largest production in France. To give you an order of magnitude, we are currently investing around 12 million euros in the French market for all our production. Styx is a beachhead to show listeners the vast possibilities of audio storytelling. It is a performed work, a live performance, with advanced methods such as binaural technology that allows spatialized audio effects to be heard. It is a lever to rejuvenate the audience and attract a different audience.
Can you talk about future Audible Original projects for France?
Two experiments worked well and we intend to repeat them. The first is to appeal to recognized writers and actors whose aura is a powerful lever to publicize the audio book. I think especially of our achievements with Amélie Nothomb, Bernard Werber, Fred Testot, Mathieu Kassovitz, Vincent Elbaz. We will continue on this path. The second direction in which we want to move forward is the use of technologies that enrich the experience and make it more immersive. Finally, we will focus on more fiction, family and adventure literary works that are in high demand.