its knowledge and perception must still improve, according to Bertrand Etienne, general manager of Audible France

Like streaming video platforms, Audible has decided to add a catalog of more than 1,300 titles with unlimited access to its paid audiobook offer. 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 many 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 via a monthly subscription at €9.95 which entitles you to one book per month. Audible recently introduced an unlimited offer that comes on top of this subscription at no extra cost. Futura was able to speak with Bertrand Etienne, general manager of Audible France to discuss the details of this new formula which aims to win over a wider audience.

Futura: You mention a “growing interest of the French for audio content”. Can you illustrate this trend concretely?

Bertrand Etienne : We carried out a market study with OpinionWay which reveals that in France, we have moved for the audio book from a niche market to a leverage market, with 27% of French people who have listened to an audio book in the last twelve month. To give you an element of comparison, podcasts are at 55%. They have really returned to the habits of the French. So we still have about double the market to reach when it comes to audiobooks.

On 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. Which means that we are still behind on the French market. We work a lot on pedagogy around the benefits of audio books. It is not at all a question of pushing competition towards the paper book since the two media are complementary, which many studies have shown. But the knowledge and perception of the audio book must still develop at the level of the French market.

Is the consumption of the Audible offer strongly correlated to the device used for listening?

10% of listening is done on connected speakers, whether Amazon Alexa models or others. It is in strong progression and correlated with listening to several people. Indeed, 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? It is a phenomenon against which the video streaming platforms seek the parade. Couldn’t that be 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, streaming VOD platforms are in a saturated market while we are in an expanding market where we need to promote discovery. Thus, 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 it the entire Audible catalog available in French?

We have 16,000 titles in French and the unlimited offer covers over 1,300 titles. We remain on a model with the offer at €9.95 per month which entitles you to a title in the catalog. The unlimited offer comes as an addition to the basic offer, at no extra cost. This responds to a user request to listen more or to be able to access shorter titles that do not justify using the credit of one book per month provided for in the initial subscription. For publishers, it is a marketing lever that allows them to highlight a specific catalog.

How is the choice of this unlimited catalog made?

With the growing interest of listeners for audio content, we wanted to give our subscribers access to a wide variety of content. With more than 1,300 titles, all subscribers can find content suited to their listening desires: great literary classics, bestsellers, personal development programs, content for children and many more. are to be found among the 1,300 titles available in this catalogue. The programs that make up this catalog, whether audio books or podcasts, are made available to subscribers with the support of publishers to encourage the listening of educational, cultural or entertainment content.

Audible also provides original creations thought and designed for audio such as The philosophy with Raphael Enthoven, Passions by Nicolas Sarkozy Styx, guided meditations by Bernard Werber and much more. Particular emphasis was placed on the catalog aimed at young people to offer a variety of content available to children and families. We have selected these books taking into account 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 since the subscription price has not changed. We do not have a contract with the rights holders but with their publishing houses which remunerate them. The financing is made by Audible, which supports this additional offer. It is the publishers who manage the remuneration corresponding to the addition of this unlimited offer. We have a clear compensation model, proportional to sales numbers and listening time.

Is an offer linking the purchase of a paper book with its electronic book or Audible version possible?

It’s a very good marketing idea. We work with publishers on a simultaneous launch, ie having the audio version of a book released at the same time or very soon after the paper edition. Publishers have evolved a lot in this process and are increasingly integrating the multi-format dimension into their launch campaigns.

Tell us about Styx, the nine-episode audio thriller produced by Audible

Styx is our biggest production in France. To give you an order of magnitude, we are currently investing around 12 million euros on the French market for all of our production. Styx is a beachhead to show listeners the expansive possibilities of audio storytelling. It is a work performed, a live performance, with advanced means such as binaural technology which 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 very 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 am thinking in particular 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 ever more immersive. Finally, we will focus on more literary works of fiction, family and adventure that are generating high demand.


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