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Frequently Asked Questions
About Open Book Audio (5)
Open Book Audio is an audiobook production and digital distribution company founded in 2009 by long-time friends Matt Armstrong and Andrew Parker. We work with independent authors and smaller publishers to make their audio titles available to the world.
We specialize in recording and selling audiobooks for independent authors, narrators, and small publishing houses who want to create and sell audiobooks but who may not have a large enough catalog to be listed in the major digital audiobook retailers. Open Book Audio acts as an aggregator, using our ever-increasing catalog to get you and your title access to retail locations that may be closed to you otherwise. If you record with us, we handle the voice casting, direction, and production of your title, and provide the final product to you in whatever format you want. We also handle all the formatting, mastering, and submission of your titles to our many different retail partners, taking care of the sometimes onerous task of ensuring that your title meets the retailers’ different (and stringent) demands.
Open Book Audio was created in 2009 by Matt Armstrong and Andrew Parker—two friends who met in the summer of 1997 during their college years and found that they had a lot in common. Both Matt and Andrew had a deep love of performing (particularly music and theater) and spent the next several years gathering a handful of degrees between them, including degrees in Music, Theater, Audio Engineering, Dance, and Entertainment Marketing. After college, they went their separate ways, and each independently decided to change course and get MBAs.
Open Book Audio's founders have a whole lot of experience between them, both as performers and businessmen. They have worked with and for companies like Microsoft, The Walt Disney Company, Paramount, CBS, Target, Dell Computers, Apple Computers, Novell, The Wyndham Group, Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor and many others. Between them, they have done film, television, movies, commercials, radio, podcasts, concerts, and produced/recorded several albums. They play several instruments, sing (one of them even sang in the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir), write, and arrange music.
Open Book Audio is a privately held Limited Liability Corporation, and does not currently have any outside investors. While we have not (and have no plans) to actively pursue outside funding, we are always open to meeting with potential investors who are as passionate about good storytelling and good business as we are. If you are interested in investing in Open Book Audio, please contact us via the contact form.
Audiobook Distribution (11)
There are several reasons why you should consider having Open Book Audio distribute your title instead of going through other retailers.
Reach: Open Book Audio distributes to a wide variety of retailers, including major retailers like Audible, iTunes, Overdrive (who services over 22,000 public and educational libraries), Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Audiobooks.com, Simply Audiobooks, and many, many more. We are also keep on top of the trends in the audiobook industry, and are constantly working to increase the retail channels for the titles in our catalog. By distributing your title with Open Book Audio, you'll get it in front of the widest possible audience.
Flexibility: Some retailers and distributors have clauses in their contract which will lock the rights to your title up for a long time. (In some cases, as long as seven years!) The audiobook industry is changing rapidly, and we don't believe in locking up the rights to your title for that long. That's why, with our agreement, you're able to pull your title down at any time (assuming you give us 90 days written notice.) It's your title, and if you're not happy with the services we provide, then we don't want to keep in our catalog against your will.
Visibility: When you list your title with Open Book Audio, we'll set up a search engine optimized listing page for your audiobook that includes a sample, the cover art, the book description, and links to all the major retailers where your audiobook is sold. Your title may be featured on our bi-monthly Open Book Audio Podcast, where we feature a long-form sample of titles in our catalog. And you'll be able to reap the benefits of being part of a large (and constantly-growing) catalog of top notch, independently produced audiobooks.
Low Cost: Listing your title with Open Book Audio is a low-cost endeavor. We don't charge any up-front fees for listing your title. Instead, we take a percentage of the sales of your title (after the retailers take their cut.) That way, if you don't make any money, neither do we. And because our distribution percentage is one of the lowest in the audiobook industry, you will get to keep more of each audiobook sold that you would with other distributors.
Ease: Getting your title listed in all the audiobook retailers can be a major hassle. Many won't work with you at all unless you've got a large catalog of titles. Those who will have complicated systems with arcane rules and very specific requirements for audio files and artwork. Figuring out how to price your titles can be very tricky. And then managing the reporting from each retailer, ensuring you're getting the money that's due to you, can be a real pain. By distributing with Open Book Audio, you don't need to worry about any of that. We will take care of listing your titles, processing the files to the correct format, and consolidating the reporting, and sending out payments. Our self-service publisher dashboard lets you know exactly how many copies of your title have sold in each retailer. All of the fees are clearly laid out. Aside from any promotion you undertake, distributing with Open Book Audio means that all the hassle is taken care of for you.
Yes. Open Book Audio has an in-house digital distribution system. We will take care of formatting your books, submitting them to our retailers, and managing the royalty and payment information.
No, we won’t. First and foremost, we are interested in distributing only those books which we believe will sell and that meet the high quality standards required by many of our retailers. We may reject audio titles because the quality of the recording or performance is poor. We also will not distribute titles whose content we consider illegal, obscene, or offensive. But if you have any questions, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your particular case.
When we review an audiobook title for distribution, we're looking for several things.
- Generally, we want a title that is over 2-3 hours in length. Anything shorter than that is less of an audiobook and more of a spoken word album. We find that the longer books tend to sell a little better. We can make exceptions to the length rule, depending on the quality of the title.
- The audio quality must be pristine. There should be no background noise, room sounds, strange echos, etc.
- The audio of the narrator's voice must be well-recorded. It should be clean and clear. There should be no "muddiness" to the audio quality. The Mic should have been positioned in such a way that there are no plosives (e.g., popped P's or B's).
- The narrator's performance should sound professional. The narrator should have a pleasing voice, and a solid performance. It should be well-paced and easy to understand. There shouldn't be stumbles or mistakes in the recording.
- The content of the audio title should be engaging.
If you believe that your title meets all of these criteria, please contact us about submitting your title for consideration.
Open Book Audio distributes to most all of the major audiobook retailers worldwide. You can currently find our titles in the following stores:
- Ambling Books
- Audiobooks Online
- Audiobook Stand DL
- Audio Book Store
- Barnes and Noble
- Learn Out Loud
- Read Without Paper
- Simply Audiobooks
In addition to these retail outlets, Open Book Audio is always expanding our retail reach by following the latest trends in the audiobook marketplace, and working with retailers to make our catalog available through as many retail outlets as possible. In the coming months, we expect to add even more retailers to this list.
No. Open Book Audio manages to keep its percentages and royalties low by not navigating through the fast-disappearing world of physical distribution. Bookstores are going out of business left and right. Libraries, one of the last buyers of physical audiobooks, are fast transitioning to online digital distribution of audio titles. The overhead of producing, warehousing, and shipping physical titles would require us to take a much larger percentage of your sales. You will still maintain the physical distribution rights to your title, so if you want to sell your CDs on your own or through another distributor, you are free to do so.
Open Book Audio doesn't charge any upfront setup or processing fees for listing your title with us. Instead, we charge a percentage of the sales of your title after the retailers have taken their cut. This means that we don't many any money unless you do.
Here's how it works: If your audiobook was selling for $20 and the retailer took a 60% cut ($12), your net revenue would be $8. Open Book Audio would take a 30% cut of that amount ($2.40), and you would be left with the remainder: $5.60. Our retailers generally charge between 40-80% retail fees depending on the retailer, and the type of sale made.
Yes and no.
As a digital-only distributor, Open Book Audio distributes to all major audiobook retailers in the world, and we are constantly on the lookout for new retail outlets to sell our titles. Our distribution agreement states that you will grant us exclusive rights to distribute the digital version of your audiobook. If you want to distribute a physical version of your title (Tapes, CDs, Thumb drives), you are welcome to do so. If you sell your audiobook on your own website, we also allow you to continue doing that.
However, one of the questions we are often asked is, "My audiobook is already listed on ACX/Audible/iTunes/Amazon. Will you distribute it everywhere else?" Unfortunately, at this time, we are not able to provide distribution services for only selected retailers. We rely on the income from all of our retailers to help offset the costs of processing, submitting, and maintaining the titles in our catalog. Likewise, limiting the retailers where we sell our titles limits our ability to market our entire catalog, and complicates the accounting and rights processes.
Also, by providing us with exclusive rights to your title, you give us the ability to partner with all new retailers as they come online without having to worry about conflicting title listings, amending our contracts, etc.
As a company, Open Book Audio does not believe in Digital Rights Management. It does very little to dissuade people from pirating titles, and generally impacts only the honest consumer. Among the collection of retailers which carry our catalog, there are some who do not DRM their content, and others that do. Audible.com, for instance, our largest retailer, does use Digital Rights Management. So, whether or not your title will be sold with Digital Rights Management will depend on which retailer it was purchased from.
The first step to do is to contact us and let us know that you’re interested in submitting a book for consideration. We review every title submitted to us before we allow the title into our catalog. We're looking at audio quality, narrator quality, length, subject matter, and overall performance as part of this review process. Many of our retailers have standards of quality which must be met before they will accept new titles for publication.
Once you have contacted us, we can then work out the details of how to get the digital version of the book over to us for review. You can also send CDs, DVDs, Thumb Drives, or Hard Drives to the following address:
Open Book Audio
ATTN: Book Submission
PO BOX 3304
Redmond, WA 98073.
We can not return any titles submitted to us, so don’t submit on a format that you want back.
Open Book Audio is based in the United States, but we do with with several authors and small publishers located in countries around the world, and with titles in different languages. (In fact, some of our best-sellers are titles that came to us from outside of the US.)
There are a couple of restrictions, however:
- Payments to all users outside of the United States will be made via PayPal. Payments will be made on the same quarterly schedule.
- We require that all metadata (descriptions, titles, etc.) be provided in both English and in the language of the title.
- OBA reserves the right not to accept a title for any reason. If we believe a title will not sell well, we may choose not to add that title to our catalog.
Audiobook Production (8)
Audiobooks are a rapidly growing field. They cater to people who like to read, but may not have the time. They are fantastic for listening to while gardening, commuting, cleaning the house, or doing chores. There are many people who simply don’t have the time or the ability to read, and if you want to reach those people, audiobooks are a way to open your title up to an entirely different audience.
Open Book Audio has a list of "preferred" narrators that we like to work with--narrators who we've worked with before, and who have a proven track record of high quality narration, provided in a timely manner. We regularly audition new narrators as well to meet the specific performance needs of any particular title. As part of the production process, we will provide you with several auditions of narrators reading a short sample of your work, so you can determine which voice and performance you think sounds the best on your title. Then we'll handle all the rest from there.
For the most part, recording your audiobook with Open Book Audio is an easy, wonderful experience. There are a few things that you won’t necessarily experience when you record with us, though. For starters, you won’t be able to attend or direct the recording sessions, since we work in smaller studios and with narrators across the country. You won’t be able to narrate your own title if that’s what you want to do (and frankly, it would likely be cheaper to go to a local recording studio to record your audiobook if you want to narrate your own title.) And lastly, we will send you the first chapter to review to ensure that we’re on the right track. But after that, Open Book Audio’s very talented producers and directors will oversee the production entirely and send you a rough mix to review once the project is done.
There are a couple of other things you'll give up. You'll give up having to worry about trying to juggle studio time and scheduling narrators. You'll give up having to spend countless hours sitting through mind-numbing editing sessions. And you'll give up a whole lot of worry, since Open Book Audio's products are always top-notch. Recording with Open Book Audio means that when the final product arrives, you’ll have an audiobook as well-produced and well-performed as you would wish.
You will maintain the complete audio rights to your title. When we send you the final masters, what you do with the title is your decision, and your responsibility. If you would like to have Open Book Audio distribute your book for you, we are able to do so with our distribution network, but even then, you still own the rights. It’s your book, and with Open Book Audio, it always will be.
Open Book Audio records based on a "Per Finished Hour" (PFH) rate, meaning that we charge a flat fee for every hour that the final audiobook runs, rounded up to the nearest 30-minute increment. We generally estimate that 8,000 words of text results in an hour of audio, so you can divide the total number of words in your title by 8,000 and you will have a rough idea of how long the title will run.
Our PFH cost includes a single narrator, a director/producer, mixing, mastering, a single piece of stock music (which may be used several times within the title, if you so wish), and delivery of the final audiobook in a variety of formats (Original session files, WAV/AIFF, low-resolution MP3, and high-resolution MP3). If you want multiple narrators, multiple pieces of music, custom music, sound effects, or other customizations for your title, there may be additional fees added to the flat PFH rate.
To get an estimate, fill out our no-obligation estimate form.
Open Book Audio requires a deposit of 50% before we will begin production of your audio title. Once production is finished, we will send you a review copy with auditory watermarks. If you approve of the product, you can send the remaining 50% of the agreed-upon price to Open Book Audio, and we will send out the clean master files.
This depends on a few things—not least of which is how long your book actually is and how complicated the production will be. It will also depend on how quickly we are able to find an appropriate narrator, how quickly you are able to review the title and provide notes, and the number of changes or updates that you require. Assuming that everything goes very smoothly, a standard 50,000 word novel may be very roughly estimated to take approximately 4 weeks to complete, once the narrator has been selected. We will be able to give you a more accurate timeline for the production of your title once a narrator has been selected, and we have a better idea of the difficulty of the book.
Open Book Audio, LLC is an audiobook production and distribution company. We specialize in working with independent authors and publishers to bring your story to life. With Open Book Audio, it's your story, out loud.
© 2011 Open Book Audio, LLC. All Rights Reserved