'Freedom across formats'
A partnership with US audiobook distributor Findaway is the key to this late-year development. Based in Solon, Ohio, Findaway is bringing audiobook bundling of selected titles to BitLit from Blackstone Audio, Gildan Media, Hachette Audio, HarperAudio, Naxos Audiobooks and Scholastic Audio.
In a prepared statement, BitLit's staff says the new arrangement with Findaway adds titles to its offerings from authors including Joe Hill, Harper Lee, Chris Kyle, Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Suzanne Collins, Haruki Murakami, Nicholas Sparks and David Baldacci.
The consumer-facing vehicle for this from BitLit's operation is the "Shelfie" app in iOS and Android, which allows users to take photos of their print libraries and have BitLit report on which titles are available for ebook bundling—and now for audiobook bundling, as well.
For its part, Findaway uses a proprietary "AudioEngine" B2B (business to business) audiobook delivery platform as its distribution vehicle, along with a series of "Playaway Preloaded Products" for libraries, schools, and military installations. These preloaded products include dedicated players, tablets and e-readers. Findaway was mentioned earlier this season in a comment to The Bookseller by Orion audio publisher Pandora White.
'Simple and immediate access'
“Findaway is always looking for new opportunities to further our mission of providing simple and immediate access to digital content,” said Mitch Kroll, co-founding c.e.o. of Findaway in a statement.
Kroll said that the BitLit Shelfie advantage for his company is both an expanded listener base and consumers; "ability to listen to books they already own in print" by requesting them through BitLit's Shelfie app.
BitLit's co-founding c.e.o. Peter Hudson, whose programme now partners for ebook bundling with more than 1,200 publishers, continues to emphasise the consumer-choice aspect of the Shelfie service.
He says that he sees adding audiobooks as "yet another way to further our mission of promoting reading freedom across formats – allowing readers to access the stories they’ve bought whenever and however they choose.”
In an interesting comparison, Findaway is an 11-year-old company, founded in 2004, while BitLit is two years old, founded in 2013 to work with both more established and fellow startup publishing firms.
The new partnership comes as audiobooks continue to establish new ground in digital publishing. For the first year, the FutureBook Awards of last week included an audiobooks award, in association with Audible. Winners were The Girl on the Train by Random House Audiobooks; So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Audible Studios, and The Bell Jar, read by Maggie Gyllenhaal for Canongate and Faber.