A year after going into liquidation owing to a breakdown in the relationship between its directors, digital indie Endeavour Media (the new iteration of the now-dissolved Endeavour Press) is "sailing on as before", with annual sales of £1.2m, according to founder Matthew Lynn (pictured). Although it made its name in e-books (the publisher sells around 80,000 a month), Endeavour now has its sights set on audio, and is launching a new list this month. Lynn and publishing director James Faktor talk to The Bookseller.
How have you been able to launch the imprint, a year after undergoing liquidation?
ML: Because the liquidation of Endeavour Press was an entirely solvent process, it didn't take Endeavour Media too long to be up and running at full capacity. On top of this, we managed to control the production costs effectively and create five audiobooks within an agreed budget.
Why are you launching an audiobook imprint?
JF: We were approached recently by some large audiobook publishers enquiring about adapting a few of our titles, and thought that it may be something we could handle ourselves. Having looked into the market and associated costs, we felt confident that we could produce an affordable, good quality audiobook, and we wanted to be able to offer our authors an audio option.
Who will lead the imprint, and will you hire any extra staff? What are your plans for the audio list?
JF: Our audio imprint, Endeavour Waves, will be overseen by myself and our c.e.o. Rebecca Souster for now. While we test the market, there is no need for extra staff. We are starting Endeavour Waves off with five audiobooks, and our plan is to see which platforms work for a smaller independent publisher like Endeavour Media. Because there is very little sales data available, the only way to find out if audiobooks are a long-term viable option is to experiment and make a small splash with a selection of titles. If we receive good early
sales, then we will look to reinvest the revenue into the imprint.
What do you think of the state of the audio market?
ML: Having more than doubled in size over the past few years, the market doesn't show any sign of slowing down. But it's not clear whether this boom is benefiting everyone in the industry. Audible seems to have a stranglehold on the market, enabling it to set high prices and potentially squeeze out smaller publishers from gaining a foothold in a subscription-based model.
What are the challenges and opportunities in the market?
JF: From our perspective, discoverability will be the main challenge. It's unclear whether Audible's subscription based model, which offers listeners one token a month, will be beneficial for us if listeners are reluctant to use this token on a lesser-known author--or on a book that's not narrated by Stephen Fry! Our challenge is to find the platforms that are right for us, whether it is an unlimited subscription or a streaming service, where our fiction can be promoted and discovered.
If we can find the right platforms, then the opportunity is there to develop a closer connection to a readership that is curious to explore new writing. Research suggests that the audio format has more appeal for young urban professionals from more diverse backgrounds than the e-book does. Some of the books that we are commissioning with our print division, Endeavour Quill, will focus on social issues, and audio could open up an exciting new audience for these stories. We also think backlist could be a huge opportunity, just as it has been in e-books.
What are your ambitions for growing audio sales—do you have specific targets in mind?
JF: We haven't made any promises to our authors about how well their books will perform in audio format. However, we have picked books that sold very well in e-book format, and judging by our own market research, we have very loose expectations of achieving one audiobook sale for every 15 e-book sales.
Endeavour Waves' five launch titles are: Tail Gunner by R C Rivaz; Fletcher's Fortune by Joseph Lindoe; The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau; Viral Assault by Julia Hugo Rachel; and Great Traits by Tobias Harwood.