HarperCollins has hired BBC’s Radio 1 editor Rachel Mallender to head up its audio book arm.
Mallender, who is currently editor for BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra in charge of content production for 1Xtra's daytime shows, including digital, social and broadcast, will join the company on 7th September in the role of group audio director.
She replaces Jo Forshaw, who left the publisher in March after eight years in the role.
Mallender has over 20 years’ experience at the BBC across multiple stations and positions and will report to digital director Jo Surman.
In turn Tanya Hougham, senior audio editor and producer, Fionnuala Barrett, senior audio editor, Jack Chalmers, audio editor and Ore Agbaje-Williams, audio assistant, will report to her. She will be responsible for driving the HarperCollins audio strategy, including its commitment to create an audio version of every narrative title it publishes in print under its “Total Audio” philosophy.
Surman said: “With Rachel’s appointment we complete a truly world-class audio team that will be the envy of the industry. The audio market is alive with opportunity and HarperCollins continues to lead the way in this area…Rachel brings with her a wealth of experience in audio content creation which, combined with her passion for storytelling, will help HarperCollins take audio to new levels.”
Mallender said she thought HarperCollins had been the publisher “making all the running in innovation and sheer commitment” to audio books. “I’m thrilled to be joining its first-class team and look forward to working with such an amazing array of talent and content,” she added.
HarperCollins last month announced it had partnered with talkRADIO to bring “A Summer of Walliams” to the airwaves every Sunday during "The Story Hour", with the aim of airing the best children’s audiobooks, targeting family audiences.
Earlier this year The Bookseller reported on how publishers were responding to the surge in audiobook downloads by investing more in the sector, hiring new staff, upping the number of titles they publish and exploring audio-first opportunities.
According to Publishers Association’s annual statistics, the value of audiobook downloads to UK publishers increased by 28%, to £16m in 2016.