Manchester University Press (MUP) has launched an audiobook pilot programme, following claims students with "screen fatigue" are increasingly turning to the format.
The press will launch a series of titles available globally across a variety of audio platforms and libraries, starting with five covering topics including feminism, literary and cultural theory, and the treatment of the Uyghurs in China.
Dr Mark Carrigan, lecturer in education at the University of Manchester, highlighted a potential "tipping point" in a recent LSE blog on the rise of the "audible university", suggesting that increasing levels of screen fatigue by colleagues and students during the pandemic has resulted in more students using resources such as podcasts and audiobooks.
The audiobook pilot is managed internally at the press. Among titles that have been selected by staff are The War on the Uyghurs: China's Campaign Against Xinjiang's Muslims by Sean R Roberts; Culture is Bad for You: Inequality in the Cultural and Creative Industries by Orian Brook, Dave O'Brien and Mark Taylor; Britain’s ‘Brown Babies’: The Stories of Children Born to Black GIs and White Women in the Second World War by Lucy Bland; Me, Not You: the Trouble with Mainstream Feminism by Alison Phipps; and undergraduate handbook, Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory by Peter Barry.
The audiobooks pilot is being overseen by MUP’s production editor, Jen Mellor, who said: "Audio continues to be a growth area across the board, and it creates some innovative possibilities within academic publishing.
"As well as enhancing the accessibility of a book, audio editions cater to individual user preferences, which is great news as we hear that academics and students are increasingly keen to consume information in ‘multimodal’ forms, combining traditional text with other types of reading."
The press plans to release more audiobooks over the next few years, as their popularity continues to rise.
"We have been encouraged by growing demand for audiobooks across the marketplace and believe that with careful selection of books from our publishing programme, including our growing trade list, we can make a success of this initiative," said MUP’s director of operations, John Normansell. "Choosing the right production company is also important, and we are lucky to work with several excellent suppliers."
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