PRH extends BBC Studios audio deal, recruits Connor and Bland

PRH extends BBC Studios audio deal, recruits Connor and Bland

Penguin Random House has extended its audiobook licensing deal with BBC Studios and appointed Philip Connor from Unbound and Louise Bland of Audible as commissioning editors.

The new deal sees PRH build on one it signed with the broadcaster in 2015 and makes it the global publisher and distributor of BBC-branded digital and physical audiobooks.

Under the new agreement, BBC Audio will increase its non-fiction offering and expand on its extensive drama and comedy publishing. Upcoming titles including the Beethoven Unleashed series to mark 250 years since the birth of the great composer, plus “definitive” author-led collections with all-star casts featuring the collected BBC recordings of the works of H G Wells, Henrik Ibsen and George Eliot, among others, alongside comedy from Miles Jupp, Ellie Taylor and Isy Suttie.

As part of the growth plans, Connor has been appointed as commisioning editor (factual) with Bland joining as commissioning editor (comedy and drama).

Connor has five years’ experience of commissioning non-fiction titles at Unbound and hosts the publishing podcast “What Editors Want”. The list he built at Unbound includes 24 Stories, an anthology of short stories about Grenfell Tower selected by Kathy Burke and Repeal the 8th, an anthology on the fight for reproductive rights in Ireland. In 2013 he won the inaugural Faber & Faber scholarship to study for the MA in Publishing at UCL.

Bland has previously worked as a voice agent for Sue Terry Voices and more recently as a casting director and producer at Audible, curating collections and managing the production and publication process. Her projects for Audible include HAG, a collection of re-told UK folk tales, Audible originals Assassin's Creed:Gold and Alien III and the Edinburgh Fringe Audio Theatre 2019 piece for Audible Theatre.

Hannah Telfer, m.d. for audiences and audio at PRH said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with BBC Studios and work with them to grow their much-loved flagship brands even further and build new audio talent. This is a growing area of the publishing industry and the BBC has such a rich catalogue of existing and developing audio collections. At Penguin Random House we are committed to fostering this growth and publishing many more audio bestsellers.”

Jan Paterson, head of books and audio publishing at BBC Studios, added: “BBC Studios has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Penguin Random House since 2015 and I’m delighted we are extending our partnership with them. The audiobook market is thriving, and this agreement means we can further enrich our offering to listeners with access to even more BBC titles and brands.”

Recent projects from the PRH/BBC partnership have included the BBC production of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, which was awarded the Book to Audio award at the annual Creativity Across Media: Entertainment and Originality (CAMEO) Awards.