Leicester-based audiobook and large print publisher W F Howes is now part of a new umbrella company, RBmedia, formed by private equity firm Shamrock Capital and based in Maryland, USA.
As well as W F Howes, RBmedia is also comprised of US-based audiobook brands Recorded Books, Highbridge, Tantor Media and Christianaudio, as well as Wavesound in Australia, and technology division RBdigital. RBdigital allows library users to access audiobooks, digital books, and other content through desktop streaming and mobile apps.
Shamrock has also now acquired Canadian audiobook service Audiobooks.com for RBmedia, providing access to more than 100,000 titles, and making RBmedia the “largest audiobook publisher in the world”.
An RBmedia spokesperson said: “With Audiobooks.com, RBmedia not only produces bestselling spoken audio content, it also offers a technology platform that distributes more than 700,000 digital media titles. RBmedia has unparalleled consumer reach through Audiobooks.com, more than 10,000 library partnerships, and consumer digital resellers.” The spokesperson said that RBmedia is the largest audiobook publisher in the world. Its proprietary catalogue of more than 30,000 premium titles includes titles by Danielle Steel and J R R Tolkien.
Tom MacIsaac, c.e.o of RBmedia, said: “RBmedia is the only company that brings together all three key elements of spoken audio and digital media distribution. Not only do we produce top-quality spoken audio content, we’ve also built a digital media technology platform to deliver hundreds of thousands of digital media titles, and we reach millions of consumers around the world through numerous channels. No one else in the industry has that kind of depth and breadth across both spoken audio and digital media distribution.”
James Woodman, marketing and publicity executive of W F Howes, told The Bookseller: "Our focus is with libraries and day-to-day nothing will change - we will still be W F Howes but we are very excited about it and the acquisition [of Audiobooks.com]. We are putting the message that we’re the largest global group. The fact it’s [backed by private equity] means we can grow aggressively and there will, I hope, be a lot to come in terms of content, authors and growing the overall group."
Private equity firm Wasserstein & Co. originally purchased W F Howes and Australian sister company Wavesound as well as Recorded Books in January 2014 and then went on to purchase Tantour (Jan 2015) and Highbridge (May 2014). Wasserstein & Co. sold the companies to Shamrock Capital in Aug 2015 which then purchased Christian Audio May 2016. RBdigital was formed by Recorded Books.