Audio Books: The New Frontier for Erotica?
When audio books became available, first as tape cassettes, then CDs, and finally, digital files, there was scant motivation for me to partake of them because I really enjoy reading. Indeed, I questioned why anyone would prefer to listen to a book when reading is so pleasurable. Replacing recreational or educational books with audio versions did not resonate with me at all.
There are, of course, people for whom audio books make perfect sense, such as the blind or those whose eyesight is impaired drastically. For them, audio is a far better option than Braille. People born with dyslexia, a condition that makes reading extremely difficult and definitely not enjoyable, also benefit from them. And those who are primarily auditory learners would do well to indulge in audio books to optimize their learning experience.
Innumerable ordinary circumstances exist where listening to a book may be more convenient or practical than reading one. Many people like to listen to audio books while they’re driving, or while involved with tasks that preclude their eyes being focused on a book or an electronic reader. Their motivation may range from forestalling boredom to better utilizing otherwise unproductive time.
Despite the varied situations in which audio books are a valid option, I never gave them much thought until I was reading over the fine print of the contract for my first erotic e-book, which stipulated that all audio and print publishing rights belong to me. At the time I just made a mental note of that provision because I was extremely pleased to have gotten my manuscript accepted and figured I would revisit that issue later, or not at all.
Two published naughty e-books later, when I was actively involved with reviewing erotic BDSM and femdom books at various websites frequented by readers of such fare, Ariane Arborene asked me to review her audio book edition of Two FemDom Cuckolding Stories. Her seemingly innocuous request has resulted in me becoming a fan of audio books in general and realizing that audio is ideally suited for presenting erotic tales if done well.
As I listened to Hollie Jackson’s smooth and sultry narration of Ms. Arborene’s femdom-themed vignettes, I mentally acknowledged how it enhanced the “reading” experience by providing a sense of immediacy and “being there.” And the oral rendering of those stories likely made their lean prose more accessible to readers who normally crave back-story with their erotica.
As I mused about the experience afterward, I started thinking of audio books’ “practical” advantages unique to readers of erotica. An oft heard jest about reading erotic e-books alludes to reading with one hand – a truism to be sure! Doubtless in the future as erotic audio books become more popular, many will joke about them as hands-free reading material. Such is progress.
In addition to becoming a fan of erotic audio books, I am now an audio book publisher. I commissioned the same narrator of Two FemDom Cuckolding Stories as the voice artist for my novella The Accidental Domme. I must confess that it was an exhilarating experience hearing my manuscript brought to life by a skilled performer, reminiscent for me of seeing the play I wrote in college performed for the first time. So far fans of femdom literature seem to enjoy Hollie Jackson’s interpretation of my book.
Until relatively recently, very few publishers of erotica converted the titles in their portfolios into audio books. Likely reasons include perceived cost/benefit, unfamiliarity with the market, and difficulty finding affordable voice talent. The proliferation of smart phones and iPad-like devices with audio apps seems to be encouraging an increase in the number of erotic print and e-books now also available in audio format.
Amazon.com, indisputably the primary driver of print and e-book sales worldwide, is poised to further exploit the audio book market with its subsidiary Audible.com. The genius of Audible is that it matches rights holders with experienced narrators, many of whom will provide their services for a share of commissions rather than upfront payments, which is an attractive feature for self-publishing authors and cash-strapped small publishers. With automatic distribution to Amazon and Apple, it is just a matter of time before Audible becomes a major player in the audio book market. As they say, all boats rise with the tide, so the number of erotic audio books being produced is bound to increase – capitalism at work; the consumer is the winner!
By Jim Lyon