Info-tech

A buffet of spoken-word content

Mala Bhargava | Updated on October 15, 2021

Audible launches all-you-can-listen catalogue and a menu of free titles for all

The Covid pandemic seems to have given impetus to the listening habit as more people take to audiobooks and podcasts. Allowing you to easily multi-task while being entertained and informed, audio content is understandably gaining in popularity, whether it’s podcasts, audiobooks or even audio-only chat rooms that now abound on Clubhouse and Twitter’s Spaces. Ironically, while technology is what enables audio content in this age of digital streaming, it is the idea of reducing the use of technology that makes listening more attractive to many users. The absence of screens and ‘eye-work’ is particularly appreciated.

In India, the audiobooks and podcasts market is only second to the US and China in terms of growth rate. It does, however, start from a lower base in recent times so growth is all the more dramatic. Globally, the audiobook market is estimated to be $ 4 billion over 2020, and is expected to grow to $ 20 billion by 2030. Audible’s India head Shailesh Sawlani said that Audible listening went up by 20 per cent globally during the pandemic. Industry analysts KPMG have reported that podcast listening increased by 30 per cent in 2020 and Neilson has said that weekly audiobook listening went up from 7 hours to 16 hours. “Sawlani suggests that listeners should access all categories of audio content as there is a great deal of talent creating both books as well as podcasts, not just one or the other.

‘Plus’ catalogue

Audible has now launched a new all-you-can-listen ‘Plus’ catalogue offering Audible members unlimited listening at no additional cost. It features a selection of over 15,000 titles in Hindi and English, including Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts, all included with an Audible membership. New-to-Audible customers can access this entire catalogue with a free trial as well. The Plus catalogue is in addition to one monthly credit available to members, which gives them access to a new audiobook every month, regardless of duration or price, and they can select from over 200,000 Indian and international titles.

The Plus catalogue includes a line-up of Indian audiobooks like Dharmayoddha Kalki by Kevin Missal, The Karadi Tales, The Panchatantra and Autobiography of a Yogi (Hindi Edition) by Paramahansa Yogananda, Audible Originals including Zen: A Way of Living written and voiced by Om Swami, The Last Girl to Fall in Love (English) written by Durjoy Datta; voiced by Prateik Babbar and Rasika Dugal and the highly anticipated season 2 of TVF’s Permanent Roommates: He Said She Said, voiced by Sumeet Vyas and Nidhi Singh, besides several popular podcasts.

There’s a strong leaning towards self improvement and spirituality. “Self improvement and spirituality are clearly a part of the non-fiction offerings available but interestingly what we found is that there’s a clear preference for this kind of content among Indian users. At the same time, there’s a lot of interest in books like Sapiens, for example” said Shailesh Sawlani. Classic works and mythological content were also seen to be popular with Indian listeners. Any content that is spoken in Indian accents has seen better uptake in India.

There are also several global audiobooks in the Plus catalogue including The Prophet by Khalil Gibran (voiced by Riz Ahmed), laugh out loud fan-favorite My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse, A Short History of Nearly Everything written by Bill Bryson, the ever popular Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection written by Arthur Conan Doyle and narrated by Stephen Fry, epic classics like Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Tales of Terror by Edgar Allan Poe and The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Also available in the catalogue are popular international Audible Originals like Deepak Chopra’s Mind Body Zone, Queer Icons by Tan France, Coupledom with Idris and Sabrina Elba, The Coldest Case by James Patterson (voiced by Aaron Paul) and Michael Caine’s Gangs. Many of these books are actually in the public domain free to read, but not easily found free in the audiobook category, although some can indeed be found on YouTube.

The second initiative being taken by Audible includes is for members and non-members both. They can now listen to a selection of over 150 exclusive podcasts and Audible Originals in addition to over 40,000 popular podcasts such as On Purpose with Jay Shetty, Sadhguru and Ted Talks Daily. The Audible Originals catalogue features titles with popular actors and authors including Secrets of Good Health by Rujuta Diwekar, Buri Nazar featuring Sayani Gupta, Rithvik Dhanjani, and Supriya Pathak Kapur, Sasural Wonder Phool featuring Sanya Malhotra and Varun Sharma and more.

The free experience also houses titles offered on the Audible Suno app previously featuring India’s most beloved voices such as Amitabh Bachchan (Kaali Awaazein), Anurag Kashyap, Tabu, Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Thriller Factory), Vir Das (Be Stupid with Vir Das) and many more.

“It’s a strong catalogue, featuring some fantastic titles across genres and I’m confident Audible members are going to make the most of it,” said Sawlani.

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Published on October 15, 2021

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