If you sat next to Scott Brick on a jet, you probably wouldn't recognize him. But if you listen regularly to recorded books—known in the industry as audiobooks—during long flights, you'd probably know his voice. Brick, who commands $300 per finished hour, is one of the highest paid audiobook narrators in the business. At 39, he has recorded more than 250 titles and hopes to do more work in the Christian segment of the $800-million industry that has traditionally employed authors to read their own works.

The Christian audio market is producing impressive sales. As noted by Christian Retailing, while religious print book sales declined by 8.6 percent for the recent quarter, audiobook sales gained 15.5 percent. And it's not just Tyndale House, publisher of the Left Behind series. Tyndale licenses unabridged (full text) rights to companies such as Recorded Books, a nonreligious rental and library specialist based in Maryland. Similar partnerships exist between Christian publishers and audio companies such as Books on Tape and Blackstone Audiobooks.

Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins, reports a 24-percent increase in audiobook sales in the past two years. (Its top seller is The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren.) Time Warner AudioBooks (TWA) is seeking a 10-percent audiobook share of its million-plus hardcover sales, books such as Approval Addiction by Joyce Meyer. TWA first achieved this goal with Your Best Life Now, written and read by Joel Osteen.

Anthony Goff, TWA's associate publisher, tells CT, "For a relatively new medium, these are explosive numbers, and now we are attracting younger listeners with new technology, while promoting audiobooks to networks of pastors with free samples."

Hovel Audio, ...

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June 2006

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