I think I hear the point tipping…

HarperAudio’s spring release list contains 150 titles with just two as physical CD audiobooks. The rest are download-only, a serious shift in format by one of the major audiobook producers. Publishers Weekly has an excellent story by Rachel Deahl, Harper Changes the Audio Equation, that investigates the issue, included changes in HarperAudio’s contract language covering audio rights. This shift has been gaining momentum, as digital downloads become the lion’s share of both print and audio sales. For libraries, this is a huge issue, as most professional review journals are just beginning to even think about include downloadable-only material reviews to help librarians select the best new releases. Plus, budgets that are set to purchase physical materials may need to migrate funds to purchases made through the library’s digital download provider. Other audiobook publishers are still stocking their catalogs with plenty of physical-format CDs, heck some even still release cassette tapes! But Harper’sAudio’s radical move to a near-complete digital revolution in new releases is a clear signal that shift happens – and we librarians better be letting publishers, vendors, digital suppliers, and our professional journals hear our voices, before we are left stuck behind in a big pile of shift.

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About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

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