Germany’s Bookwire Reorganizes Its Audiobook Approach

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

‘Pooling our energies even more to focus on audio,’ Bookwire announces a restructured unit for audiobooks and podcasting.

In Kyiv, consumers test headphones, October 9, 2016. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Panama7

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Ruhrmann: ‘Growth and Ambitions’
Based in Frankfurt, the digital content distributor Bookwire GmbH, founded in 2010 by Jens Klingelhöfer and John Ruhrmann, is very familiar to Publishing Perspectives readers. As we reported, it became clear in late June that the company’s attention to audiobook content was rising, as it announced that its “We Audiobook You” service for distribution had begun offering automated text-to-speech narration in partnership with several vendors of advanced machine-generated readings.

The sometimes heard claim of “artificial intelligence” for this type of audiobook production is an overreach. These are carefully manipulated samplings of voices, of course, in no way sentient. But the value to publishers with backlists that need audio editions could be huge because the cost of an automated audio rendition can be in the hundreds of dollars rather than the thousands. Aware of the inevitable controversy around using non-human readers, Bookwire personnel have insisted that a human reader’s work will of course always be the gold standard, particularly in fiction.

Today (August 8), the company has announced that in “taking account of the constantly growing importance of the audiobook and podcast market,” it’s founding a new “interdisciplinary chapter”  for its audio work. The news signals, if not a shift, at least a refinement in an understanding of an international distributor’s potential gains by raising the priority of audio and offering not only distribution but production capabilities.

Christian Kessler, the company’s senior business manager for audio in the DACH region (Deutschland, Austria, and the Confœderatio Helvetica, or Switzerland), now is in charge of “a team of digital marketing and distribution specialists for Bookwire’s audiobook and podcast customers.”

Kessler: ‘Our “Hörbuchwelten” Cosmos’

Image: Bookwire

The new centricity of audio for the company implied in today’s announcement has been predicted, of course, by Bookwire’s “All About Audio” digital conference presentations during the first two years of the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Today’s announcement outlines the new consolidation of the company’s audio elements to include, under Kessler’s direction:

  • Benjamin Landgrebe and Felicitas Boos as audio marketing managers
  • Daniel Ruh in publisher relations management
  • Carmen Tanzer in publisher relations and services
  • Berry Kilb as manager of publisher relations and services, with oversight of podcast distribution
  • Patrick Van Hecke is audio product manager
  • Holger Tuletz is head of product, and a product owner position is to be assigned

Videl Bar-Kar continues as Bookwire’s international head of audio.

John Ruhrmann

Ruhrmann, Bookwire’s managing director, in a prepared quote for today’s announcement, says, “The new audio team will optimally support our publishing and shop partners in their growth and their ambitions with solutions in the areas of distribution, production, and marketing.

“In order to guarantee this, we can rely on an excellent team that works across themes and cross-functionally. Whether streaming, playlists, or voucher codes, we have solutions for all the requirements of modern audio book distribution.”

Christian Kessler

And Kessler, who heads Bookwire’s new unit, talks of the value of “pooling our energies even more to focus on audio.

“Particular attention will be paid to our ‘Hörbuchwelten‘ [Audio Book Worlds] cosmos on Spotify, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, and our own podcast, with regular audiobook tips and guests such as Cassandra Steen, Ivar Leon Menger, and Daniel Aminati.

“This enables us to guarantee optimal marketing for our publisher and label customers.”

His reference to Hörbuchwelten in social media refers to a channel the company has created to help users “discover your new favorite audio books with us,” a B2C outreach, in other words, to support clients’ audio projects. You can see it here, for example, on YouTube. (Be aware that there’s another YouTube channel, Hörbuchwelt, distinguished by its use of the word in the singular “world” rather than plural.)

More from Publishing Perspectives on audio and audiobooks in publishing is here, more on distribution is here, more on digital publishing is here, and more on Bookwire is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.