HarperCollins Christian Publishing imprints Thomas Nelson and Zondervan are promoting their audiobook titles with extended samples known as First Listens as interest in podcasts and digital audiobooks continues to grow.
The program launched in October and features 15-20 minute pre-publication excerpts from lead-title audiobooks. The excerpts are available for streaming from SoundCloud , and so far HCCP has released samples from three titles which have been listened to a total of 65,000 times. The most recent, for country singer and songwriter Rory Feek’s memoir, This Life I Live: One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed it Forever (Thomas Nelson, Feb. 14), was streamed 40,000 times in under three weeks.
Interest in First Listens follows the boom in digital audio. According to the Association of American Publishers, adult trade digital audiobooks were up 29% through August 2016 compared to the same period a year prior. “The response that we’ve received shows there is an audience that is enthusiastic about getting their content in the audio format,” said Catherine Zappa, director of audio sales at HCCP.
First Listens are longer than the five-minute excerpts generally used in promotions, according to Jolene Barto, HCCP’s audio marketing manager.
“We have offered excerpted content from our titles in pre-order campaigns for many years now, but not a complete chapter,” Barto said. “We saw the First Listen opportunity as a great way to showcase Thomas Nelson and Zondervan audiobooks.”
Both publishing imprints and the authors promote the First Listens, and Barto cited a lift in both trade paper and audiobook pre-order sales after the samples were released.
First Listen launched with Chip and Joanna Gaines’ The Magnolia Story (Thomas Nelson), which debuted as the #1 book in the country and has since sold 700,000 copies across all formats to date, according to NPD Bookscan. The title’s First Listen was played 19,000 times in one day, according to Thomas Nelson.