Recorded Books Inc. has acquired HighBridge Audio, the audiobook imprint of Workman Publishing. The purchase, which was completed May 1, will add about 1,000 titles to the Recorded Books list and significantly expand its presence in the trade market, said Recorded Books CEO Rich Freese.
Recorded Book is best known for its school and library audiobooks and has a small retail line. As part of the purchase, Recorded Books has signed a services agreement with Workman for the company to continue to distribute the HighBridge line for at least the rest of the calendar year. Recorded Books also plans to retain the Highbridge name as an imprint. “We have high regard for HighBridge’s editorial eye,” said Recorded Books’ Troy Juliar, who had worked at Highbridge from 1996-2000. One of HighBridge’s largest publisher clients is the Workman imprint Algonquin Books which will continue to license audio rights to its former sister company. According to Freese, Recorded Books is in the process of evaluating just how HighBridge will fit into the company and if it will take on any Highbridge employees.
In a statement, Workman Publishing head Carolan Workman said the sale of the audio imprint will let the company better focus its resources. “Our affiliation with HighBridge has been exceptional, but it became clear as we looked to the future that Workman should be investing its energy in its core strengths,” she said. Workman acquired HighBridge in 2006. HighBridge was founded in the early 1980s by Minnesota Public Radio, under the Rivertown Trading Company umbrella, as an outlet to produce and sell recordings of Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion radio program. "We love their non-book efforts, too," said Juliar, speaking about the Keillor connection.
The HighBridge purchase comes three months after Recorded Books was acquired by the investmemt group Wasserstein & Co.