With sales of downloadable audiobooks continuing to grow at a fast pace, Recorded Books, Inc., has picked a digital media veteran as its new president and CEO. Tom MacIsaac took the helm of the audiobook publisher and distributor in late June, succeeding Rich Fresse.
Prior to joining Recorded Books, MacIsaac had been CEO of Verve Mobile from 2010 to 2015 where he expanded the company's mobile and advertising capabilities. MacIsaac also held senior positions at ExtendMedia where he was CEO; AOL where he was senior v-p for strategy and corporate development; and Lightningcast where he was also CEO.
Mike LaSalle, partner at Shamrock Capital Investors which acquired Recorded Books in August 2015, pointed to MacIsaacs background in making him the best choice to head Recorded Books. MacIsaac's "deep media, technology and M&A experience," LaSalle said, "will be critical assets for the company as we seek to sharpen our content focus [and] strengthen our digital-media distribution."
In an interview with PW, MacIsaac, an English major in college, said he is a life-long lover of books and listens to audiobooks whenever he doesn't have the chance to read a book in either print or digital form. He is excited about the opportunities that the ongoing transition from physical audio to digital means for Recorded Books. One early priority is to continue to develop ways to deepen Recorded Books' reach into the library market where its OneClickdigital platform continues to grow since its 2012 introduction. While at Verve, the company developed mobile apps for a number of large media companies, MacIsaac said, and he sees enhancing Recorded Books' mobile capabilities as another priority.
While looking to upgrade RB's digital capabilities, MacIsaac said the company "will not take our eye off the ball" in terms of continuing to publish quality audiobooks and releasing physical audio. MacIsaac believes there is a floor to how low sales of physical audio will fall and estimated that physical audio sales will stabilize in a couple of years. There will always be consumers who want physical audio, MacIsaac said, including libraries.
He acknowledged that one of the challenges Recorded Books faces is the trend by most large publishers to keep more audio rights in-house. He said Recorded Books is thinking about the types of content that it could develop which may range from original short form content to multiple narrator audiobooks doing original productions. Until that happens MacIsaac said he believes a growing number of agents and authors recognize that audio has become an "exploitable intellectual property" that could find a good home at an independent audio publisher.
At present, Recorded Books has over 27,000 audiobook and MacIsaac said the company will continue to look for acquisitions to complement its organic growth.