Audiobooks: when the past becomes future

Updated: Aug 14, 2019


It is said that there is nothing new under the sun. When all areas of technology and industry have an impact on all traditional fields of knowledge, a promising market in Spanish -the digital content of audiobooks- suggests that the future goes hand in hand with its remotest past.


In the beginning, was the Word. A human group around the fire listening to a story. A rhapsodist perpetuating the epic of Homer in the most distant antiquity. A minstrel singing a feat in a medieval square or banquet. The rhythms, sounds and vibrations of the first lullaby of a nursery rhyme or cradle song.


Despite the overwhelming advance of what some consider the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is an ancestral element that has not changed, that has always been, that has never been diluted and that promises much: the power of the spoken word.


The latest sales analysis of Bookwire, the digital book distribution and marketing platform that brings together more than 400 independent publishers in Latin America and Spain, showed a promising digital transformation in the Spanish markets and anticipated that by 2019 the 10,000 books spoken in this language will be exceeded.


The phenomenon of the rise of this digital format seems unstoppable. It is a commitment to the future but that has its roots in the very beginning of the transmission of knowledge and emotions.


It is well known and I personally passionately advocate the notion that everything started with the word. "Once upon a time " there was a book. Allow me to play with the title of the volume of stories that my generation grew up with.


A work of the Spanish-Cuban writer Herminio Almendros, and published for the first time in 1956, the volume contains in its pages a recreation of the most famous children's stories of all time, many of them bequeathed through the magic of orality.


The narrations of little soldiers, cats, princes and little red riding hoods, contained within the covers of that book, have won the affection of millions of people who heard the stories read by their parents and who in turn read them with love to their children.

From the cover of "Once Upon a Time" to the covers of the unforgettable narrations of Grimm, Salgari, Twain or Verne the was a short distance; It was the natural way to the other side of the mirror, and as a climax, I had the luck to grow on the radio.


Since my adolescence, the almost manual craft, of weaving words has been a palpable and corporal reality; first, observing the adults in the broadcast booth, in the editing studios, between the shelves of the library, in the journalistic writing, and, later, being myself part of that process; of that fascinating inner working machinery, goldsmith and juggler that is to create, fill a page, breathe life into a text on air.


My experience is not very different from the group of friends and colleagues that are part of Audiobooks in Spanish. We are a group of communication professionals, experienced former journalists of the BBC in London, we combine our passion for books with the excellence in the use of language, a multi-decade experience in all audiovisual platforms and the use of new technologies in several countries in Europe and the Americas.


We are all driven by the same motivation: the artisan work with the words, and the same deference: the admiration of the goldsmith who creates with his hands and the rhapsodist who recreates with his voice.


If rhapsody is a word that is composed of the fast Greek verb, darning, and the noun odé, singing, the storyteller of books has been the same: a mender of songs. A magician of sounds.

It is a work of prestidigitation, a game with the hands, artisanal, as I said, the one that is required to bring a text to the domains of the voice, and if 'translation' has been related to tradition ("traduttori, traditori"), our goal is more than keeping the twists and the original nuances. It is interpreting them and giving them all their meaning in this language that we speak and that we love.


It is, after all, a reinvention of that original impulse in front of the fire, of that epic that sounded in antiquity, and of that itinerant minstrel who offered his street spectacle. It is the future, but it is also the beginning.





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