The lost art of enchanting with the spoken word is back

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

As soon as he began to speak, even the cows that roamed the city stood and raised their ears, and the monkeys gave shrieks of approval from the rooftops, and the parrots imitated his voice in the trees.


I think of Rasid Khalifa, the minstrel emerged from Salman Rushdie's narrative, when I want to evoke the power of the spoken word. Telling stories is suggestive and transforming. It creates an emotional bond with the listener.

The narrative contributes to the verbal construction of the world. It occurs to me that this is the reason why the audiobook has become the star of the Spanish publishing industry.


The narrated book is the new way people consume stories. Oral stories are the complement or alternative to electronic or paper books. Currently the main publishing groups and independent producers are banking on this form of storytelling as they compete for the promising profits of this marketing model. Audiobooks have digitally rescued an art that was considered lost.


Narrating books is not in any way simple. If it is compared to the sewing it would be more akin to embroidering. It is like the intricate and delicate stitching on a piece of fabric that intertwines the imagination of the narrator with that of the listener. It builds a bridge.


Today, the language, codes and resources of oral narration rediscover their space in our daily lives. This year audiobook sales are expected to grow between 20 and 30%, according to forecasts of the V Bookwire Report titled, “Evolution of the digital market (ebooks and audiobooks) in Spain and Latin America.


To understand the digital transformation that is happening in the Spanish markets, it is enough to review the analysis made by that leading platform, which operates with more than 400 independent Spanish and Latin American publishers.

Forecasts suggest that this year an important mark will be surpassed in Spanish audiobook production.

If at the end of 2018 there were about 8,000 audiobook titles available in the Spanish language, compared to no more than 6,000 titles in 2017, data predicts that in 2019 the 10,000 barrier will be broken.

The surge is mainly due to two reasons: the firm and growing commitment of authors, agents and publishers and he the emergence in Spain and Latin America of specialized platforms such as Audible, Storytel, and Kobo, amongst others.


This coincides with the trend in other markets where narrated books have registered a 20% annual increase in sales over the past five years.



Thus, the digital listening model is the fastest growing in the world of books. In the words of Markus Dohle, executive director of the Penguin Random House publishing group, in "five or seven years" there will be more audiobooks than ebooks in the world. In the United States alone, according to Pew Research, one in five adults has heard an audiobook.


It is known that oral narrative art offers countless advantages, which we will discuss in a separate post, and that the tradition of listening to stories is everywhere. Omnipresent technology today goes hand in hand with the human desire for fantasy, imagination and exchange of experiences. The result is a digital transformation that seems unstoppable. It is a golden opportunity to rescue that craft of embroidering stories, that lost art of enchanting with the word.




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