Audio Publishers Association Conference

2024 Conference Wrap Up, Part 2

This year’s Audio Publishers Association Conference (APAC) brought together audiobook-industry leaders to explore the evolving landscape of audio consumption. NetGalley was thrilled to sponsor and speak at this event. Across all sessions, attendees and presenters alike celebrated the continued growth of the audio market.

Darcy Piedmonte speaking at APAC 2024, demonstrating how NetGalley members express enthusiasm for audiobooks “out in the wild.”

Paul Abassi (Bookstat) reminded attendees of the huge growth in audiobook sales in recent years, from over $1.7 billion in 2018 to over $3 billion in 2023. Last year proved a substantial increase across both legacy and newer retailers, including publishers of all sizes and multiple genre categories.  Kristen McLain (Circana Entertainment Knowledge Group) positioned audio as a thriving market ripe for further innovation and expansion. Kristen pointed out that audio is the only category growing across all age groups, with some titles selling equal in (or more!) shares than other formats. Further, audiobook consumers are willing and ready to invest in their overall experience. 

Laura Ivy (Edison Research) shared that audiobook audiences are continuing to skew younger, supported by APAC’s own Sales & Consumer Data Survey conducted last year, which revealed: “The majority of audiobook listeners are young, with 57% being between the ages of 18 and 44, significantly higher than the 49% of the U.S. population that falls within the same age range.” Kristen McLain added, “Future listeners are living with current listeners!”

Darcy Piedmonte, Senior Sales Manager at NetGalley, joined Eric Barnett (Supporting Cast), Lizzie Breyer Bowman (Lemonada), and moderator Amy Metsch (Spiegel & Grau) on a panel titled, “Audiobooks in the Wild”, to discuss how forward-thinking approaches to audiobook and spoken word programming foster audience engagement and community. The conversation underscored the significance of dynamic content strategies in attracting and retaining listeners. Darcy delved into the thriving audiobook community facilitated by NetGalley, sharing case studies featuring an independently published audiobook side-by-side with a celebrity memoir (spoiler alert: both performed extremely well on NetGalley). She also spoke about NetGalley’s role in fostering interactions between audio publishers and enthusiastic listeners, providing updates about the NetGalley community’s growth and engagement. Be on the lookout for more about this!

A highlight of the event was Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote address emphasizing tremendous opportunities for internet-based audio. Gladwell brought attention to our collective chance to democratize production, highlight on-demand, recursive listening, and revolutionize access with few barriers to entry. However, there are significant limitations standing in the way related to fair- versus limited use, where limited use greatly sacrifices transformative experiences that can enhance listeners’ lives. Gladwell illuminated the downsides in the specific, story-driven way only he can. The audience was convinced: the industry is not currently able to exploit the full potential of the audio medium. However, as industry professionals we can band together for a “Fair Use” movement and coalition. Only then will we harness the power of our creative potential and realize the spoken word future we all want to see. 

Lastly, we are thrilled to congratulate this year’s Audie Award Winners! We’re honored that so many of these award-winning audiobooks were available on NetGalley.

Read more of our 2024 conference wrap ups:

And find us at the following events this spring!

  • March 12 – 14, London Book Fair
  • March 21 – 24, Leipzig Book Fair
  • April 12, Book Industry Study Group (BISG) Annual Meeting
  • April 12 – 14, Paris Book Festival
  • April 25 – 27, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Publishing University

Conference Wrap Up, Part 1 – APAC

Conference season is in full swing in a way we haven’t seen since 2019! It’s been rejuvenating to reconnect with so many of our colleagues and partners in the industry over coffee, tea, and/or something a little stronger. Post-show happy hours haven’t gone anywhere, and we’re glad to toast the return of the trade shows.

In March and April, the NetGalley team attended the Audio Publishers Association Conference (APAC), London Book Fair, Festival des Livres Paris (Paris Book Festival), Leipziger Buchmesse (Leipzig Book Fair), and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) annual meeting. This month (May), we—along with our Firebrand Group colleagues—look forward to the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Publishing University, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) Leadership Summit, and Publishers Weekly U.S. Book Show. Scroll to the end of this article to set up a meeting with our teams!

What we learned in April

In general, AI was the hot topic in sessions across the industry. As with the evolution of digital-reading, publishers are viewing AI with eyes wide open to the threats that it could present, while also acknowledging the potential for it to revolutionize our work. Conversations on how to protect authors’ rights, address copyright for works generated by AI, and ensure that human creativity sits at the forefront of book creation are side-by-side with excitement to tap into AI’s potential to reduce tedious work and create more opportunities for that creativity to thrive.

Audio Publishers Association Conference (APAC): 

The Audio Publishers Association offers publishers and narrators an amazing opportunity to network, learn from industry experts in the audio space, and share insights and resources. For NetGalley, this event was a welcome chance to hear directly from our clients who are using NetGalley to promote audiobooks.  

Publishers told us that they are thrilled to use NetGalley to expand their reach into new communities, and/or offer the audio format to booksellers and librarians who are using audio to more quickly power through their TBR list. Others emphasized they are looking to reach more traditional media contacts. In the “Meet the Press” session, Tom Beer (Editor-in-Chief, Kirkus Reviews) acknowledged that they have been accepting digital formats for review since 2020, including via widgets from NetGalley.* According to Beer, the audiobook format is relatively new to Kirkus. Each month their audio contributors write a column, centered on a theme, that incorporates three audiobook titles. These columns are less “book review” and more focused on the given topic, and how the audio format augments the story.

All of the panelists (Kirkus, Audiofile Magazine, and Audible) agreed that additional media assets are very welcome from publishers. A photo from the studio, a carefully chosen sound byte, interview with the author (or between the author and the narrator) are all dynamic and interesting assets they may use outside of a review. They’re always looking for content to share, so the more you provide the more likely it is they will share it widely! Audio excerpts in NetGalley are also a great way to generate interest in a title, adding them to either the digital or audio format.

Publishers confirmed audiobook workflows continue to be challenging. Many of the clients we spoke with have small teams who are managing everything from production to marketing. They are driving conversations internally at their companies about how to streamline their efforts to finalize files earlier, test AI voices without threatening narrators, deliver content to the right early audiences, and continue to champion the audiobook format. If you’re having similar internal conversations and would like to talk more about how NetGalley can help you achieve any of these goals, please reach out. We’re happy to provide data or case studies, and share strategies we’ve seen work.

Number of publishers we sat down with during APAC: 11

*The NetGalley widget is an auto-approved link that can be used to invite media and journalists to access a book right away. Here’s more information about the NetGalley widget.

Thank you to the nearly 60 publishers we’ve met with at these conferences! It’s always a pleasure to speak with the passionate members of our client community, and we’ve been inspired by our conversations. 

Read our next installment, covering the London Book Fair!

Find us here in May:

  • May 5-6: IBPA Publishing University
    • Meet with Kristina Radke (VP of Business Growth & Engagement) and Katie Versluis (Customer Success Manager), NetGalley
    • concierge [at]
  • May 9-10: ECPA Leadership Summit
    • Meet with Joshua Tallent, Director of Sales and Education, Firebrand Technologies
    • info [at]
  • May 23-25: Publishers Weekly U.S. Book Show
    • We are thrilled to sponsor this event. Find us at the NetGalley Pub Hub!


Audio Publishers Association Webinar: The Future of Audiobooks

Presented November 10, 2021

Let’s examine where professionals from different areas of the audiobook industry see us being in the next 3-5 years. We will ask specialists in the areas of production, consumer sales, independent authors, to forecast the future. Joining us are Kevin Fecu of John Marshall Media, Darren Speers of Authors Republic, and Tarah Theoret of NetGalley.

Watch the webinar here.

The Future of Audiobooks Webinar

The ability to consume more, faster, while multi-tasking will continue to help with consumers, but also book reviewing of all formats. We’ve heard anecdotally from reviewers that they specifically request books in the audio format because they know they’ll be able to listen to it faster and sooner, and fit it into their schedule… this quick turnaround helps ensure that the marketplace is already being populated with early enthusiasm for this format specifically, which will boost pre-orders and sales. 

– Tarah Theoret, Senior Director, Community Engagement at NetGalley

Visit the Audio Publishers Association at

Formed in 1986, the Audio Publishers Association (APA) is a not-for-profit trade association that advocates the common, collective business interests of audio publishers. The APA consists of audio publishing companies and suppliers, distributors, and retailers of spoken word products and allied fields related to the production, distribution, and sale of audiobooks.