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Got Audiobook? Audible CEO Katz on the Rewards of Listening to Literature

Since introducing one of the first digital audio players in 1997, Audible (now owned by Amazon) has become the biggest name in audiobooks. “It really is seen as a service now,” says Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz of the surging audiobook phenomenon. We spoke to Katz at the recent Venture for America Summer Celebration in NYC. He ticked off some of the benefits enjoyed by the growing legions of audiobook consumers: “They get to work smarter than the guy in the next cube; they have storytelling in their lives on a consistent basis.” Most importantly, he said, they’ve found a valuable way to spend the millions of hour per week Americans spend in traffic. Technologies like Whispersync for Voice, an Amazon offering created by Audible, allows users to toggle seamlessly between reading a book on their Kindle and listening to it in their car. “It has created these power readers who are just racing through books,” said Katz, who appears to have an unshakeable faith in the transformational powers of the medium. According to Katz, “you would have a more interesting life, a more enriched life, a more successful economic life, you get more dates, if you read some more books.” On top of a fatter wallet and a busier love life, audiobooks bring you performances by the best actors in the world, who “have elevated the form.” No wonder the average Audible member goes through about 18 books a year.

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