News & Announcements

The New York Times ran a front-page story on Sunday, June 3, on the expanding range of writers — novelists, journalists, playwrights, screen writers, comedians — writing to the Audible listening aesthetic and conveying their powerfully performed words to Audible’s millions of listeners.

When Michael Lewis had an idea for his next book, a contemporary political narrative, he decided he would test it out first as a 10,000-word magazine article, as he often does before committing to a yearslong project.

But this time he made a surprising pivot. Instead of publishing the story in Vanity Fair, where he has been a contributing writer for nearly a decade, he sold it to Audible, the audiobook publisher and retailer.

“You’re not going to be able to read it, you’re only going to be able to listen to it,” Mr. Lewis said. “I’ve become Audible’s first magazine writer.”

Mr. Lewis — arguably one of the most successful nonfiction writers working today, with book sales topping 10 million copies — is betting Audible will expand his audience and draw even more people to his work. Last month, he signed a multiyear contract with Audible for four audio original stories, with the first scheduled to come out in July. Mr. Lewis, who wouldn’t reveal further details about the story, plans to narrate it himself.

It quotes Don as saying: “We’re scripting to this new aesthetic. This wasn’t a full fledged media category before, it was a tiny little Siberia stuck in book publishing, and it shouldn’t have been.”

Don and Gov. Phil Murphy delivered keynote addresses at a policy forum centered on how New Jersey can drive economic growth in its cities by attracting high-growth tech companies and tech talent.

Don said at the April 30 event at NJPAC:

We can indeed work together to redirect the collective genius of the state’s leaders and institutions and become better at targeting billions of dollars of public investment. We can stop the instinct to look backwards, to sustain the entrenched and the status quo, or at least stop looking sideways, as this has kept innovation, new job creation, taxable revenue and equality idling versus coursing forward in our state for too long.

We can get best practices from the cutting edge all over the world. We can create a new consensus around big visions and new action plans. All of this can change the state’s narrative for the better. And we can surely usher in what this talented governor has called “new businesses working at the cutting edge of innovation.”

Watch the NJTV clip below for more.

In an interview with Business Insider’s podcast “Success! How I Did It,” Don discusses his time as a foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone in the ’70s, Audible’s founding and early days, the relationship with Amazon and his commitment to Newark.

My whole thing was: “What do these things mean, as opposed to what they do?” The Rolling Stone idea was you’d get close to, as I did, to terrorists, or to people throughout the ’70s who were fighting wars of liberation, willing to die for a cause. What was it like to have that happen? Then when I wrote books about business — and I wrote a book about Sears, a 600-page tome; I wrote a book about Nike. I asked: What do these companies mean to all the constituents around them and to the culture in general?

I think that allowed Audible to grow up as a company that was really consistent about opening up opportunities to consumers in particular. This weirdness of customer centricity is what I bonded with Jeff Bezos on, where you really are working backwards from a different idea. How can you actually import something profound to people, because of the power of an organization, as opposed to measuring yourself in dollars and cents or just permutations on a theme?

Listen to it below and see the full transcript here.

“Harry Clarke,” the one-man show starring Tony winner Billy Crudup and produced by Audible, opened at the Minetta Lane Theatre on Sunday, March 18.

The highly acclaimed production, written by David Cale, had a limited run in late 2017 at the Vineyard Theater, and Audible is extending its run at the Minetta Lane Theatre. Audible is also offering the play, written by playwright David Cale, as a downloadable audio program, making it available to Audible’s millions of customers — one part of a larger effort to project outstanding dramatic performances beyond the stage.

“I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with a play that smart and that intense,” Don told The New York Times in a Feb. 14 story.

Don and actor Billy Crudup

Nine tech startups took to a stage on the ice at the Prudential Center for Newark Venture Partners’ third ever Demo Day to present their businesses — and showcase the progress the venture fund has made in bringing exciting companies to join Audible in boosting Newark’s tech ecosystem.

The companies presenting on Jan. 17 were among 40 that the venture fund and accelerator has invested in since its 2016 launch, and include an AI-powered contact center and a startup turning food waste into new products.

“In just a couple of years, to have come this far — to have seen an idea flourish so far beyond my reasonable expectations — is personally gratifying,” Don, NVP’s founder, said at the event.

Watch NJTV’s story for more.

Don was honored alongside Tina Fey at the New York Stage and Film’s annual gala on Dec. 5 at Pier 60, with the organization’s artistic director crediting Don with “providing vital support for playwrights through Audible’s recent expansion into the theater world.”

Actress Dana Delany said in introducing Don at the gala, “He basically has created an entire new industry for writers and actors. … It’s not just stars that are doing it — yes, they have big stars doing it — but it’s working actors that are doing it.”

Read HuffPost for more.

Don spoke at the ribbon-cutting for Barcade, across the street from Audible’s headquarters, along with Mayor Ras Baraka and others. Don said the bar and arcade, already a hit with Audible employees, is one of the many exciting new places to play coming on line in in the Washington Park District, which is turning into a 24-7 neighborhood with new places to live and play.

Read Patch for the story.

Celebrating 20 years since the launch of the Audible service and 10 years of being headquartered in Newark, Audible is providing all 15,000 or so Newark high school students and teachers a year of Audible membership, more than 150 titles identified by Newark educators and Audible experts, a Fire 7-inch tablet and headphones.

“Audible is a better company and a better place to work because of our decision to move to Newark ten years ago and include so many Newark high school and college students and Newark-born and educated people as our paid interns and employees,” Don said in the news release. “As our interns who get free access to Audible memberships already know, students, parents, and teachers consistently tell us how powerfully listening to Audible has made a difference – whether it engenders a lasting love of stories, builds active vocabulary, helps with academics, or simply allows people to fit more books into their lives.”

The initiative, called Project Listen Up, launched with a special event at Technology High School in the North Ward on Nov. 29. Read about the event and view photos in ROI-NJ.

 

Don received the inaugural Founders Award at NJPAC’s 20-year anniversary celebration for his commitment to Newark’s revitalization, including moving Audible to the city in 2007 and launching Newark Venture Partners to catalyze the city’s tech ecosystem.

Don was introduced by NJPAC’s founding chair and philanthropist Ray Chambers before more than 1,000 guests at the gala in late September. In his speech, Don urged the audience to move their companies to Newark, back local businesses or invest in NVP.

“I continually celebrate moving Audible to Newark ten years ago as one of the best decisions we made as a company — over a history that included many near-death experiences early on, to today’s reality of a level of growth at scale that has exceeded my dreams,” Don said. “We came here hoping to find out what a company can mean in ways that can transcend what it does.”

Read more about the event on NJPAC’s website.

Elisabeth Moss performed a passage from Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” at Toronto’s Union Station last week to mark the launch of audible.ca, Audible’s dedicated service for Canadians that elevates Canadian voices and listeners.

“We’ll be working with Canada’s incredibly vibrant Can-Lit community,” Don said. “We work daily to support the professional creative class wherever we go.”

The website offers a selection of more than 300,000 titles, including more than 100 new titles from Canadian authors in English and French. For one month, Canadian listeners are receiving free access to Audible’s special edition of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” narrated by Claire Danes and including material Atwood wrote exclusively for Audible, and Catherine Leroux’s Quebecois novel “Le Mur Mitoyen,” performed by Julie Le Breton.

“Audible is giving performers opportunities to lend their voices to some of the greatest stories in the world and expose the ideas and words of authors to entirely new audiences,” Moss said.

The launch also included an event at Montreal’s Gare Centrale, where Le Breton read from Leroux’s book.

Read more in CBC News.