News & Announcements

The recently released Audible edition of Don’s 1987 book on Sears, The Big Store, features a new introduction, written and performed by Don, reflecting on the lessons learned from his six years studying Sears falling from grace that have inspired and cautioned him at Audible along the way.

He writes:

Themes that have drawn students of corporate culture and leadership to The Big Store regularly since it was published in 1987 — including those seeking to avoid the pridefulness and myopia that can come with institutional success, which in turn diminishes a positively disruptive capacity to change and can kill the formative spirit that calls for invention before anyone asks for it — are very much alive in current popular discourse.

Don was interviewed about the The Big Store, which won the inaugural Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, on “CBS Sunday Morning” on Dec. 16, and an excerpt ran in USA Today on Jan. 11.

The Audible edition is available for free at audible.com/thebigstore.

Don was joined at the launch event for Audible’s India service on Nov. 13 at the Royal Opera House in Mumbai by Bollywood stars Radhika Apte, Rajkummar Rao and Kalki Koechlin, who perform “Mafia Queens of Mumbai,” and romance author Durjoy Dutta, who wrote the Audible Original “The Last Boy to Fall in Love.”

“Audible really exists to connect the best writers and actors, the best editors, the best directors and the best producers to the best listeners in the world,” Don said to the audience of journalists, customers and creators. “We work daily to support the professional creative class and we’re doing that in India and anywhere else we launch.”

Audible.in marks the company’s ninth digital storefront and brings Indian customers a selection of 200,000 audiobooks and original programs, including “Mafia Queens” and “The Last Boy to Fall in Love” as well as exclusive audio performances of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s greatest works, nutrition and wellness titles, Ruskin Bond’s autobiography and mythological stories by Amish.

Read more in The Hindu.

Vogue ran a glowing review of Audible’s production of Billy Crystal’s Have a Nice Day, starring Annette Bening, Dick Cavett, Auli’i Cravalho, Rachel Dratch, Darrell Hammond, Kevin Kline, Robin Thede and others. It had a two-day run at the Minetta Lane Theatre in early October and is being released on Audible on Nov. 1.

The production is the latest from Audible’s fruitful run with physical productions that would later become audio plays: June saw Carey Mulligan’s one-woman show,Girls & Boys, after its run at the Royal Court Theatre in London; Patti Smith: Words and Music at The Minetta Lane had a three-night run in late September; and Aasif Mandvi’s one-man show Sakina’s Restaurant opened October 5, and will run through November 4. In May 2017, Audible also announced a $5 million fund for emerging playwrights as part of their effort to both create more content for their platform and widen the reach of emerging talents; they will produce Chisa Hutchinson’s Proof of Love in late 2018. “To celebrate live performance in the theater is one thing, but think of professional sports,” Audible’s CEO, Don Katz, told The New York Times last year: “There’s the game, but it’s also being projected to millions of other people in a really powerful way.”

 

Don joined the New Jersey governor and the Berlin mayor at Berlin city hall on Oct. 19 as the governments pledged deeper cooperation between the startup ecosystems in Berlin and New Jersey, boosting Audible’s and Newark Venture Partners‘ efforts to catalyze urban renaissance through early-stage tech.

“We wouldn’t be here today without Don Katz from Audible,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said, referring to Audible’s leadership in crafting the New Jersey-Berlin innovation economy cooperation agreement and highlighting Audible’s growth in Berlin, from 12 people when Audible moved there 10 years ago to more than 200 today. Berlin Mayor Michael Müller thanked Don for Audible’s commitment to Berlin.

“The similarities between what is powering the comeback of Berlin and the comeback of a great city like Newark are really, really deep,” Don said at city hall.

Read more in ROI-NJ.

Photo by Sven Krohn

Don with Patti Smith and Bette Midler at the Minetta Lane Theatre on Sept. 23.

For three evenings beginning Sept. 22, Patti Smith delivered a special spoken-word and music performance at the Minetta Lane Theatre for Audible theater.

In the show program, Don wrote:

Patti Smith’s creative output is stunning and timeless, from her distinctive stream-of-consciousness style poetry to her trailblazing punk rock in the 1970s to her National Book Award-winning memoir and Audible best-seller, Just Kids. And it is fitting we are celebrating her in Greenwich Village, the neighborhood that has been at the center of her artistic life.

I’m thrilled to welcome you as Patti, joined by her son, daughter and longtime band member Tony Shanahan, shares original spoken-word stories from her life while weaving in the music of her beloved catalog.

The performance will be available to Audible members on Nov. 2.

Read Vogue‘s review.

Audible on Friday announced a new benefit for members — two Audible Originals a month — beyond the monthly credit. In a voice note, Don introduced the benefit:

Audible Originals are a new genre of shorter programming written directly to the intimate listening aesthetic of Audible — they are written by novelists, journalists, playwrights, screenwriters, comedians and other talented creators. The Originals are then delivered to you as the kinds of powerful performances by gifted actors that so many millions of listeners have come to expect of an Audible listening experience.

The first month’s selection of Originals includes Michael Lewis’ first Audible Original, “The Coming Storm”, and Carey Mulligan’s acclaimed performance of “Girls & Boys.”

Read more in The Verge.

 

The Los Angeles Times on July 9 wrote about Audible Theater, focusing on John Lithgow’s one-man performance of “Stories by Heart,” an Audible Original. Audible Theater engages writers and actors with new storytelling ideas, who deliver words and performances for the intimate storytelling experience of Audible.

The Times piece quotes Don as saying: “In a matter of seconds, more people can be listening to an Audible original than can pack a 1,000-seat theater eight times per week for half a century.”

The reach of Lithgow’s critically acclaimed show had been limited to the 740 seats of the American Airlines Theatre. The recent Audible release, however, instantaneously expanded the potential audience into the millions.

As part of what Audible calls a commitment to expanding the reach, scope and impact of theater, the company has claimed the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York’s Greenwich Village as its creative home for live performances. It has also been commissioning established and emerging playwrights to write one- and two-person shows to be performed as Audible Originals.

Participants in Audible’s theater lineup say Minetta Lane is the linchpin in a program that aims to forge a wholly modern frontier for theater, pairing an age-old art form with technology in a way that not only democratizes access but also encourages artists to approach theater in new ways.

In celebration of Pride Month, Audible hosted a storytelling event at the Minetta Lane Theatre on June 25 inspired by the Audible production “The Path to Pride with Lance Bass and Nikki Levy.” Performers on stage included Dan Savage, Patti Harrison and Matteo Lane.

The title is free for download until July 31. All proceeds from the event went to the Trevor Project.

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.