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Saturday, Jun 3, 2023

Breathing Life Into Textbooks

For college students, the fall semester has drawn to a close, along with dreaded finals week. But some of the sleep-deprived had an edge: audio textbooks. Why add the tedious task of reading to your schedule when you can listen to someone else read instead? Indeed, that was the thought that occurred to actress Renee Raudman in 2006 when she started a second career narrating audiobooks. “A lot of people are auditory learners,” said Raudman, 51. “I do believe that this is the wave of the future.” Now, seven years later, Raudman has a North Hills company called Too Little Time that provides narration not only fiction, but audio textbooks for universities. Raudman, who contracts with several voice-over artists to assist her, has narrated hundreds of fiction titles for publishing clients, including Random House Audio, a unit of New York’s Random House, and Brilliance Audio in Grand Haven, Mich. She is well-known for her narration of the “Kate Daniels” series of fantasy novels written by Ilona and Gordon Andrews and published by Recorded Books in Prince Federick, Md. But now the fastest segment of her business is in audio textbooks. For the past four years Raudman has partnered with Bridgepoint Education, a San Diego company that provides services to universities to record audio textbooks and supplemental course materials for students. “We find that they (students) really like it, primarily the auditory learners who like to read and hear at the same time,” said Steve Wainwright, editor of Bridgepoint, who works with Raudman’s company to produce audio work. Raudman has narrated more than 100 textbooks for Bridgepoint, from literature to cultural anthropology. Meg Walker, president of the Audio Publishers Association, a Princeton Junction, N.J. trade group, said that hard data is not available on audio textbook sales. But there is no doubt that audiobooks are being published in more fields. “On the whole, the business is showing impressive growth which is likely attributable to the ease of use the variety of audio formats affords,” she said. Raudman declined to release specific revenue figures but said she plans to continue expanding her audio textbook business, which is not only profitable but personally satisfying. “I still have an entrepreneurial spirit in me,” she said. “I love producing something that I believe will be very beneficial to future students and online education.” – Champaign Williams

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