Exclusive Interview with Executive Director of the APA





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Please Welcome Michele Cobb Executive Director of the The Audio Publishers Association (APA).









*Explain your role as executive director of the APA.

My primary function is to forward the strategic mission of the Audio Publishers Association. I support the board and committees and work with our headquarters staff to consistently improve the offerings of the association. I often act as the voice for the organization – representing us at conferences, for instance.



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*What do audiobooks mean to you personally?

I began my work life as a traveling theatre director who many weeks drove over 1000 miles, so audiobooks became important; my touring partner and I could only talk so much. As a lifelong reader audiobooks allow me to keep up a high level of reading even when I’m spending lots of hours in the car or dealing with household chores. I love hearing the interpretation of the text by the narrators. I’m much more adventurous with my ears than with my eyes so audiobooks have also helped me expand my reading horizons.



“I’m much more adventurous with my ears than with my eyes so audiobooks have also helped me expand my reading horizons.”-Michele Cobb




*What’s the best part of your job?

Interacting with all our members – we are a tight-knit, fun group who works together well and supports each other. It’s a wonderful family of dedicated people.



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*How does the APA advocate for success, awareness, and acceleration of the audiobook industry?

We do large marketing campaigns such as the AudiobookMobile and A Good Audiobook Speaks Volumes #loveaudiobooks video campaign

Our Sound Learning initiative advocates for audiobooks in the literacy cycle with videos, lists, and lesson plans for teachers, parents, and librarians https://www.audiopub.org/education/sound-learning

We conduct industry research and publicize the results to demonstrate the growing interest in the format. We also raise awareness with The Audies Competition and Gala that highlight the high quality of our members’ work. We educate with ongoing webinars and our annual Audio Publishers Association Conference (APAC).



*What is the relationship between the APA and audio publishing companies?

We are the voice of the industry as a whole; we advocate for our publisher members and help provide them with research and information that assist them in finding success.



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*What are your favorite audiobooks and what do you enjoy about them?

I’ve been enjoying some fun celebrity autobiographies recently. I’m a huge fan of thrillers and I don’t mind them bloody. My all-time favorite is Blindness by Jose Saramago narrated by Jonathan Davis, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible with a full cast headlined by Stacy Keach and Richard Dreyfuss, Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series including The Golden Compass, and the BBC dramatization of Lord of the Rings which I listened to while driving through a lightning storm in Wyoming. Stunning visual and audio combination there.












*Is there one particular area that’s more successful in helping the audio industry?

Our research is extremely important for helping understand trends and consumer behavior which help drive business decisions.


*Name a few of technologies that have transformed the industry. Any new and emerging ones?

Home studios and editing software, electronic manuscripts, the ipod, the smart phone, digital audio files.




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*How are narrators found? Are they freelancers, or do they have contracts?

Narrators have websites, listings in places like on AudioFile Magazine’s Talent & Industry Guide, and submit demos to publishers and producers. In general narrators are hired for a single title or a series of titles.


*How does the Association employ networking?

In addition to our yearly conference, we host Member Socials across the country each year. Members come together in a relaxed setting and have a chance to connect.




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*Name some of the educational and informational opportunities available at the APA.

APAC – coming up on May 31, 2017, in NYC. Our 2017 keynote speaker will be Tom Webster from Edison Research talking about our upcoming consumer survey. We also hold webinars every few months on a wide variety of topics.


*What are the biggest challenges preventing the success, growth and awareness of audiobooks?

These days there are a plethora of entertainment options for consumers –  our challenge is how do we capture the time and attention of existing and potential listeners against the growing options in streaming and app content available today.





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*What’s new or upcoming with the APA?

In January 2017 we are moving our main office to NYC and updating our member system to be more flexible and user-friendly for the staff, the board, and the membership. It’s a stressful time as we make the change but we are excited to be able to be more efficient and more responsive to our members.


*Other than being consumers, how can we be involved?

We, of course, always encourage APA membership and then joining a committee. The community is really special and so much of the work is done by volunteers – it’s amazing. We appreciate all the volunteers immensely and we always need more.




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*Anything else you’d like to say to the community?

Thanks for listening!









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Michele Cobb, Executive Director – Audio Publishers Association


Cell: 401-354-9100







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