Findaway World was founded back in 2006 with the aim of selling MP3 players preloaded with audiobooks. (One of its more noteworthy customers: The US Army.) Today, the company is kicking off a new digital strategy in earnest with the launch of its AudioEngine.
Findaway World isn’t trying to compete directly with an audiobook store like Audible, said co-founder and CEO Mitch Kroll. Instead, through the AudioEngine SDK and API, it’s trying to bring audiobooks to a variety of existing online stores and services.
Ralph Lazaro, vice president of Findaway’s digital products group, said that the company attempted previously to build custom audiobook apps, but it “quickly realized audiobooks are very much a complementary experience” with other digital content.
For the brands that Findaway was building apps for, the audiobooks became just another app to worry about. And if the audiobook market is going to grow (that’s what Kroll and Lazaro say is already happening, with lots of future potential thanks to the explosion of smartphones, e-books, and podcasts), Findaway needs to change consumer behavior. Lazaro said the best way to do that is to display audiobooks alongside e-books, or music, and other content.
“We believe that there is an opportunity because of how we built the platform,” he added. “That opportunity goes from the biggest sellers of digital content that we all know, to someone who’s just trying to start a store and add audiobooks to that catalog. We can service all of that.”
AudioEngine takes audio content from publishers, then takes steps like dividing it into chapters to make the content “digestible to consumers on different types of devices,” he said. It then has permission to sell the resulting audiobooks to partners — the content is sold at a set rate (which includes a payment to the publishers and a percentage for Findaway), then those partners can monetize it however they wish, whether that’s by selling audiobooks one at a time, charging a subscription fee for access, or anything else.
Kroll said that the integrations can happen relatively quickly, with partners launching their AudioEngine-powered services in 60 days. The companies that have already integrated include 3M (for its Cloud Library), Mackin (MackinVia), Baker & Taylor (Acoustik), and Follet (Catalist Digital).
Findaway says that its library now includes more than 50,000 audiobooks.