The NAB Blog

Naxos AudioBooks Celebrates 25 Years

By Anthony Anderson

22 May 2019

This year sees the 25th anniversary of the inception of Naxos AudioBooks.

The company was founded in 1994 by Klaus Heymann, founder and Chairman of the Naxos Music Group, and journalist Nicolas Soames. Its initial aim was to release recordings of classic literature on cassette and, unusually at the time, CD. Given the limitations of these physical formats most books were recorded in abridged format and often included carefully chosen excerpts from Naxos’s extensive catalogue of classical music recordings.

There will undoubtedly be many changes in the market over the coming 25 years

In recent years the audiobook market has boomed  – with double-digit growth in each of the last six years. The predominance of digital formats and platforms such as the Amazon-owned Audible has been a part of the remarkable growth in spoken word consumption. Over the past decade most of our recordings have been in unabridged form, with hundreds of hours of new content being released each year. Recent releases have included Samuel Richardson’s epistolary novel Clarissa (102 hours), the autobiography of Venetian libertine Giacomo Casanova (126 hours), and The Diary of Samuel Pepys (116 hours).

Our original focus was largely on mainstream classic fiction, including the novels of Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens. However, the list soon broadened to include non-fiction, poetry and drama. The catalogue, 950 titles strong, now includes many copyrighted texts – another development from the early days of recording only literature that was in the public domain – and a number of texts specially commissioned by the label.

A plethora of household names can be found on Naxos AudioBooks recordings, including Juliet Stevenson, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Sheen, Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Derek Jacobi, Simon Russell Beale, David Timson, Anton Lesser, Dame Siân Phillips, Bernard Cribbins, Alex Jennings and the late Paul Scofield and Neville Jason.

Ulysses (unabridged)Regular bestsellers include James Joyce’s Ulysses, Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, and Bertrand Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy.

There will undoubtedly be many changes in the market over the coming 25 years – many with technology at the heart of them. However, the core of what we do will remain unchanged, albeit with new directions along the way.

As a reminder of our first 25 years, please take a look at our highlights showreel video.

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