JANET BENSON: inspired by the customer
I met Janet when she was president of the Audiobook Publisher’s Association (APA) and saw her speak at my very first APA Conference. I was very impressed with her passion for the industry then, as I am now.
KW: What is your job title and what are your responsibilities?
JB: Vice President at Audio Editions, an audiobook retailer (via catalog and online at www.AudioEditions.com). I was also an audiobook publisher, until we sold that side of our business 5 years ago.
KW: Tell us about a typical day:
JB: I sell audiobooks, so most of my day is spent deciding which audiobooks to feature where – catalogs, online and in email.
KW: Can you describe your work zone for us?
JB: It’s a small-ish office over a large warehouse in small-town northern California (think foothills-of-mountains, not a beach setting).
KW: Who works near you and what do they do?
JB: Lots of great people who’ve been with our company for years. We specialize in real-person-on-the-phone customer service.
KW: How did you end up working in the audiobook industry?: In 1990 I moved to this town and found a local publisher (to my astonishment)… and learned about audiobooks.
KW: What is your dream job?
JB: It WAS to be a Shakespeare-only actress. Long ago. Now… what I do feels pretty dreamy!
KW: What was your major in college?
JB: A combination Theater/English Lit degree called “Perfomance Studies” at my alma mater, Northwestern (I’m a midwesterner).
KW: What do you love most about the work you do?
JB: We work with books – what could be better for a reader?
KW: Do you have a pet peeve?
JB: People who complain without trying to understand the other side’s point of view.
KW: Do you have a favorite audiobook/genre and/or author?
- audiobook: different favorites every year… loved Graveyard Book, The Help, and most recently a funny one, I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (read by Jayne Entwistle).
- genre: mostly fiction
- author: Louise Penny
KW: Do you have any stories to share:
JB: Here’s the story I tell would-be narrators, to demonstrate how little anyone can know about their ability to master audiobook narration. We recorded a title written by a college professor who was sure he could read his own book because he talked all day for a living. After an hour in the booth, having to start over every minute for a mis-speak or breath control or a cough, he realized how tough it was. We finished the project, but it wasn’t the funnest two days!
KW: What inspires you?
JB: Our customers inspire us every day. Their enthusiasm for audiobooks is unflagging. Also the privilege of being APA President for 2 years… the moment of standing at the Audies podium, welcoming everyone to an exciting evening… that’s inspiration, too. We work in a great industry filled with fascinating people.
KW: What you think audiobooks will be like in 10 years?
JB: The biggest change (and challenge) to come is how to combine e-book+audiobook into one item that has a price point that’s acceptable to consumers and sustainable for the author+narrator+publisher. Wish I had a crystal ball.
- My Audiobook Year ~ Audiobook Week Post #1 (literatehousewife.com)