MICHELE COBB: Audiobooks as shared experience
JIAM2012 Behind the Scenes Interview #3
I’ve never met Michele, but she is the President of the Audiobook Publishers’ Association, so I had heard her name a great deal. And then last year, I was very impressed by the advice she gave during an APA member call on Social Networking, and her advice to “join the cocktail party” was inspiring to me last year, so I was eager to hear more from her.
KW: What is your job title and what are your responsibilities?
MC: VP – Sales and Marketing , AudioGO
One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that there really is not a typical day (although there is usually a meeting or two to attend). My days on the road visiting with customers are always memorable – interesting people to meet and share my enthusiasm for audiobooks with, crazy tales of travel drama and frequent stops for slurpees.
KW: How did you end up working in the audiobook industry?
MC: I majored in theatre and biology during college and went on to get a graduate degree in theatre. I actually discovered audiobooks while traveling as a children’s theatre director. Little did I know that years later I would answer an ad to sell live performance tickets for L.A. Theatre Works and quickly become immersed in the world of audio publishing.
KW: What do you love most about the work you do? And, do you have a pet peeve?
MC: The people – whether it’s librarians, teachers, booksellers, consumers, competitors, narrators or authors, I appreciate the passion that exists for this industry. Plus, AudioGO has a fantastic staff that I’m endlessly impressed by, pleased to interact with and constantly learning from.
My pet peeve: Meetings that run so long I go past the point of hunger and into physical and mental breakdown. As long as you feed me often I’m good, but I get pretty cranky when not regularly fueled. And, I admit to being a tad picky about what I eat – it’s got to be quality fuel. I will take charge of the food choices whenever possible in order to ensure I stay in the happy zone.
KW: Oh, I am with you on that. I have low blood sugar so I am always armed with snacks. Do you have a favorite literary genre?
MC: I’m a big fan of thrillers, though I’ve been on a celebrity autobiography kick lately. I’m also becoming a read-a-long aficionado thanks to my four year old.
KW: Any favorite audiobooks?
MC: Some of my favorite listens – Blindness by Jose Saramago – a dense, intense book with little punctuation in print form that was transformed for me by Jonathan Davis’ excellent narration.
Miles: The Autobiography – narrated by Dion Graham who truly inhabits the role. I had the pleasure of witnessing the performance and discussing Dion’s choices with him as we did the recording.
Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which she narrates, it was funny, relatable and just plain entertaining.
KW: Anything else you’d like to share?
MC: One of the things I love about audiobooks is that they allow stories to be a shared experience – whether it’s talking about horses with my daughter as we listen to Black Beauty for the 100th time on our commute to school/work, or a heated debate on a training trip with one of the AudioGO Library Reps about a character’s motivation in Karin Slaughter’s The Unremarkable Heart and Other Stories, audiobooks give you a chance to encounter a narrative as a group and I find wonderful discussions emerge from that.
My summer plans: Plotting how to leverage my current position as Audio Publishers Association President to get my favorite narrators to read my to-do lists every day. J