“Can we talk about how Audible might be able to help?”
This question, posed by a school librarian in Dubai, was sent to Audible CEO Bob Carrigan via Twitter on March 7. The librarian was referring to impending school closures due to Covid-19, preparing for ways to help students who would be at home and unmoored from their daily routines indefinitely.
That one tweet, explains Chrissy App, Director of Program Management for the Office of the CEO, “set things in motion.” It came on the last day most Audible employees were in the office, but by the end of the day an ambitious plan was in place to create a free library of stories to meet the needs of people around the world—with titles that ranged from education to entertainment to distraction to inspiring hope.
Just 10 days later, Audible Stories was live, and now, with titles in eight languages, people in almost every country in the world from Kenya to Saudi Arabia to Colombia to Taiwan to Argentina have been transported by audio storytelling.
A cross-functional, global team of 100 employees worked long hours during those 10 days. “We were all so passionate about this. We knew this could be a bright spot. It was the epitome of move fast to make it real,” Chrissy says, referring to Audible’s People Principle of the same name.
“Our teams worldwide not only immediately understood the purpose of the initiative but were also willing to go above and beyond to make it real,” agrees Eloïse Elandaloussi, Global Content Acquisition & Development Director. But how did we get there?
Leveraging the technology architecture behind Audible for Business, our B2B offering for teams of every size, was a crucial step. It allowed anyone to start listening without any type of login, membership, or purchase—all someone needed was an internet connection. Going for quality titles, our editorial team curated thousands of gems in six languages to start, with stories for toddlers to teens.
Since launch, Audible Stories continues to grow. In April, we added the first Harry Potter book as part of the Harry Potter at Home initiative, expanded our language offerings to eight including titles in Portuguese and Dutch, and added a filter to divide Spanish titles into different dialects and accents: Acento latino neutral and Acento castellano.
“It is very rewarding to see the global usage grow daily and the site improve as we keep adding more content and languages,” says Eloïse.
Audible Stories is “the ultimate expression” of our Activate Caring People Principle at global proportions, says Chrissy. “We were so lucky to be given a mandate like this, to deliver the power of stories to kids and families around the globe without any barriers to entry beyond an internet connection and a device.”