Episodic Listening: Analyzing the Content and Usage of Born-Audio Serial Narratives

Following a ‘boom’ in audiobook consumption, recent years have seen the emergence of born-audio literature: narratives written specifically for the audiobook format. The article focuses on the content and usage of born-audio serial narratives produced by the Swedish audiobook subscription service, Storytel. As these so-called Storytel Originals are produced specifically for the audiobook format, they make a good case for studying how the format influences the narrative content as well as the usage of literary texts. The serial publishing format becomes especially relevant within the subscription-based context because it, ideally, encourages users’ long-term commitment to the story – and to the service. Accordingly, it becomes relevant to investigate how Storytel uses the serial narrative format to attract and maintain the users’ attention. By combining literary analyses of selected Originals stories with quantitative analyses of statistical data on listening behaviour in relation to these series, we examine the connection between the narrative content of series in different genres and the users’ loyalty towards the series. Thus, we focus on the following research questions: How does the born-audio serial format shape the narrative content and usage of the Originals series, and to what extent does it promote user loyalty?

Keyworks: digital audiobooks, seriality, listening patterns, new forms of reading, born-audio fiction.

Episodic Listening: Analyzing the Content and Usage of Born-Audio Serial Narratives

Following a ‘boom’ in audiobook consumption, recent years have seen the emergence of born-audio literature: narratives written specifically for the audiobook format. The article focuses on the content and usage of born-audio serial narratives produced by the Swedish audiobook subscription service, Storytel. As these so-called Storytel Originals are produced specifically for the audiobook format, they make a good case for studying how the format influences the narrative content as well as the usage of literary texts. The serial publishing format becomes especially relevant within the subscription-based context because it, ideally, encourages users’ long-term commitment to the story – and to the service. Accordingly, it becomes relevant to investigate how Storytel uses the serial narrative format to attract and maintain the users’ attention. By combining literary analyses of selected Originals stories with quantitative analyses of statistical data on listening behaviour in relation to these series, we examine the connection between the narrative content of series in different genres and the users’ loyalty towards the series. Thus, we focus on the following research questions: How does the born-audio serial format shape the narrative content and usage of the Originals series, and to what extent does it promote user loyalty?

Keyworks: digital audiobooks, seriality, listening patterns, new forms of reading, born-audio fiction.