by July 15, the group had secured audio rights to the title.
“I knew I wanted to listen to this on audio,” says Amanda
D’Acierno, senior v-p and publisher at Penguin Random
House Audio. D’Acierno says that a book recommendation by
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates “immediately piqued [her] in-
terest, both as a publisher and a consumer. But in addition to
my personal interest, business is a strong category for audio-
books, With so many businesspeople multitasking and travel-
ing, audiobooks work well with their lifestyle.”
To record the audiobook, PRH cast veteran narrator Johnny
Heller, who made his way to the publisher’s uptown studio by
July 21, less than a week after acquisition. The audiobook will
be available for download on August 19, with a CD edition to
follow on September 2, which, according to D’Acierno, sets a
new PRH Audio record for quickest turnaround time from dis-
covery to publication.
According to Heller, to complete the entire 17-hour recording, the production team spent more than 40 hours in the studio
over five days, forcing him to alter his prep-work routine. “Since
Penguin Random House Audio was working to wrap this recording as quickly as possible, I had much less time than usual
to prep,” notes Heller. “So it was a little difficult in that respect.
I have never narrated a single thing that I haven’t read beforehand. With the contracted schedule for this project, there were a
few late nights familiarizing myself with the material before my
first day in the studio.” He credits close cooperation with the
director Rich Harris and engineers Iris McElroy and Richie Ro-maniello as key to getting the production done in record time.
D’Acierno characterized the tandem publishing effort with
Open Road as “exciting,” adding that the two companies have
had a “great partnership” on all phases of the process.
“It’s a good to collaborate with Random House, because all
formats raise all formats,” says Friedman. “It’s nice to share the
Friedman continues, “Let’s not forget this is a book published
in 1969. [Open Road publisher] Tina Pohlman tells me that
was the year she was born. It certainly does show why I started
Open Road and that’s the mission in this case—to bring the
great back to life.” Speaking to teaming up with another com-
pany to fulfill that mission, Friedman called the end result a
“win-win everywhere.” ■
The essay collection went from rare and out of print to available in three formats in a matter of a month and a half: Open Road Media released an e-book on July 8,
House Audio will release an audiobook.
Before Gates touted the book, introduced to him by Warren
Buffett, in a July 11 essay in the Wall Street Journal, Open Road
was already in talks with Craig Tenney at Harold Ober Associates, literary agent for the Brooks estate, about two other titles
by the author, The Go Go Years and Once in Golconda. The agent
mentioned that there was a third work, a book of the New Yorker
writer’s essays on life in the financial and corporate worlds.
Open Road picked up print and digital rights to Business Adventures (digital rights alone were up for grabs on the other two
books), and a few weeks later, got the call that Gates would be
publicizing the book, long out of print, as the greatest of its kind.
The book quickly shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list,
and hit #2 on the New York Times e-book bestseller list. On
August 12, Open Road will be publishing the paperback version of Business Adventures, timed with the e-book releases of
the other two Brooks titles.
Tenney retained audio rights in the Open Road deal, and
Open Road founder and president Jane Friedman had an idea
about a good home for the audiobook. “Audio has always been a
big part of my life,” says Friedman, who also founded the Random House Audio Publishing Group, in 1985, and headed up
the unit until she left to become president and CEO of HarperCollins in 1997. “When I thought of my old stomping grounds,
I thought, that’s great,” she adds. Open Road connected the acquisitions team at PRH Audio with Tenney and the estate, and,
The Thrill of Bringing
‘Business Adventures’ to Audio
When Bill Gates recommended Business
Adventures, a 1969 essay collection by late
New York contributor John Brooks, as part of
his 2014 summer reading list, the Microsoft
founder called it “the best business book
ever,” but noted that it’s “not easy to find.”
Not any more.
➤BY CLARE SWANSON