Founded in November 1998 with the mission of bringing a wider selection of unabridged audiobook titles to the UK market, the Leicestershire-based company has become the top audiobook publisher in the UK.
The company has published some of the global book industry’s most illustrious titles—including Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy and Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series—and is the audio publisher of choice for thousands of acclaimed authors, such as Val MacDermid, Marian Keyes, Dan Jones, Diana Gabaldon, Danielle Steel, and V.E. Schwabb.
Starting out with a team of two in the small village of Rothley, W.F. Howes now employs 35 team members operating out of its large premises in Rearsby. Over the last 25 years, the company has published more than 6,500 audiobooks, while its global parent company, RBmedia, boasts a 60,000+ strong catalogue, the largest collection of audiobooks in the world.
Miles Stevens-Hoare, Managing Director at W.F. Howes, said: “W.F. Howes published its first unabridged audiobook in September 1999 titled ‘Possession’ by Booker Prize-winning author A.S. Byatt—consisting of 16 cassette tapes and priced at £52.95. To say the audiobook market has come a long way since then would be a massive understatement. Fast forward 25 years since our inception, and audiobooks are now more innovative, accessible, affordable, and in-demand than ever before.”
Launching at a time when very few audiobooks were being published, W.F. Howes set about driving the mass market appeal of audio by dramatically expanding the range of titles being made available to listeners across multiple genres. The company invested heavily in top-quality production with state-of-the-art studio facilities and expert production staff, while sparking innovation across the retail and library markets.
Hoare continued, “The company has much to be proud of in terms of our heritage in audio and how we have navigated years of disruption and innovation to claim such a strong position in the market. But it also feels like our story is only just beginning. Having played such an integral role in the growth of the audiobook category over the years, we are looking forward to continue being a key player in its ongoing evolution while doing everything in our power to unlock audio’s limitless potential.”