Is Fabio heading for podcast cover art? Maybe not, but the titles produced by a new partnership from Audio Up and the romance book publisher Harlequin is something to watch for. Audio Up has signed a deal to adapt 52 of Harlequin’s most popular titles into scripted audio entertainment.
The podcast series will be curated and adapted by Audio Up's Chief Creative Officer Jimmy Jellinek. “By unlocking stories from their wildly popular Montana Mavericks series and books like Rogue Stallion, we’re creating an entire Harlequin Audio Universe that will do for podcasting what ‘Yellowstone’ has done for cable television,” Jellinek said. “There are tens of millions of listeners out there who have never heard a podcast before who will tune in to hear these stories and only these stories.”
In recent years, Harlequin has also expanded from books to other media platforms, including television and film, in partnership with production company Centinel Media which will also be part of the team creating the podcasts.
“Harlequin is the world’s largest romance publisher, selling two books every second worldwide.
We’re expanding into additional formats to bring the uplifting and entertaining stories Harlequin is known for to new audiences and current fans,” Harlequin Executive VP/Publisher Brent Lewis said in a statement. “This collaboration with Audio Up and Centinel Media presents the perfect opportunity to enhance our brand by reaching out to podcast listeners,” he said.
Audio Up may be best known for its efforts to bring music-based stories to podcasting, but it has also worked in the book adaptation space. Last year it released Strawberry Spring, an adaptation of a Stephen King novel, and it is currently working on a new podcast called American Tabloid, which is adapted from the bestselling James Ellroy novel. Audio Up also recently announced partnerships with authors Bret Easton Ellis and Irvine Welsh to produce The Reckonings.
“We see this as a watershed moment for Audio Up,” said Audio Up CEO Jared Gutstadt. “With these partners, we can fully take advantage of the massive and devoted audience funnel that Harlequin provides. Simply put this is the largest scale book IP to podcast adaptation of all time. To my knowledge no one has ever taken on a catalogue of this scope and size all at once.”
Centinel Media CEO Craig Cegielski is responsible for this development and he will also help curate stories for podcast dramatization. He and Gutstadt will be producers of the series with Audio Up President David Thwaites and executive producers Brad Pelman and Phil Alberstat also part of the team.
“With the rise of the smart homes, smart speakers, and smart cars, the world of audio is expanding like never before. People want to live with their stories in a much more ubiquitous way,” Gutstadt said. “Spotify has recently made massive inroads going from podcasts to audiobooks, and we are seeing an insatiable demand for premium content. This is a sweet spot for us.”