WHEN Michael Lewis had an idea for his next book, a contemporary political narrative, he decided he would test it out first as a 10,000 - word magazine article, as he often does before committing to  a year long project.

But this time he made a surprising pivot. Instead of publishing the story in Vanity Fair, where he has been a contributing writer for nearly a decade, he sold it to the  Audible, the audibook publisher and retailer.

"You're not going to be able to read it, you're only going to be able to listen to it," Mr. Lewis said.  "I've become Audible's first magazine writer."

Mr. Lewis - arguable one of the  most successful nonfiction writers working today, with book sales topping 10 million copies - is betting Audible will expand his audience and draw even more people to his work.

Just some months ago, he signed a multi-year contract with Audible for four audio original stories, with the first scheduled to come out in July. Mr. Lewis, who wouldn't reveal further details about the story, plans  to narrate it himself.

Mr. Lewis is a part of a growing group of A-list  authors bypassing  print and releasing  audiobook originals, hoping to take advantage of the  exploding  audiobook market. It's the latest sign that audiobooks are no longer an appendage of print, but a  creative medium in their own right.

But the rise of  stand-alone  audio has also made some traditional publishers nervous, as Audible strikes deals directly with writers, including best selling authors like the  historian  Robert Caro and the  novelist Jeffery Deaver.

After several years of stagnation in the  industry, audiobooks have become a rare bright spot for publishers.

While  e-book  sales have fallen and print has remained anemic, publishers 'revenue for downloaded  audio  has nearly tripled in the last five years, industry data from the Association of American Publishers  shows.

This has set off a new turf war over audio rights, putting Audible, owned by Amazon, against traditional publishers, who are increasingly insisting on producing  their own audiobook's, wary of ceding more territory and revenue to the  online retailer.

The Honor and Serving of the latest Global Operational Research on Trends, Audibooks and Print continues. The World Students Society thanks author and researcher Alexandra Alter.


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