This is where you'd normally find a mission statement. But in keeping with the Audiobrary spirit of inquisitive discourse, here's a mock interview that gets to the heart of what it's about. Feel free to read or, of course, listen:

Interviewer: So, what... is Audiobrary?

Julia: In short, it’s an audio-based publishing company with its own app. It’s called Audiobrary because it’s a combination of my two favorite worlds: audio storytelling and libraries.

Interviewer: Okay, but there are other apps that have huge libraries of audiobooks. Besides your name, what makes you different?

Julia: You better take a seat. I'll make you a cup of tea. This is gonna take a while. Audiobrary isn’t going to have the same audiobooks every other platform offers. It’s going to have its own original audiobooks, as well as different kinds of unique audio projects. Going to Audiobrary is meant to give the listener an experience akin to how they felt going to their local library. Which was one of my favorite things to do growing up. It's kind of like Costco.

Interviewer: Costco? Really?

Julia: Yeah. I’ll explain. Have you ever gone to Costco for, like, two things? Let's say toilet paper and laundry detergent. But you get there and you walk past the coffee and you remember you're low on coffee? And then there's someone giving out samples of a surprisingly delicious quinoa chip. And the men's socks have a discount. And, hey, you can't leave without a chicken because — well, we all know about the chickens. And then you've finally made it past the checkout except one of those big hot dogs looks a little too tempting?

That's the way I used to feel as a kid at the library. I'd go in for, say, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, my favorite book, but a few books to the right of Avi was Judy Blume. And then a librarian would look at my stack and say, oh, do you like books about adventurous young women? Have you read Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede? Or are you interested in tall ships, maybe? How about Victorian England? And the next thing you know you're graduating from Middlebury College with a degree in English, History, and Creative Writing.

See? Just like the slippery slope of Costco.

Interviewer: Sure, I get it. Kind of. So now I know you went to college, and libraries, and Costco, but I really want to know more about you. Who is Julia Whelan?

Julia: Hang on, don’t drink your tea yet, it’s gotta steep. Okay, I’ll give you the bio version: A former child actor, screenwriter, bestselling novelist, and award-winning audiobook narrator of over 600 titles, she was dubbed the "Adele of Audiobooks" by The New Yorker and — sidebar — to belabor the analogy, Audiobrary is like if Adele started her own record label. Besides all the books she's recorded, and the three she's written, she was also Head of Production for Audm, an app for audio versions of long-form journalism, which was acquired by the New York Times and ultimately folded into the Times audio app.

Interviewer: Did you say that all in one breath?

Julia: Part of the training.

Interviewer: Impressive. But, honestly, I can read that about you anywhere. I’m more interested in what you have to say about yourself.

Julia: Hmm, okay. Well… I’ve been a reader since I was four. But when it comes to math, I’m glad they invented a calculator, and don't ask me anything about sports, sports teams, sport rules, or conferences, whatever those are. However! I was a deeply thoughtful and creative only child who experienced just about every educational system that exists: public, private, charter, home school, tutoring, on-set studio teaching, and independent study programs. I attended a small liberal arts college, a huge state school, and the best university in the world (it’s been ranked that way for almost a decade now, sorry Cambridge). I get physically ill if I don’t write for more than a week. I want to be a more joyful person and less cynical one but the state of the world continues to try me, and I’m a lover of all things History.

Interviewer: Thank you —

Julia: Actually, I wasn’t quite done.

Interviewer: Oh, sorry. I thought —

Julia: That's okay. Anyway, when it comes to history, I am insatiably curious. It was never enough for me to know what happened, I needed to know why. It really comes down to the people. Why they did what they did, said what they said, wrote what they wrote. So, in Audiobrary, there will be a section called Rabbit Hole. These will be expanded versions of Audiobrary content. They will take the listener down into the depths of specific audio projects. Just like a real library. Or Costco.

Your tea should be perfect now.

Interviewer: Oh, right. Thanks. So… you mentioned how important the why is to people and history and such. What's your why? Why are you creating Audiobrary?

Julia: Great question. How’s your tea?

Interviewer: Hot.

Julia: Fair. First, AI (Artificial Intelligence) continues to burrow its way into all our lives. In audio, specifically, we're seeing a boom in products created with synthetic voice or text-to-speech technology. And I’ve heard many doomsday predictions about its ultimate replacement of not just human storytelling, but human communication in its entirety. And as with so many things today, we are being forced to take sides. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Is it something to embrace or something to destroy?

I see this as a false binary. It’s a combative approach where I prefer a comparative one. Will the business change? Of course, as I believe all businesses will. Isn't that the inevitability of technology? In audio, there was once one mode of production and now there are two. Two seeming opposites. Which, when compared and contrasted, give us the value of paradoxical truth. And the truth is this: a synthetic voice does not a storyteller make. It is a replication meant to perfect the telling of the story but unable to be the storyteller. The value of the human voice is that it can't be perfect. In fact, it’s the very struggle that makes us human. Like a gymnast on the balance beam striving for a 10. Isn't that what makes us interesting? Imagine watching a robot perform an athletic feat. We would see it done perfectly but we would miss all the associated feelings of the attempt. No suspense, no uncertainty, no striving for the outcome. Maybe there should be an alternate AI. Actual Intelligence.

Interviewer: Fascinating. Seriously. But I want to know more about —

Julia: Audiobooks. Of course. Sorry, it’s just so interconnected that I can easily go on and on about this. Given my experience as a narrator, I’ve come to believe there is an important impact to a living voice that is missing from a replication of it. Much in the way a plastic plant, for all its uncomplicated and everlasting perfection, cannot do what a living plant does: be alive, in all its messy, suspenseful, hopeful, connective fragility. When cars were invented, horses didn’t just disappear; people still crave the connection they create with an animal to this very day. A century and a half after electricity blinked on in our lives, people still spend money on candles. Some folks swear by vinyl records even though — More tea?

Interviewer: Uh… what?

Julia: Would you like more tea?

Interviewer: Yeah. Sure.

Julia: Anyway, that's the first part of why Audiobrary: everything on here will be human authored and human voiced. But there is a second part to the why of Audiobrary, which is the part that's really near and dear to my heart.

Interviewer: Please.

Julia: I’ve worked in the arts my entire life. I've been an actress since I was a child, a writer for most of my adult years, and a narrator for over 15. I have many friends in all these fields and a number of friends in related arts. And there's one thing we all have in common. Guess.

Interviewer: Well, I would say you’re all creative people and maybe … uhh… you’re all wanting to communicate some kind of story?

Julia: Not bad. Maybe I should be interviewing you! That’s definitely true. Sadly, the one common thing is how pitifully they're paid for what they create compared to how much money is made by the companies that hawk it. I want Audiobrary to change the paradigm that has existed for far too long in the world of publishing. Which is that narrators, those people who are often the reason you choose to buy an audiobook in the first place, don't get any royalties from traditional publishers. They are paid a modest one-time fee for their performance and not a penny more, even if the book ends up being, oh let's say, Gone Girl. For years to come, long after most of this business has probably switched to using synthetic voices, they will still be selling the audiobooks we performed and will continue to make money off of them and we will not.

Interviewer: That's not fair. At all.

Julia: I agree. More than agree. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry with double-digit growth year over year and narrators see none of that success. I believe, we at Audiobrary believe, that this must change. So we will offer narrators a royalty share of the audiobooks we produce. We want to create partnerships between authors and narrators. We want them to help each other sell more product and to mutually benefit. Do you like the tea?

Interviewer: Yes. It’s quite delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever had this kind. What is it?

Julia: It’s a Lapsang. By the way, did you know I’m a tea sommelier?

Interviewer: No. Really? How did you —

Julia: ‘Nother interview. Anyhoo. Regarding the authors, when an audio project is published through Audiobrary, the author will benefit more, too. They will receive a higher percentage (by a lot) than what they would normally earn through a traditional publisher. Being an author and a narrator has made me very conscious of both sides. In my way of thinking, boosting the author/narrator partnership can make an audiobook that much more successful.

Interviewer: I think that's true. I have so many friends and colleagues that have said, "I'll listen to any book that Julia Whelan narrates."

Julia: Thank you. That's very nice. My belief is that with the support of listeners, we will be able to carve out a place for authors and narrators to thrive. I guess I’m living my own Field Of Dreams.

Interviewer: Last question: Just curious, why are audiobooks so expensive?

Julia: Good question to end on. I'll use a book for reference. Thank You For Listening — before you say it, yes, shameless plug — delves into some of the work that actually goes into the making of an audiobook. Each finished hour that you hear equates to about four to five hours of work for the narrator. Prepping, researching proper pronunciations, creating character voices, and of course, reading it into a microphone. Then it goes to an audio editor and proofer, who spend about twice as long doing their part. And then there’s the source material. What it takes for an author to put a story together that has moved us all to tears, laughter, and everything in between. And as a part of Audiobrary, the listener will be a direct participant in supporting storytelling as it has always been and, we believe, will continue to be.

Interviewer: Thank you for your time.

Julia: My pleasure. More tea?

Interviewer: No, thank you. But could I use your bathroom?