Above: An illustration by Jonathan Hodgson of Spiracle. At the moment, all is imagined space rather than real, hence an illustration rather than a photo.

We are excited to share our first Audiobookshop of the Month! London-based Spiracle publishes ambitious and original audiobooks picked by authors and small publishers. Described as a local shop full of treasures in a Walmart world, the team at Spiracle focuses on fiction and non-fiction from independent presses (including the forthcoming Ti Amo from And Other Stories). In any case, Spiracle assures us, the stories won’t be dull.

For this Q&A we caught up with Spiracle’s founder, Kate Bland.

What do you think is special about Spiracle?

We see Spiracle as the sound of great writing, offering a selection of fiction and non-fiction audiobooks. We choose those books which really shine out for the writing, the story, the journey, the ambition and the surprise they hold. With this approach, we hope Spiracle enables rich discovery without the distraction of advertising or algorithm-driven commerce. Our selection seeks writing across a long period and from a diverse range of places: classics, hidden or ignored gems, and the most compelling and ambitious writing from small and independent presses.

If money was no object, what changes would you make to the organization?

We would publish more audiobooks with the small and independent publishers and offer short stories and poetry much sooner than we currently plan! We would also love to develop the podcast side of Spiracle further, enabling it to be a place for lively literary conversation and stimulation.

How / why did you get into (audio)bookselling?

Quite simply to offer a haven for book lovers! To create an alternative to the dominant giants that currently sell audiobooks in a transactional way, driven by machine-learning algorithms which focus upon past consumption, effectively narrow horizons and understand nothing of literary value and cultural connections across time and space.

What’s your favourite And Other Stories book?

There are many, but the first in mind is Gerald Murnane’s Border Districts.

What book published in the last year do our readers need to get their hands on?

Aside from Ti Amo by Hanne Ørstavik (translated by Martin Aitken, read by Emma Fielding), any of the Spiracle editions. Polly Barton’s Fifty Sounds (read by the author) is ambitious and touching non-fiction, while James Clammer’s Insignificance is brilliantly read by Lee Ross.

What would be your desert island book?  

Victory by Joseph Conrad, read by Eleanor Bron. Apart from the strange and brilliant intrigue, it would keep us on our toes to think a bunch of crooks might arrive on a boat at any minute.

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