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Blackstone fundraiser nets $20,000 for libraries

Craig Black, Blackstone Audio founder and president, and Josh Stanton, executive vice-president, presented a check for $20,000 to Shelley Austin, executive director of the Jackson County Library Foundation, on Wednesday.

The donation comes from the proceeds of Blackstone's $5 audiobook warehouse sale and family fun fair held July 25. The amount consists of 50 percent of proceeds from the sale of the audiobooks and 100 percent of the proceeds from the family fair activities.

More than 1,400 people attended the event. There was demand for all of the activities, particularly for recording in Blackstone's studios and auditioning to be a narrator, so much so that Blackstone had to schedule people to continue to record for several days beyond the day of the event, according to event organizers.

"JCLF admires Blackstone Audio for a number of reasons, among them the fact that they make these wonderful audiobooks in the first place," Austin said. "One major program of the Jackson County Library System is outreach, where homebound readers are sent books, audiobooks and large-print books to read. Without the audiobooks, many readers, especially those that can no longer see well, would simply go without."

Black said he was surprised by the event's success.

"We're so very glad that we were able to provide affordable audiobooks to residents of the valley and to raise money for all of our libraries at the same time. I saw numerous people walking out of the warehouse with shopping bags filled to the top with audiobooks."

In addition to the audiobook sale and recording, other activities included a dunk tank that got a major workout, conversations with narrators Tony Heald, Eddie Lopez, Grover Garner, James Adams, Pam Ward, Rebecca Rogers, Tai Sammons, and Tom Weiner, readings of children's stories, a raffle, face painting, massages, music by local bands, food and beverages by Tacos El Gallo and Eclipse Tea and hula hooping.

Giveaways included 500 bags of Moose Munch donated by Harry & David and 1,000 reusable shopping bags donated by Ashland Shop'N Kart.

Blackstone, now the largest independent audiobook company in the nation, has some 4,000 unabridged titles available in multiple formats. In its 21 years in existence, Blackstone has garnered more than 100 Earphones Awards and 12 Audie Awards, the audiobook industry's equivalent of the Oscar.