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Media mashup: Audiobook sale supports radio, TV

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Now a huge and successful locally owned company with 200 employees, Blackstone Publishing (formerly Blackstone Audio) is throwing one of its big warehouse sales, with a fun family fair starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, offering thousands of its books and audiobooks.

The popular events — the last one was three years ago — draw hundreds of people who nab books and audiobooks for $5. They will also be treated to games, food, music, a raffle, and narrator auditions, says Rick Bleiweiss, head of business development for Blackstone.

With each purchase, event-goers will get a free Blackstone cloth bag and a coupon for a free audiobook on Downpour.com.

Blackstone warehouse sales are always benefits for worthy local causes and all the profits from this one will go to Southern Oregon Public TV and Jefferson Public Radio, as “It’s important they have community support, especially when they may have funding cuts,” says Bleiweiss.

Money from three earlier sales has gone to Jackson County libraries, Ashland Food Bank, Ashland Fire & Rescue and Talent Fire District, he says.

The fair will feature ring toss, dunk tank, kid slide, storytelling and food from a food truck. The event is at their complex at 31 Mistletoe Road at Siskiyou Boulevard. It’s scheduled to wrap up at 4 p.m.

In the last three years, Blackstone has been signing authors to publish in print editions and e-books, not just audio, says Bleiweiss. The company does all their own manufacturing on-site and have so many customers and do so much work for other publishers — Disney, Simon & Schuster, Harper-Collins, Marvel, Harlequin — that they have less and less overstock for warehouse sales, he notes. Blackstone CEO Josh Stanton says this will be the last such sale.

“We’ve kinda become the industry aggregator for physical audio books,” he adds. They also move many audio books by renting them out via downpour.com.

The company, which says it is now the largest independent audio book company in the nation, is owned by locals Craig and Michelle Black, who started it small in 1987, when he was driving a lot and, stuck in LA traffic, found he loved listening to a tape of Orwell’s “1984,” says Bleiweiss. Soon, they relocated to Ashland for quality of life and to raise children.

At the sale, Blackstone opens its recording studios so people can try out as book narrators, but this time, he says, it’s so popular that the tryout slots are already booked.

The privately held company will have up to 7,000 different titles for sale. In their 31 years, they have put 13,000 to 15,000 books in audio form. They have published over 100 physical books so far and have acquired the entire catalog of famed Western author Louis L’Amour and also of James Clavell, author of the “Asian Saga” (including “Shogun”).

Limited on-site parking for the warehouse sale will be supplemented by a shuttle running from downtown Ashland (pickup in front of Ashland Springs Hotel on Main at First) and the fair.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Rick Bleiweiss of Blackstone Publishing in one of the Ashland company's production rooms. (Photo by John Darling)
Rick Bleiweiss poses in an hallway at Blackstone Publising in Ashland. (Photo by John Darling)