By Sam Wheeler
for the Mail Tribune
Ashland audiobook publisher Blackstone Audio was sold for an undisclosed sum to U.K.-based AudioGO Monday, but don't expect the homegrown business to disappear from Southern Oregon.
"It presents our existing staff with greater challenges and with those greater opportunities," said Josh Stanton, Blackstone president and new chief executive officer for AudioGO in North America. "We should see opportunity for growth and potentially more jobs in Ashland."
Blackstone employs about 150 people in Ashland, a handful of whom are part time, said Stanton, who has been with the company for 17 years.
Launched in 1987 by founders Craig and Michelle Black in their Medford living room, Blackstone Audio grew to become one of the largest audio production companies in the nation, specializing in audiobooks.
Independently, it offered more than 4,500 unabridged titles, and maintained five recording studios at its 40,000-square-foot Ashland offices.
Stanton said Blackstone will keep its warehouse in Ashland and continue its production efforts locally, which will "likely increase in the future."
"Blackstone has continued to have amazing growth, as seen throughout the past 25 years, and this merger is just the next step to continue that growth pattern," Stanton said. "I'm excited to now have an international sales presence, which will certainly benefit our authors."
AudioGO was formerly known as BBC Audiobooks. In 2010, BBC Worldwide sold 85 percent of its stake in BBC Audiobooks to AudioGO, according to British news reports.
The Blacks will retain a small share of Blackstone, and will continue to work as consultants for the company under AudioGO, Craig Black said in an email sent to Blackstone's employees Monday announcing the acquisition.
In the email, Black said he also will serve on AudioGO's board of directors.
Stanton would not disclose how much of the company the Blacks retained.
The Blacks did not return a telephone message left Thursday at their home.
"AudioGo is a strong, well-managed, and strongly backed company that shares Blackstone's vision," Black said in the email to his employees. "This move will surely produce new and enlarged opportunities and benefits for Blackstone's employees, narrators, and customers."
Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email email@example.com.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.