Can you hear me now?

I love audio books; they used to be the almost an afterthought in the kingdom of “real” books, but that is no longer the case. I discovered that 67 million Americans listen to audio books each year and that about 48% of frequent listeners are under the age of 35. The ever-increasing popularity of audio books is partially driven by their convenience. Book fans can listen anywhere and even do other things while listening.

I purchase audio content on CD and by downloading audio book files from Audible. I have also found that my local public library has an extensive collection of audio books as part of its “e-book” selection that I can easily download with my library card.

Untitled-2I listen mostly while running, well jogging; OK fine, I am actually just walking, but you get the idea. I load my mystery or thriller books onto my “portable device,” grab my headphones, and off I go. I find this provides powerful motivation to get out, walking and dodging the neighborhood dogs, because I just MUST know what happens next. Lots of others must agree with me since the “mystery thriller suspense” audio books are the most popular.

Listening to a book is not the same experience as reading a book, and reading aloud is a separate skill set from merely talking. The narrator has to develop a unique “voice” for each character as well as for the background explanations. Books have a varied cast –men, women, authorities, criminals, and all of these need to have a distinctive auditory presence in the book, and all are usually spoken by one narrator. A narrator can make or break an audio book.

I think audio books are an appropriate way to enjoy novels, as fitting as the “printed” word. Now authors, what do you think? Are your books transcribed into the audio format? Do you get to choose the narrator? Do you listen to audio books, either your own or those written by others?

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Author: 3 no 7

"3 no 7" presents Katie and Barbara who write about the books they love and the books they don't.

33 thoughts on “Can you hear me now?”

  1. I don’t listen to a lot of audio books because, as you said, the narrator can make or break the book…and I just haven’t found many I like (of course I haven’t tried much either). I did listen to a version of THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS read by the fabulous John Cleese that may still be my favorite.

    I also will admit to falling asleep when I listen to books…not good when you’re driving.

    But I was at a book event at a local store recently where a woman, a long-distance trucker, said she almost exclusively does audio books and she wished more publishers would put them out automatically. They are very valuable for some people. I’m always all about more people reading–whatever the format.

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    1. The “Screwtape Letters” is a favorite of mine, but I have not listened. I definitely want to listen to that one.
      I just cannot listen to audio books while I drive, not even that 4 hour trek to Vegas, because I get so engaged in the book that I don’t watch the road. Not a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. P.S. I went to my public library site to look for “The Screwtape Letters” on audio, and they have two copies with 30 people waiting, so it will be a while before my name comes to the top of the list ! Who would have thought it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely not. If it’s the John Cleese version, he really nails it, although I can only find editions with other narrators these days. The John Cleese version appears to be out of circulation.

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  2. Great topic, 3 no 7! I’ve listened to audiobooks for years when driving, walking dogs and riding my bike. I especially gravitate to audio when it’s a book about England or Ireland, such as Ian Rankin, Stuart Neville, Adrian McKinty, Benjamin Black or Tana French because I figure that a local, who understands the language better who be able to convey to me through sound meaning I’d otherwise miss reading the prose. If the narrator is a good one, like Gerard Doyle or John Keating, their narration enhances the book. By the way, Gerard Doyle is brilliant. In one book, I think it was McKinty’s Rain Dogs, he managed to do four different Irish regional accents, two English and a Scottish one distinctly enough, you could tell who was who.

    But if the narrator is just some English guy doing an Irish accent, I find it falls flat.

    Right now I’m listening to Louise Penney’s Glass Houses narrated by Robert Bathurst, who sounds to me like Eddie Izzard. I have to get past that.

    I do drift off from time to time and miss stuff. The audio app has a 30 second rewind button. I also find it helpful to bookmark occasionally as I’m listening in case that happens.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I listen to McKinty’s books on audio specifically for the rich audio by Gerard Doyle. He just adds something rich and real to the whole experience. My book club just finished a book by Tara French and the most people wanted to try one of her audio book versions in the future to capture that rich language experience.

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  3. I love audio books, too. I always have one in progress, listening to it in the car and also while I sew. The reader makes such a difference, and the last really good performance I listened to was Robert Glenister, reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling).
    There is an audio version of my book, Dancing for the General, performed by the awesomely talented J. Daniel Sawyer.

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  4. I love that people listen to audiobooks, but I just can’t. I immediately fall asleep. Plus, I don’t do any of the things that people do while they listen — drive, housework, exercise, relax.

    I keep toying with the idea to make audio versions of my indie published books, but just haven’t gotten around to it. For FICTION CAN BE MURDER, my agent shopped it around pre-pub, but couldn’t get any takers since I’m nobody. When I started getting good reviews I asked her if we could revisit that and she told me could … just as soon as I won an award. Pfft.

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    1. Unlike others, I DO NOT listen while I drive, buy since you don’e have a commute anyway, try listening while you do that dreaded housework. Be aware, however, if you pick a mystery or thriller you will get hooked and have to find more stuff to do. I will gladly lend you my house to tidy up anytime you want, and I’ll supply my favorite audio mysteries to boot!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! I am having a difficult enough time getting my own housework done, especially since I started my walking regimen in 2011 and blogging in 2013. 🙂 I do not have an iPod – is that what you listen to them on? I have a friend who drove a lot, between work and trips out of state alone, and always had an audio book and he told me the same thing – if he was nearing his destination, he would shut off the audio book before he got too engrossed in it and didn’t want to get out of the car.

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        1. I have an IPod mini that I use while walking. It was inexpensive to purchase and is tiny. I don’t think they make them any more because all it did was audio books, music and podcasts. I put library books, podcasts, and purchased books on it through I-Tunes. My first husband uses an MP3 player that is a little bigger than a flash drive. He just plugs it in to the computer, and it shows as a “device” to drag and drop files. They both use headphones or will connect to car speakers with a cable. I also have a small MP3 player with a speaker that I occasionally use as well, but it does not keep track of where I am in the book, so I usually just listen to podcasts on it while I “do stuff” when I won’t bother other people who might hear.

          Shop around for a good price on a player because they are often promotional items, like now for graduations! I think you might like listening while you walk. It keeps my mind off looking at the same old landscape.

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          1. Thanks for the suggestions as I just don’t read enough anymore now that I have begun blogging and doing housework I always just have the radio on for the news and that gets tiresome after a while. It is just me here at the house, so I could take it off the earphones if need be. One of my favorite things I owned was radio headphones – I bought them at Radio Shack and had a pair for inside and outside. Had music on while working in the house or out doing yardwork. Now that Radio Shack is gone, I best treat them with kid gloves. I like the idea of the audio books though. I really spend too much time in front of a computer screen.

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            1. The IPod has a radio but it uses the headphone cable as the antenna, so I couldn’t use the Bluetooth headphones with it and listen to radio as well. I do have another pair of Bluetooth headphones that has a built in radio and a micro card slot as well for music or podcasts ( need to listen to the whole thing since it does not remember my place) Bluetooth headphones are another big promotion item. I waited and watched ads and got mine for $10 each. They are a little known brand and not the “preferred” color hence the sale, but I got them for $10!! Who cares! So far they have lasted 3 years and 4 years, so I’m a happy camper.

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                1. You can actually get audio books and podcasts on your phone, but I like to have them separate from my phone. I have a pair of excellent “wired” headphones that fit well and are incredibly comfortable, but if I am doing something while I listen, I don’t like the wires getting in the way. I also bought an armband for my IPod mini that is very convenient, and hubby’s MP3 player is so small (flash drive size)that it stores almost anywhere.

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. Bluetooth headphones can be $20 or $200. I recommend that you start with the least expensive ones you can find; that way you can try them out to see what you like. My wired headphones were (I think) about $150, but I wanted a specific fit, fold-ability, and sound. Bluetooth headphones are bigger, fit differently, have to be charged, and have various features (most will answer phone calls and some have radios, micro SD cards, etc. I got my first two pairs for $10 each on sale.

                      I found out what I liked, what I didn’t and only had $20 invested. The plus is that they still work and connect just fine. The fit is not so great, but I wear them over my hat as I walk so I don’t care so much. Have fun

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                    2. Next time you are in Anaheim, we’ll jog together …. or I just registered for Left Coast Crime in San Diego in 2020, so we can jog there!

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              1. Oh that is a great deal – I would be a happy camper as well and often I see things that are podcasts but I don’t like listening to them on the laptop as I figure it drains the battery (I have it permanently set up at the kitchen table and always have it tethered) so I don’t listen to many podcasts. I like your idea – I was an avid reader when I was younger, though I was never able to read in bed for some reason. Getting too comfortable, no matter how good the book was, I’d nod off in a matter of moments.

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  5. I don’t listen to audio books, mostly because I read to get a break from my devices, but this post helped me remember that my husband and I – pre-kid – exclusively did audio books for long car rides. Our families were all far away, so we got in the habit of listening to books. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until I read this post! I do think audio books are fabulous, and I know a lot of people who are exclusive audio book folks.

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  6. I really, really want to get into audiobooks–but I can’t. I just don’t have the attention span. It makes me really sad since I spend so much time on the train commuting to work. I can’t read on the train due to motion sickness, so audiobooks seemed like the perfect solution.

    Except that I would space out every 5 minutes. And every time I came to, I’d have no idea what was going on in the story. The only audiobook I’ve been able to finish was the first in the Amelia Peabody series and that narrator is FANTASTIC.

    Hmm, maybe I should check out the second audiobook in the series from the library…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Give it a try. If you have “trouble” paying attention on the commute, first start with a book that is short, classic mysteries are usually 6 hours of less. Once you “train” yourself to listen as you commute, you can then try a contemporary one that can be up to 10 nail-biting hours. I find mysteries much more interesting to listen to than non-fiction (which always seems like someone chastising me) or literary fiction where I have to sympathize or “become one” with the characters. Those books are better for me to read in hold-it-in-my-hand form.

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      1. Oh, AND… the Agatha Christie audiobooks are incredibly short! Rather than an 8 hour listen, you might be looking at 1 or 2. AND, it’s theatrical. There are numerous actors and the sound effects are fabulous. Waves crashing, birds chirping, footsteps in sand. Seriously. Totally well done.

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  7. I thoroughly enjoy audiobooks. When I’m walking, folding laundry, or working in the kitchen while LoML switches between golf and NASCAR on the television. Because of audiobooks, I’m able to “read” a lot more stories and that makes me happy. Right now I’m listening to a James Patterson and Someone-Someone. And yeah, every once in a while I have to back it up to replay the part that fell through the seive part of my brain.

    Okay… I’m gonna have to give THE CUCKOO’S CALLING another shot. This will sound ridiculous (because it is) but the narrator’s British accent put me off. I guess whenever I read her books, my accent prevails.

    All four of my books are available as audiobooks.

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