Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Why Audiobooks?

     Many of my bestselling ebooks are also offered in audio format.  Listening to an audiobook is a different experience than reading the same book the usual way.
     First, deciding whether to read a book or listen to the same book in audio format is a bit like deciding whether you want your ice cream in a cup or a cone.  A lot of it has to do with the way the material is presented, and also the environment you'll be in when you consume it.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.   With an audiobook, the main upside is that your eyes and hands are free to do something else while you're experience the story--such as driving, for example, or doing your laundry.
     The following are the most common reasons people listen to audiobooks, or at least the reasons they start listening to them.
- Commuting back and forth to work via car, bus, train, ferry, etc.  Great for reducing boredom and alleviating stress, such as when stuck in traffic.
- Exercising/working out/hiking/walking
- Performing repetitive tasks such as housework/cooking/gardening, etc.
- Doing hobby or craft work such as knitting, painting, pottery, modeling, etc.
- Traveling on long trips by car, bus, train, or plane (audiobooks are very popular with truck drivers)
- Taking a bath or sunbathing, when the light isn't conducive to reading, you want to lay back and relax, or you simply don't want to risk getting your book or ereader or tablet wet.
- Experiencing a story in a group setting (with family or friends while on a road trip, for example).
- Learning English (or the language in which the book is narrated) - hearing the tone and pronunciation of words can help learners become more natural speakers.
- Increasing your "reading" time - in general, audiobooks allow you to consume new material at times you otherwise could not.  Many book reviewers have started listening to them to increase their output.

     As I said, these are the main reasons that people start listening to audiobooks.  What many folks discover after they try one or two of them is that the experience is quite different than reading, and that it has one unexpected advantage:  the ice cream "cone" itself tastes good, too!  A great narrator can add to the drama as the story unfolds and the overall impression that various characters make.
     When I was in the sixth grade, I was lucky enough to have a teacher read a novel aloud to us for 30 minutes every day when we came back from lunch.  One was the bestselling thriller Failsafe.  To simply say he "read" the book to us is doing the man a great disservice.  He had a lot of acting experience, and he didn't just read the book, he performed it for us, almost like a stage play. The story made such a powerful, lasting impression on me that I've never forgotten it. I can still vividly remember various scenes and bits of dialogue, and that was almost 50 years ago!  A good narrator can  definitely enhance a story, increase the dramatic impact with his/her voice.
     Of course, there are downsides to audiobooks, such as the fact that you may not like the way the narrator interprets the characters or the story. But I've found that if the narrator is skilled, most readers will enjoy audiobooks and the hands-free, eyes-free, group listening advantages they provide.  I spend a great deal of time auditioning narrators and choosing just the right one for each book, the one that I think is the perfect fit and brings the most to the story.
     So, in summary, please don't think I'm pushing audiobooks on you, or that I believe they are superior in any way to good, old-fashioned reading.  I simply want to provide all my books in audio format so that those who want them can have them.  It also pleases me to see my work interpreted and "acted out" by talented people--an audiobook is an interpretation of a book, similar to a movie or stage play.  As an author, I would be thrilled to see every one of my books adapted in all these different forms.
     And who knows?  If you've never listened to an audiobook before, maybe you'll try one and discover a new form of entertainment with benefits that will surprise you.  To try a three hour audiobook totally free of charge, you can listen online or download Lust, Money & Murder, Book 1 on SoundCloud here.

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