Audio Book Advisory

Vintage mixing board in low light.

Photo Credit: Phil Dokas (Creative Commons license)

I love a good audio book.  By listening to a book while accomplishing domestic duties, exercise, crafting, a long road trip or commute, I add a bit of enjoyment to my chores and increase my “reading” time.

Audio book narration is a performance.  Hearing a talented actor give voice to the characters’ dialogue enlivens the reading narrative experience.  My mind’s ear flattens other languages, dialects and accents.  Hearing Australian actor Dan Wyllie. (Muriel’s Wedding) read Tim Winton’s Breath evokes the 1960s small town surf culture of the West Australian coast setting.
 
As for our patrons, many are long-time devotees of audio books. Some will try an audio book when faced with a long wait list for a popular title. Others listen through necessity.  According to the Audio Publishers Association’s consumer survey findings, the audio book audience is growing. Their annual survey revealed that 24% of respondents have listened to an audio book in 2011 (compared to 19% in the 2010 study) and sales reflected this growth – the size of the industry is now 1.2 billion. 
 
Talking about audio books in the library is very similar to your typical readers advisory print book conversation with the addition of a few extra questions:
  • Do you listen through necessity? This question can help determine if the patron is able to take advantage of the larger collections of talking book collections available to people with a print disability through InterLINK member libraries with the support of the Canadian National Institute of the Blind.
  • Will you be listening alone? With family?
  • Abridged or unabridged?
  • CD or downloadable?
  • Do you like a particular narrator?
Five Good Things for Librarians to Know about Audio Books:
  1. Some narrators are known as Golden Voices.  Jim Dale and Davina Porter are widely beloved. Audiofile magazine lists 21 Golden Voices in their Hall of Fame
  2. Compilations of radio shows i.e. NPR’s Driveway Moments and collections such as the Massey Lectures are entertaining non-fiction audio book options.
  3. Audio books are reviewed in most of our go-to collection development sources such as Library Journal, The New York Times Book Review, The GuardianBooklist and Publisher’s Weekly.
  4. Audio books are awarded Grammys!  Michelle Obama is one of the The Spoken Word Album nominees this year.   Other audio book awards include the Audies  and The Listen List awarded by ALA’s RUSA
  5. People continue to borrow audio books on CDs but digital downloads and streaming audio books are on the rise. According to a recent Pew Research Centre report, Library Services in the Digital Age: “About 17% of the 53% Americans who visited a library in the past 12 months say they visit to borrow or download an audio book.” Overdrive will be releasing their 2012 statistics at ALA Midwinter. 

42 second diversion: Listen to Junot Díaz record the opening lines of This is How You Lose Her.

Do you read audio books? What are your favourites?
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2 thoughts on “Audio Book Advisory

  1. Kathy

    Another good source of free audio books is librivox. It consists of books and plays in the public domain, all recorded by volunteers. Or if you are interested you can sign up to record them yourself.

    Reply

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