Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Audio Books: A Poll

Books on Tape. That's what we used to call them. I've had a love affair with audio books for years and years. My favorite memory is the time my husband and I had a long drive ahead of us and since I had his undivided attention, I popped in  Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships.We had a great time, he was a good sport about it, and we left the car with a deeper appreciation of our differences (and jeez are they vast!)

Anyway, I write for Berkley Prime Crime under the guise of Hannah Reed. They own rights and haven't offered to distribute my stories as audio books. I also write as Deb Baker and have reissued my out-of-print titles as an independent author, making all the publishing decisions myself.

The other day I had an email from a man who has read my Gertie books and wanted to share them with his wife, who has a debilitating disease that doesn't allow her to read. He wanted to know if he could get them as audio books. That got me thinking. Should I make the investment in audio books? I'd have to hire a voice-over artist to do the reading. They aren't cheap. But I'd be perfectly happy just breaking even. Would I?

These are the thoughts going through my head. My stories would be available for download through Amazon and iTunes and other sites that specialize in audio books. Are readers downloading books and listening to them? I know Kindle has text-to-speech capability but the voice is mechanically.

So help me make the decision. Do you listen to audio books? And in what format?

45 comments:

Kim said...

I LOVE audiobooks; right now I'm listening to Lorna Barrett's Chapter & Hearse! I started listening back in the tape days while driving in & out of NYC. Talk about road rage, you didn't want to be near my car if I misjudged traffic & my audio supply. As time has gone on I've progressed to an MP-3 player. My thirst for audiobooks has not abated. My first choice of reading format is audio. I would be thrilled if your books were available on audio.

Diana said...

I've been a die-hard listener of books on tape/cd and now on my computer and ipod.
Books play on my laptop during the workday (I work from home), I take my ipod to the gym, grocery, etc to listen as well.
I have homes in L.A. and AZ and drive the 7 hours between them monthly, my ipod is docked and plays thru the car stereo.
So I'm a huge fan of audio. While I used to buy and/or rent most books on cd, they became more available from libraries. Now I download for free 90% of my audio books from the various libraries I am a member of.

Mason Canyon said...

I'm another one who loves audio books. I started listening on cassettes. Now I listen to CDs either in the car or on my computer and I also listen to them on my MP3 while I'm working in the yard. In the car I rarely listen to music anywhere. I usually have a book I'm listening to. Audio books are great.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Alice said...

I personally cannot do audio books. I get too easily distracted by trying to do something else while listening (cooking, knitting, etc) and lose focus on the story.

HOWEVER, a lot of my friends love audio books and several have audibles accounts.

Katreader said...

Personally, I don't listen to audio books. I'm very particular about acting and voices-and if they don't meet my expectations-I won't bother. Also when reading I hear the characters a certain way-I wouldn't like for someone else to read the lines-and especially not read the other character voices as well. However, for those who are unable to read-it would be wonderful to have all kinds of books available!

Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

I was introduced to audiobooks at a very young age, as my mom was legally blind by the time I was born and totally blind by my tween years. She uses Audible to supplement what she is able to get through the Library for the Blind. I also listen to audiobooks fairly regularly as I'm a knit designer and find a good story helps me keep my needles clicking faster and longer - essential to making deadlines!

Elaine said...

I don't listen to audio books often but when I do, it's on my iPod.

I really like the person who reads J.D. Robb's "In Death" series. She gives Roarke this lovely Irish brogue. I don't read the series anymore; I only listen to the audio books.

Tonya Kappes said...

I do listen to audio book streaming through my ipod in my car. I think authors today have limitless options with the new digital ages. So I say go for it! Be the leader to this new 'take charge of your career' idea in the publishing industry and start with your audio!

Deb Baker said...

I don't have an ipod but now I want one!

Booklady said...

I listen to audio books in the car rather than the radio. I have a book in the CD player even if I'm just driving my short drive to work or going to the grocery store. Audio books are great.

Heather Webber said...

I only listen to audio books on long drives--they're the best companion! But I can definitely see downloading them on an Ipod one day. If, you know, I ever get an Ipod. LOL.

Dru said...

I don't listen to audio books mainly because my concentration would be all over the place and like Katreader mentioned, I already have an idea of what the person's voice sounds in my head and if I hear another voice unlike the one I have, it would distract me to the point where I won't listen to it.

But go for it, especially if you can pick up new readers to your books.

Patty said...

I drive 6-7 hours (one way) to visit my family a couple times a year and would go absolutely nuts without a book to keep me going. I've listened to the entire Harry Potter series, all of Craig Johnson's books and all of Chris Grabenstein's books on trips. I listen less at home but do have one of my iPod's on a speaker system in my bedroom so if I'm trying to finish a book I have it handy.

I say go for it -- there is an entire yahoo group devoted to people who listen to mysteries, it is called "Sounds Like A Mystery" and they are always hoping for new authors and recommend them, use them as challenge reads, etc.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I don't do audio books. The only place I would like to use them is while driving but when I tried it, I got so engrossed in the story, I was a menace on the road, so I stopped.

Dorothy St. James/Dorothy McFalls said...

I listen to audio books on my iPod whenever I'm traveling. It helps make the trip go faster.

Laura K. Curtis said...

I can't listen to audiobooks because I lose track of the story and, in a mystery, often miss clues that I would catch if I were paying attention.

That said, not all voiceover artists--not even all good ones--are expensive. If you decide to go that route, I can tell you how to get in touch with some. My husband does voiceover work and his studio is right in our home. The associations he belongs to host many VO artists of all ages and levels of experience, some of whom are still building portfolios. They audition, etc, so you can see how they sound reading your work and pick the one that bests fits your budget and sensibility.

Rural View said...

I also get too distracted to listen to books. The closest I came was when I was commuting 45 min. each way to college many years ago and on NPR someone was reading a C.S. Lewis book. I got so engrossed in it; would sit in the car until that day's reading was finished.

Janet C said...

I listen to books on my iPod on my daily walks. It has made me walk farther on some days when I get to a part I can't wait to hear. On many sites, you can listen to a sample to check if the reader works for you.

alwzdreamn said...

I adore audiobooks. I listen while I clean, walk - even while at my part-time job! I get my audio books from Audible.com.

RosieJo said...

Please release anything and everything on audio!! You would be amazed at how many people listen to books in addition to reading!! It worked for my teenagers and my in-laws and my husband and most of my friends...well, you get the idea! I have, maybe, 10 songs on my Ipod and the rest of the 16 whatever is filled with books of every kind.
I love a good book and I love my kindle, but audio books are my top priority when it comes to reading. Be aware that a bad narrator can ruin even the best book!

Lin Oz said...

I *don't* buy audio books at this time. I tried them and do not like them. As long as my sight is good enough, I'll stick to print. One of my best friends does like to listen to books while she's driving (on her iPod) and I believe she purchases from Audible.com (?). However, she likes to listen to books she's already read like Harry Potter. I'd be careful before making the investment.

Just my opinion.

Good luck.

ev said...

I listen to audios all the time, mainly while driving. I find it keeps me sane, relaxes me and I don't speed like I do when I am listening to music.

I listened to Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden stuff driving my daughter's car from NY to CA and loved every second of it. I don't remember turning on the radio once.

I'm forever looking for books to listen to. I have sirius radio and listen to the book station- it's turned me on to books I want to read and shown me some I thought I did and realized I don't.

I have an ipod but it always messes up my books, so i think I am getting a new one and using my old first generation one for audios only.

So, yes, I would listen if you did them in audio.

StitchenTigger said...

Have been listening to audio books for year, first on tape, then on CD and now through Audible.com and my iPod. Am always looking for new authors. Don't have as long a commute any more, but some afternoons the DC traffic can be totally unbearable, but a good book allows me to get home in a much better mood.

Chèli said...

I started listened to books on Tape before I retired and many a day they prevented me from having road rage - somebody cut me off, fine no problem, miss a traffic light and have to wait - more time to listen. Now I listen while I do needlework, puzzles, even cook dinner. I also listen in my car and when my husband and I travel by auto we HAVE to an audiobook.

My vote is a definite YES!

Deb said...

I'm loving all your comments. Keep them coming! Although, I think I have my answer.

LORNA BARRETT (aka Lorraine Bartlett) said...

Three of the Chicks have books on Audio. My entire booktown series is on audio (and they're recording Sentenced to Death right now, which will be out in June). They are:
Murder Is Binding
Bookmarked for Death
Bookplate Special
Chapter & Hearse

also, my first Jeff Resnick book is available: Murder on the Mind (under my L.L. Bartlett name). I'm investigating putting the other three books up as well.

Leann Sweeney's Yellow Rose books are available on audio:
Pick Your Poison
A Wedding to Die For
Dead Giveaway
Shoot From The Lip
Pushing Up Bluebonnets

And Maggie Sefton's first Knitting Mystery is Available:
Knit One, Kill Two.

We hope you'll give them a try!

Debra said...

I love audios too. Hubby and I take trips to Mass from NY to see our boy play football. I listen while walking the dog. While cooking I plug my itouch into a little radio in the kitchen and listen through the speakers. I have cognitive issues due to illness and can't process anything like bios anymore,but I can listen! I have Simon Wiesanthal , Lincoln and Hank Aaron bios on the itouch. Also mysteries, of course! I am listening to all of the Agatha Christie books.
My audios are downloaded to my computer through Overdrive and then transferred to the device. The format is WMA.

Linda McDonald said...

I think having audio books available, especially for people who can't read, is a great thing. Personally, I have listened to a few non-fiction audio books, especially if going on a long drive. For some reason I can't seem to do the same with fiction books. I'm not quite sure why.

Aurian said...

I don't listen to audio books, as I read faster myself than if I have to listen to it. But my best friend loves them. She listens more than reads herself, especially in the car on her ipod or even through her ebook reader.
She says James Masters is a good reader, he played Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer ...

~ Babs ~ said...

I am a bit different. My best friend listens to audio books has she has a long commute to and from work. My husband listens to audio books as well since he is blind in one eye and doesn't have to worry about getting books in large print etc because some books don't come in large print.
I on the other hand don't listen to audio books I rather read the old fashioned way.

signlady217 said...

I read too fast myself, so audio books (being read to) just makes me crazy. Just occasionally when I'm alone on a long car trip, then it's ok. But I know tons of people who love them! So I say, why not go for it? Good luck!

Tiffany0227 said...

I don't listen to audio books but I do think it would be great. I would love to have some of my books on my ipod so I could listen to my favorite books and do some ugly messy much needed house work.

However, there are still those times when you love to cuddle up and lounge out with a great book.

I say thumbs up to the audio books. Good Luck!!

Fiona said...

I have a friend who is visually impaired and uses the Books on Tape/CD for everything he "reads."

I say go for it.

Fiona

Lynda said...

I'm new to audio books. Just started when I got my Kindle, but now I am TOTALLY HOOKED. I do a lot of crafts and I used to put on a movie while I "craft", but I have to "watch" one that I've already seen so I can just listen to them without having to look up all the time. Audio books are a perfect solution. Plus, I have a problem w/vertigo and at times spend hours just laying flat with my eyes closed and nothing to occupy my mind. Audio books are a life saver. I also listen in the car when traveling. I currently use Audible, but am going to look into other options so I can increase my library.

Deb said...

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the audio book conversation. I'm taking the next step in production!

ToniG said...

I have been listening to audio books for about 3 years now & I love it. I have not found a narrator that I didn't like and that I thought enhanced to story. Please go to audio.

Toni

Prairiedog said...

I, like Lynda, listen to audio books while sewing and quilting. I don't have to look up at tv to see action, it's in the book. I listen to cds on my radio in my sewing room. However, I order mine from the library, I go thru so many, I couldn't afford to buy them. But, libraries buy them, so that helps. Good luck, I think you'll be happy if you do. Karen

Kat said...

I only listen to audio books on long drives and they have to be non-fiction books as I get too distracted listening to fiction.

Carole said...

I once tried an audio book while on a trip, but just couldn't keep up with the plot. Maybe it would have been different had it not been a mystery. While I would probably only listen to an audio book again if I were visually impaired, there seems to be enough demand to make them financially profitable, Deb. And I enjoy your books, by the way!

Christine A said...

I love to read however, with two young kids (2,4)it is tough at times and I really need some "me" time. I started listening to audio books when I used the elliptical. I got me time to listen and exercise time. SOOOO happy for that. I usually just borrow from the library since money is straped. Right now I am listening to Jean Auel's book in preparation for the next book! I read all the "big" books many years ago. I listen to Linda Howard and have found that the voices provided me with so much feeling about the story than my reading it. Audio really takes a book to the next level. So I would recommend first reading the book then listening to it. So YES- invest in audio. It can provide stories for so many people. Thanks.

Christine A said...

Oh- if you are not sure- Listen to The Highlander series by Karen Marie Moning. The reader Phil Gigante has the best voices for a highlander and really makes the books come to life. Thinking about it- why don't you read your own stories? I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote and spoke her own books. You would save money :-)

Kim said...

woo hoo Deb! I'd love to hear all about the process. One of my bucket items is attending a audiobook recording. I think it would be cool to see the behind the scenes.

Vickie said...

I subscribe to Recorded Books and listen to audiobooks, usually BOCD, for my 50 mile RT commute for work or errands when Lady K isn't in the car (that's when the DVDs are on).
Someone telling me a story while I drive to work keeps me mellow while others are driving like it's the Indy 500.
Listening to SIDE JOBS: Stories From the Dresden Files - Jim Butcher, James Marsters narrates.

Michelle said...

Once in a while I listen to audiobooks. I still have them on tape and I bought some from the library's gift shop for $1.00 each. Sometimes I listen to ones on C.D., usually from the library.

Some of the ones I prefer listening to are Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, and the Cat Who series. Those are some of my favorites. I think it's easiest to pay attention when it's your favorite stories.

I don't own an MP-3 player so no electronic downloads for me. Maybe someday. I know the library offers downloads.

Michelle said...

Another author who reads her own books is Carol Higgins Clark. I have one of hers on tape.

I found books on tape relaxing when traveling on Greyhound buses. I tried it on city buses but had to keep adjusting the sound and that didn't work at all!

I'll have to try listening to audio books when I do crossword puzzles. Sometimes I listen to music and do puzzles. I need to work in my puzzle books more so I'll try it.