Friday, November 21, 2008

Audiobooker has moved!

My Audiobooker blog has moved to a new address:

If you'd like to follow me to my new home, please resubscribe on the new site, change any RSS feeds, and update blogrolls. Hope to see you over on the Booklist Online website!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

National Book award Youth Winner: What I Saw and How I Lied

From the National Book Award website:


WINNER: Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied (Scholastic) - Interview

Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains (Simon & Schuster) -
Interview Coming Soon
Kathi Appelt, The Underneath (Atheneum) - Interview
E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
(Hyperion) - Interview
Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now (Alfred A. Knopf) - Interview

Young People’s Literature Judges: Daniel Handler (chair), Holly Black, Angela Johnson, Carolyn Mackler, Cynthia Voigt.

Audiobooker announcement

Please note: Today my Audiobooker blog will be moving to a new address:

If you'd like to follow me to my new home, please resubscribe, change any RSS feeds, and update blogrolls. Hope to see you over on the Booklist Online website!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

School Library Journal Leadership Summit: Can You Hear Me Now?

During the School Library Leadership Summit, I was honored to moderate a panel titled “Can You Hear Me Now?” During the session, attendees and presenters explored the growing availability of digital formats in the school library session, the various hardware “containers” used to store literature, and the benefits & challenges of purchasing digital media. Librarian Philosopher Dr. Barry Bishop posted his summary of the session here. Find out more and add your observations, questions and comments to the Summit wiki or Ning.

I have compiled some posts that address the need for research that supports the use of audiobooks in the classroom & school library in this post.

Thanks to School Library Journal for coordinating and hosting this amazing FREE event! This was my first time attending, but not my last. I plan to add the SLJ Summit to my calendar every year.

Thanks to the expert participants on the panel. If you would like to continue your conversation with them, feel free to use the contact information below:

Daniel R. Albohn, Manager, New Business Development, Sony Inc.Daniel Albohn is the manager of business development for the Sony eReader, a portable digital book reader. Contact Daniel Albohn at

Caroline Barni, Director of Marketing, Playaway / Findaway World.Caroline Barni is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Playaway, a pre-loaded digital audio player. Contact Caroline Barni at

Steven Potash, President and CEO of OverDrive, Inc. OverDrive distributes over 100,000 premium eBook, audiobook, music, and video titles to a network of over 6,000 libraries and online retail websites. For information on OverDrive’s school download initiative, contact Claudia Weissman, International Business Director,

Pamela R. Smith, Senior Vice President, BWI and Follett Library Resources. Pamela Smith is one of the two Senior Vice Presidents who are responsible for the overall success of BWI and Follett Library Resources. Contact Pamela Smith at or Chris Schubert, Director of Marketing at

Monday, November 17, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Poetry Friday: MTV's Poet Laureate John Asbury

If you attended the first-ever YALSA YA Literature Symposium's "Picturing the Story: Teens Get Graphic" pre-conference, you heard Printz-Award winner Gene Yang's reminder that today's teens expect to participate in literature. Want to get teens participating in poetry? Visit MTV's website that focuses on college students:

MTV named a Poet Laureate for university students, and not one you might expect. Eighty-year-old John Ashbury is featured on reading his poems in video clips, along with printable text of the poem. What a great way to introduce this winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, a MacArthur Fellowship and The Yale Younger Poets Prize to NetGen learners! Learn more about mtvU's poet laureate, along with mtvU's poetry contest for college students in this New York Times article by Melena Ryzik.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

YA Literature Symposium: Listening is Reading

I'm at the first YA Literature Symposium, hosted by YALSA and funded in part through the generosity of the William Morris Endowment. I am honored to be part of the session "Listening is Reading: Teens Choose Books Out Loud." Here are a few links for those interested in audiobooks for teens...

Best MP3 Players for Audiobooks: a Cnet article from October 2, 2008 by Donald Bell

Some past Audiobooker posts on teens & audiobooks:

International Association of School Librarians Conference Session: Research Resource List

International Association of School Librarians Conference: Beyond the Book Session Notes

International Association of School Librarians: Ten Tips for Teens New to North American English

Listen Up! Audiobooks and Literacy Development

Sounds True to Me: Authentic Audiobooks for Adolescents PowerPoint

From the YALSA Blog - the podcast from the first Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production Celebration.

From the PLA blog - the Celebrating Excellence in Audiobooks for Children and Young Adults podcast with Judy Blume, Bruce Coville, Jack Gantos, and John Green.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Poetry Friday: The election

There's nothing like a world-changing event to inspire poets! On November 5th, the New York Times asked five poets (John Ashbery, August Kleinzahler, Joshua Mehigan, Mary Jo Bang , J. D. McClatchy) to respond to the election. Read their poems here: The Measure of Democracy. What a great challenge for teachers to give to their students! Need more inspiration? Try Walt Whitman & more at

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Monday, November 3, 2008

The Rivalry from L.A. Theater Works - theater online for free. And take advantage of your freedom to vote!

Here's a great resource for drama lovers & language arts teachers who wish to incorporate the sound of live theater in the classroom, using a perfect connection to Civil War studies. The entire performance of The Rivalry, a drama based on the Lincoln/Douglas debates, will be available for free the week of November 3-9. And what a great reminder of the importance of the presidency and the value of every single vote - so don't forget to GET OUT AND VOTE ON TUESDAY AS IF YOUR COUNTRY DEPENDED ON IT!

L.A. Theater Works offers a tremendous amount material on their website and through radio station KPPC's website- what a great way to introduce major works such as Pride & Prejudice, Julius Caesar, The Glass Menagerie, or The Grapes of Wrath to students using the performance of great actors.

L.A. Theater works has an entire education outreach website Alive and Aloud that contains audio clips and study guides for classroom teachers. There is even an outreach program for libraries in underserved areas, rural communities, and the visually impaired. Visit the sites and sign up for the newsletters!

Here's more info from L.A. Theater Works:

Live Streaming On-Demand!

Free for the week of November 3 - 9

David Strathairn and Paul Giamatti star as Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, rivals for the U.S. Senate - one a rising Illinois legislator and abolitionist candidate for the newly formed Republican party, the other the Democratic incumbent and champion of states' rights. Although Douglas was re-elected Senator from from Illinois, the debates brought Lincoln into the national consciousness and helped send him on to the presidency.

The program also stars Lily Rabe as Adele Douglas, the young wife of Senator Douglas through whose lens we witness the proceedings; James Gleason; and Shannon Cochran. Eric Simonson, 2006 Academy Award-winner for his documentary The Golden Age of Norman Corwin directs. The broadcast includes an interview with Paul Giamatti and David Strathairn.

Listen to a clip of The Rivarly now!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Safety first! Autumn Alert

Just doing my part to help everyone stay safe...

Extreme Weather Alert: Meteorologists Predict Intensely Brisk Autumn

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Just had to pass along the image above from an email today from Recorded Books. And here's the rest of their message:

Looking for a fun and educational reading activity for Halloween? At the blog, we’ve posted spook-tacular audioexcerpts from Dracula vs. Grampa at the Monster Truck Spectacular (an AudioFile Earphones Award winner!), The Story of Ichabod Crane, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Enjoy these free excerpts for elementary, middle, and high school along with a worksheet exploring mood—compliments of Recorded Books!

Happy trick or treating!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Historical recordings: Audible ghosts

Today's New York Times has an amazing story on the discovery of early musical recordings long thought to have been destroyed in World War II. Classical Ghosts, Audible Once Again, by Daniel J. Wakin, details the careful research done by father-and-son team John A. and John Marsden in tracking down a collection of wax cylinders in a little-known archive in Russia. Musical luminaries of the late 1800s can now be heard, as well as a short recording of Tolstoy reading his own works.

I am always fascinated in the thrill felt when a voice long dead is discovered in an early recording, such as the BBC recordings of great writers and Agatha Christie telling her life story. Astounding how sound recordings have the power to transport us to another time and place. Audiobook listeners often remember the exact stretch of the dog walk where they heard a novel's denouement, or the portion on the daily commute that triggered tears. Perhaps I owe my audiobook addiction to the awe I felt when, as a preschooler, I first heard the Wilcox-Gay Recordio discs recorded by my grandfather. I knew my father as a man whose voice reflected my Mid-Western home. How strange to hear his well-loved tones with the southern twang of his Arkansas roots, preserved on those acetate discs!

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

METAtropolis and musings on audiobooks

Nice post on publisher Tor's blog by Megan Messinger, as she reflects on the release of Metatropolis, an audio-only collaboration by leading science-fiction authors. Messinger also muses on the release of the audio-before-print breakthrough by Full Cast Audio with Tamora Pierce's Melting Stones, as well as the issue of each person's love-or-hate relationship with the audiobook format.

Metatropolois, released exclusively as digital audio, is available from Audible. Here's the descriptive blurb:

METAtropolis is an intelligent and stunning creation of five of today's cutting-edge science-fiction writers: 2008 Hugo Award winners John Scalzi and Elizabeth Bear; Campbell Award winner Jay Lake; plus fan favorites Tobias Buckell and Karl Schroeder. Together they set the ground rules and developed the parameters of this "shared universe", then wrote five original novellas - all linked, but each a separate tale.

Bringing this audiobook to life is a dream team of performers: Battlestar Galactica's Michael Hogan ("Saul Tigh"); Alessandro Juliani ("Felix Gaeta"); and Kandyse McClure ("Anastasia 'Dee' Dualla"); plus legendary audiobook narrators Scott Brick (Dune) and Stefan Rudnicki (Ender's Game).

John Scalzi, who served as Project Editor, introduces each story, offering insight into how the METAtropolis team created this unique project exclusively for digital audio.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Silence! No laughing in the library!

Thanks, American Libraries Direct, for making a sick day on the couch a bit better!

Remember Tears for Fears librarian-themed 1985 hit "Head Over Heels?"

Well, watch this:

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

The Author's Voice: recordings from the British Library

What a fantastic find from the vaults of the British Library! The Spoken Word: British Writers and American Writers contains rare recordings of author interviews on the BBC. Learn more in the article Now on CD: Library's Treasure Trove of Authorial Voices by Mark Brown, published in The Guardian. Here's a quote from the article about the contents of the title:

They include the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf, the sole recording of Arthur Conan Doyle, battily explaining the importance of spiritualism and the existence of telepathy, and Gertrude Stein incomprehensibly explaining how she writes.
And here is a quote that seems a bit prophetic:
One of the jolliest interviewees is PG Wodehouse, in conversation with Alistair Cooke in 1963.They talk jocularly about a new theory that automation is going to throw so many people out of work that by the year 2000 every middle-class family will need four servants to keep people employed.
Give a listen here to an interview about this amazing release!

This collection, a 3 CD set of British writers and a 3 CD set of American writers, will be available through the University of Chicago Press.

Monday, October 20, 2008

John Green's Paper Towns - listen as you like!

Award-winning YA author John Green's eagerly awaited novel Paper Towns hit the street on October 16th - and Brilliance Audio scored an audiobook first. Released simultaneously with the print edition, Brilliance has the audiobook on both CD and MP3,
OverDrive Media (provider of audiobook download services to public libraries) has the title available for download, plus the title is available on the Playaway pre-loaded digital player.
I've been looking forward to this title since I saw Green's Nerdfighter video on the recording session. Learn more about this all-audio-format initiative that Brilliance's Tim Ditlow calls a "new model" for audiobook publishing in Shannon Maughn's Publishers Weekly article "All Ears on Paper Towns."

Images from,, and

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Plastic Logic eBook reader: sneak peek

Here's another sneak peek at a newly developed eReader from an article on the BBC website. The reader from Plastic Logic looks to have some great features. Check out the BBC article by Steven Rosenberg here - it even includes a review video. No color display, but it looks extremely durable! Learn more from Plastic Logic's demo video:

Color display on eBook reader - sneak peek

Very cool! Gizmodo gives a peek at a concept eBook reader from KDDI that displays a full color image, allowing a truly page-like display of picture book design. We're moving closer to an eBook reader that will replicate a readalong audiobook, combining the audio and original book image in a digital package. Can you imagine wirelessly downloading a new readlong from the back seat of your car on vacation, rather than popping a DVD into the in-car player?

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Poetry Friday: The Caedmon Poetry Collection

Looking for this week's Poetry Friday compilation? Visit Becky's Book Reviews. And I'd like to suggest a fantastic audiobook collection: The Caedmon Poetry Collection: A Century of Poets Reading Their Work: 44 poems, 44 authors reading their own work. From Keats to Randall Farrell, this amazing recording allows you to hear the voice of the creator of touchstone works of poetry. A must-listen for any poetry lover and a part of any high school audiobook collection. Here's a partial list on the contents:

William Butler Yeats -- The Song of the Old Mother; The Lake Isle of Innisfree; W.H. Auden -- In Memory of W.B. Yeats; Dylan Thomas -- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Fern Hill; Edith Sitwell -- Still Falls the Rain; May Swenson -- The DNA Molecule; Robert Graves -- Poem to My Son; Randall Jarrell -- Eighth Air Force; Archibald MacLeish -- Epistle to Be Left in the Earth; W.S. Merwin -- The Last One; Anne Sexton -- Divorce, Thy Name is Woman; Carl Sandburg -- The Windy City Fog; William Carlos Williams -- The Seafarer; E.E. Cummings -- darling! because my blood can sing, if everthing that happens can't be done; Joseph Brodsky -- Nature Morte, Letter from an Archaeologist; Robert Frost -- The Road Not Taken, After Apple-Picking; Derek Walcott -- Omeros, Book 1, Chapter 1; Robert Lowell -- Skunk Hour; Gertrude Stein -- If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso; Sylvia Plath -- The Thin People; Robert Penn Warren -- Sirocco; American Portrait: Old Style; Pablo Neruda -- Arte Poetica; Ezra Pound -- Moeurs Contemporaines; Wallace Stevens -- The Idea of Order At Key West; T.S. Eliot -- The Wasteland

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Digital future of publishing

Each year, thousands of publishers & authors gather in Germany for the Frankfurt Book Fair. This year, a fascinating survey of over 1,00 industry professionals from 30 countries participated in a survey that asked "How will digitisation shape the future of publishing?" Read the press release here.

Ebooks are the prime focus, with digital audiobooks overlooked. But there are interesting observations that are applicable to all digital formats:

Digitisation opens up new fields of co-operation. With which other sectors should the publishing industry work more closely?
• 22 per cent thought that mobile handset manufacturers and networks would be the most important future partners

Who is currently leading the sector in digitisation?
• over half said the US (51 per cent)
• Japan was in second place, with 15 per cent, followed by Europe – excluding the UK – at 11 per cent
• only five per cent named the UK as the dominant market in terms of digitisation
Which market will be leading the sector in digitisation in five years time?
Respondents predicted that the international balance will shift in the coming years:
• only 29 per cent predict that the US would still be leading the way
• China followed with 28 per cent
• respondents still expected Europe (17 per cent) and the UK (three per cent) to be trailing in this area

Who is really in charge?
When asked who was driving the move towards digitisation in the book industry, only seven per cent felt that publishers were leading the way:
• 22 per cent said that consumers were pushing the move towards digitisation
• online retailers like Amazon (21 per cent), Google (20 per cent), and the telecommunications sector (13 per cent) were not far behind
• only two per cent felt that authors were driving this aspect of the industry – and governments lagged even further behind with only one per cent

As the much-hyped e-readers hit the stores, and digitisation continues to revolutionize all aspects of the book trade, this year over 70 per cent of respondents revealed that they feel ready for the digital challenge. The survey also reveals that current opinion is divided on the future of the e-books and digital content versus the printed word. 40 per cent of respondents expect e-content to overtake traditional book sales as early as 2018 – whereas a third predict that this will never happen.
Interesting reading!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Audiobooks on cell phones: a report from England

British novelist Andy McNab is the co-founder of GoSpoken, an audiobook download company in England. As a result of a conversation in a pub, he recently teamed with Vodaphone, one of the largest mobile phone companies in Europe. The result? Just type in the cell phone browser and get audiobooks downloaded in three minutes or less. Here's more information from the website:

We love GoSpoken because: Audiobooks are better than paper books when you are walking, running, on a crowded train or bus, driving a car and most of all lying in the sun (nothing is more annoying than trying to find a comfortable position while reading a paperback in the sun with sweat dripping on to your book). You never leave home without your phone. You will never be bored with GoSpoken on your mobile phone as you will be able to download from anywhere that has network coverage. You have no need to carry other entertainment devices, iPods, books etc. You can keep your children quiet by downloading suitable Horrid Henry stories. You will be able to comment about and have an opinion on almost all books and topics as you will never be able to say "you don't have time". Security queues at British airports and train delays will not bother you again. While all around you get sweaty with frustration you will be transported to Andy McNab's Iraq, Ian McEwan's Chesil Beach or Stephen Hawking's Universe. Erotic books can be enjoyed without having to hide them inside another magazine on the tube, and it won't show up on your credit card statements. No more annoying messing about with side loading to iPods or ripping CDs to your MP3 player... a nightmare. Download audio books in minutes to your phone and listen to it immediately on your handsets' media player. At last a quality mobile phone application for adults that doesn't involve a crazy frog. GoSpoken is green and environmentally-friendly. Costs are charged directly to your mobile phone with just one click, no messing about with credit cards. Audiobooks as downloads are far cheaper than CDs and much more readily available; let us worry about your audio library.
Image from www.gospoken .com

Monday, October 6, 2008

Non-fiction Monday: New from Recorded Books

Those who love non-fiction should be pleased by the growing selection in the audiobook genre. Three recent releases from Recorded Books give young listeners a variety of choices:

Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement, by Ann Bausman & Narrated by Cecelia Riddett. This brief title (1.5 hours) does not have the photographs from the print title, but otherwise provides a fine overview of the era for intermediate listeners. Kudos to Recorded Books for shining a new light on this Sibert Award Honor Book.

The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming, by Lauie David and Cambria Gordon & Narrated by Polly Lee. Here is another short audiobook (2.5 hours) that will allow struggling readers to access non-fiction research. Best used in conjunction with the print title due to the charts, graphs & other visuals.

The Burn Journals, by Brent Runyon & Narrated by Christopher Evan Welch. A stunning audiobook detailing the horrific memoir chronicling the recovery after a suicide attempt by an eighth-grade boy who set himself on fire.

I'll keep you updated on more audiobook non-fiction for young listeners in future posts!

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Be Quiet! I'm Listening! archived webcast

Looking for ways to include audiobooks in your classroom? Want to start off the school year with some great how-to tips on leading kids to literature through listening? Learn how three educators use audio support to capture students’ attention and keep them engaged at our free webinar on youth literacy, Be Quiet! I’m Listening, presented by School Library Journal and Recorded Books. I was one of the presenters of this webcast last week, along with Shonda Brisco and Hillary Wolfe. You may listen to our hour-long commentary and download the presentation for one year at the archive site after registering:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Banned Book Week Essential Guide: The Next Battleground Audiobooks and Censorship

Support the First Amendment, Read a Banned Book
Today marks the start of Banned Books Week, a yearly event sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met. The ALA website has many resources, including support for those dealing with challenges.

Teri Lesesne, the Goddess of YA Literature, has written a guide specifically addressing the issues unique to audiobook challenges: "The Next Battleground: Audiobooks and Censorship." Teri's article is included in the wonderful magazine RHI, produced by Random House for High School Teachers. Be sure to visit the magazine website and sign up for a free subscription to both the print & email RHI publications. Plus, you'll find other amazing resources for supporting every student's right to read freely, written by educational experts and a litany of literary heroes, from Judy Blume to Salman Rushdie. Essential Reading.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

More Nate DiMeo on NPR's "Day to Day"

Today's NPR program "Day to Day" had the voice of Nate DiMeo elaborating on his thoughts contained in the Slate story "Read Me a Story, Brad Pitt: When Audiobook Casting Goes Terribly Wrong" mentioned in my post last Sunday.

Give a listen here to "When Audio Books Jar the Ear" - it's extra good when you can HEAR a clip of Brad's perfectly dreadful Spanish accent! Plus, I love the fact that DiMeo names Jim Dale's narration of the Harry Potter audiobooks the "gold standard." Great pointers on what makes a really good - or really bad -audiobook in an excellent just-under four minute commentary.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

When audiobook casting goes terribly wrong

Now here is one GREAT article on audiobooks! I have never read a better examination of audiobook evaluation, chock full of so many fantastic lines I can't even begin to list my favorite quotes. So no matter if you are an audiobook aficionado, reviewer, voice talent, or sideline spectator, you MUST bookmark this: Read Me a Story, Brad Pitt: When Audiobook Casting Goes Terribly Wrong by Nate DiMeo posted on on September 18, 2008.

Photograph of Brad Pitt by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images. From

Saturday, September 20, 2008

TitlePlayer, Playaway, Mi-vox: Keep your eyes on these preloaded audiobook competitors

At the American Library Association's annual conference last June, I was intrigued by TitlePlayer, a vendor who manufactures pre-loaded audiobooks similar to the Playaway or the Mi-vox. I was impressed with the excellent sound quality and features , and left my contact information to receive updates on the product. It's interesting to see that there is so little competition in the pre-loaded market, even as the Audio Publishers Association statistics show the boom in audiobook listeners. Here's the first promotional email from TitlePlayer, received yesterday, copied below:

Dear Librarian,

We'd like to introduce you to Titleplayer, the revolution in pre-loaded audiobook players. You may already be familiar with the concept: no CDs, no downloads, simply one audiobook already loaded on durable player... just push play!

We created Titleplayer in response to the feedback of real librarians. That's why Titleplayers are the only 'Just Push Play' audiobooks that offer:

  • Two choices of player. The battery-operated TitleClassic, and the new TitleTicket which was designed with libraries in mind and features USB rechargablity, a built in FM transmitter for commuters, and a sleek new design to appeal to younger audiences. The most user-friendly designs on the market!
  • Easiest audiobook circulation standards ever. Ticket recharger cables are anchored inside library standard DVD packaging, so patrons can recharge at home. Plus, the packaging for both models features a clear viewing window, so you know exactly what's inside. Just check it in and out. It's as easy as a book.
  • Factory direct pricing. We own our factory, which means we can offer the highest quality audio, (compare our CD quality 128kbps sound to current industry standard 48kbps), at the lowest price.

All of this, featuring over 500 titles for kids and adults, with an average of 50 new titles added every month. Make this selection available to your libraries TODAY and take advantage of our rolling ordering and separate bill-to and ship-to systems. Titles are all ISBN-labelled and MARC compatible, with barcodes.

How? Just take a look! It's all in our library shop: Or click here to check out our new Library Starter package.

It's a portal into the future of audiobooks. We look forward to hearing from you.


Christy Meyer
Library Advisor

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New audiobook statistics from the APA

Publisher's Weekly featured the newest consumer statistics from the Audio Publishers Association in Monday's story "APA Survey Finds Solid Audio Gains in 2007" by Jim Milliot. Here's the quote I like:

Young listeners are the fastest-growing segment of the market, with the APA reporting that 53% of teens have listened to an audiobook.
That should change the minds of some of the collection development specialists that have justified low funding of youth & YA audiobooks through download vendors. Perhaps a case of "If you build it, they will come?"

Agatha Christie's autobiography - in her own voice

I am sitting in my local public library catching up with online life. Here in Ohio, we had hurricane-force winds post-Ike, and millions like me are now on day three of no power. Thank heavens for internet access in the library!

When reading Monday's New York Times online, I came across an interesting story, "Tapes Offer New Clues to a Master of Mystery" by Julie Bosman, about a stockpile of audio tapes containing Agatha Christie's dictation of her life story. Christie's estate is pondering a re-release of the autobiography as an audiobook, allowing listeners to hear the long-past mannerisms of an English gentlewoman born 118 years ago. Talk about a time machine!

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Book Links "Quick Tips" email newsletter

I write the "Voices in My Head" audiobook column in each issue of Book Links magazine - the American Library Association's bi-monthly publication for teachers, librarians, library media specialists, booksellers, parents, and other adults interested in connecting children with high-quality literature. Each issue is a "keeper," with a core curriculum focus - for example, I just submitted my column for the Multicultural theme. You can subscribe to the magazine here.

But did you know that there is a free email newsletter, Book Links Quick Tips? This month's Quick Tips has my list of audiobooks that integrate music into the production, created as a resource for the more complete column titled "Audiobooks Alive with the Sound of Music" that appears in the September Book Links' "Exploring the Arts" issue. You can subscribe to the free newsletter here.

Be sure to check out both the magazine & newsletter for more audiobook resources!

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

The 40 best audiobooks - as voted by UK listeners

British newspaper The Guardian sponsored a contest where readers chose their favorite audiobook from a list of 40 top titles. If you are looking for some new titles to add to your listening list, visit this website: .

You'll be able to listen to samples of all 40 titles, some that will be familiar and some that are only from UK suppliers - but thanks to the wonders of digital downloads, available worldwide through Audible.UK. Curious about the top titles? Here's a quote from the press release:

The top 5 audiobooks, as voted for by the public, in winning order:

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Primary Phase, by Douglas Adams, read by a full cast (BBC)
2. Attention All Shipping, by Charlie Connolly, read by Andrew Jennings (Little, Brown)
3. Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, read by Joan Walker and cast (SmartPass)
4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, read by Ben Tibber (RandomHouse)
5. I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue – Anniversary Special, read by a full cast (BBC)

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

iTunes 8 - now audiobooks are easy!

Thanks, Aldoblog! Michael Alderete's blog is a great resource for all things audiobook. Today's post convinced me to download Apple's new iTunes 8 software version. I really wasn't excited about the Genius playlist, updated visualizer, or HD TV viewing - the features on Apple's iTunes "What's New" page. But hidden on the iTunes A to Z page, there's news that will interest audiobook fans:

Set Media Kind

iTunes 8 includes a new feature that lets you properly categorize tracks you import from a CD. Say you’re importing a set of language learning discs. If you want iTunes to categorize tracks on those discs as audiobooks, just select the tracks and choose Audiobooks from the Media Kind pop-up menu in the Options pane of Get Info. Now, instead of appearing in your music library, your imported tracks appear in your audiobooks library.

What that means is that your position will be saved automatically when turned off, the audiobook will be skipped in shuffle play, and the audiobook speed control will be available from the Settings menu for ANY CD audiobook imported via iTunes 8! No more changing multiple drop-down menus while ripping CDs, or only having speed control with audiobooks purchased from the iTunes store. Changing the speed of audiobooks is a definite plus for me - and probably for many other iPod, iTouch & iPhone users. Thanks, Apple!

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

FREE workshop for teachers & librarians on using audiobooks in the classroom.

Looking for ways to include audiobooks in your classroom?
Want to start off the school year with some great how-to tips on
leading kids to literature through listening?
Sign up for this great FREE online workshop today!
I'll be one of the presenters, and am looking forward to meeting you online!

image - Boy and girl at desk with headphones on, listening..

Learn how three educators use audio support to capture students’ attention and keep them engaged at our free webinar on teen literacy, Be Quiet! I’m Listening, presented by School Library Journal and Recorded Books on Tuesday, September 23, 2008, at 2:00 PM EDT. Presenters include Mary Burkey, Olentangy Liberty Middle School teacher-librarian and Book Links columnist; Shonda Brisco, Oklahoma State University Curriculum Materials Library; and Hillary Wolfe, intervention coordinator, Camino Nuevo Academy.

To register for this free web event, click here.

Can’t make it on September 23? No problem.
Registrants retain access to the event on-demand for—12 months!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cell phones as digital readers - Romance readers lead the way

Mp3 players, Kindles, Playways, Sony Readers, iPods, CD players - are they all traveling the same path as the good old cassette player to that great big graveyard of archaic technology? Will the smart cell phone become the default digital reader? I'm placing my bet that we'll have made the transformation to one tech gadget to rule them all in three years or less. And it's not just the young net-gen audiobook & eBook users fueling the transformation.

Ask any public librarian what genre group is among the top eBook & audiobook download, and you'll hear "Romance readers." Check the statistics and you'll learn that women ages 40-59 are the top digital download patrons. Canadian Romance publisher Harlequin has embraced their digital customers with an innovative website offering occasional free downloads, web-only miniseries featuring Forbidden Fantasies to NASCAR to Texas-Hold'em, multiple imprints from mild to wild, reader blogs, and even manga romance for your cell phone. Harlequin now releases every print title as an eBook. And check out the iPhone promotion "Romancing the Phone" featured in Publishers Weekly - which seems to have a few glitches. But glitches aside, it looks like romance is leading the way in innovative digital reading.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Looking for audiobooks available at the library? Search WorldCat!

Thanks to ricklibrarian for a great post reminding us that WorldCat Is the Place to Identify Audiobooks If you are ever trying to track down the availability of a title in audiobook format, don't waste time on store sites such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble. You'll miss titles published by Recorded Books, BBC Audio, or other major audiobook companies. Or you might find only the mass-market abridged version, and never realize that the unabridged audio is at the public library down the block! Plus, Rick reminds us that WorldCat even catalogs some Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic titles - another tremendous resource.

Don't know what WorldCat is? Take time to explore! WorldCat is a great FREE resource from OCLC - basically, it is a worldwide online library catalog showing you EVERY library that owns a particular title. But the awesome trick is that you can narrow the search to libraries near your zip code, and see the closest place to pick up a title - or request an interlibrary loan, if it is at the near-by university library. WorldCat links you to the library's website, allowing you to check to see if the title is on the shelf - and then to reserve online. You can create WorldCat lists, or - my favorite trick - get citations in five common styles, and export them to a variety of formats including EndNote and RefWorks. Instant Works Cited - even if you don't have the title in hand!

If you like to add your audiobooks to LibraryThing, GoodReads, or Shelfari and you find only the print title's info, pop over to WorldCat to grab the audiobook edition information!

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Audiobooks & Social Networks

Social Networks that connect book lovers - Shelfari, LibraryThing, Facebook's iRead (soon to be WeRead), & GoodReads - have been in the news recently. Tim O'Reilly had a great post on the topic this week: Social Networking for Books: One Ring, or Loosely Joined? I completely agree with his remarks that we all tend to stick to the network that we first use. But I had to leave a comment on his post about the fact that all of the book social networks have very active audiobook aficionados posting their recommendations. Just search for the tag "audiobook" and see what other listeners are recommending! Wouldn't it be great if audiobook publishers would add their titles to the networks, so that we wouldn't have to use & edit the print title covers & information? And the ability to add or link to a sample clip of the audiobook would be awesome!

I try to keep my LibraryThing audiobook list current - and am usually way behind, especially at the start of the school year! And although I've set up accounts at the other networks, I can't say I've been back more than a handful of times. Sort of like me & the whole Twitter thing. I did once look at FriendFeed, and was boggled by the possibilities. I'd be able to keep up with all the great Web 2.0 connections, if only I didn't have to sleep & work ;-) Any audiobook social network libraries out there that you'd like to recommend?

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Audiobooks a chapter at a time for cell phones

I'd love to see this type of marketing here in the U.S.! This title from Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) is the perfect match for tweens who shop at Claire's. Interesting comments in this article from the U.K.'s - especially the view that current phone technology is great for audiobooks, but not quite ready for eBooks. Here's the whole article:

Mobile services provider ICUE has launched a marketing campaign to offer Claire's Accessories customers a free chapter download of a Macmillan title: Ugenia Lavender and the Lovely Illness by Geri Halliwell.

The campaign marks a change in strategy for the company, away from downloading whole books on mobile phones in favour of chapter sample downloads. ICUE is now working with both adult and children's publishers to develop marketing campaigns including chapter downloads, mobile web advertising and tagging for outdoor marketing.

Managing director Jane Tappuni said: "We found that the English-speaking market was not ready to read books on mobile phones and that the mobile phone technology also needs to develop, so we have put book downloads on ice for now."

For the latest campaign, ICUE has partnered with mobile phone provider ROK. A "mobile magazine" is sent to opted-in Claire's Accessories customers, who are asked if they want a chapter download of Halliwell's book. This is offered in 16 Claire's Accessories branches and is expected to go nationwide to all 320.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Britain's Booker Prize on your phone

More on audiobooks in England from

For the first time, UK mobile phone users will be able to download free extracts from titles selected for this year’s Man Booker prize when the shortlist is announced on 9th September.

The Man Booker Prize has exclusively partnered with mobile site; it is the first time that any book prize has used mobile technology to promote its shortlist. Jonathan Taylor, chairman of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: "After 40 years making the headlines in the literary world, it is good that the Man Booker Prize is now taking a lead in the world of new technology."

As soon as the shortlist is revealed, the public will immediately be able to text MBP to 60300 to download a free extract of their chosen title to read as text or listen to as audio. They can then order a hard copy of the book to be delivered directly to their door, or download the full audio version. The cost will be added to their mobile phone bill.
Here's a link to the original article by Katie Allen.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Times Audiobook Festival

Audiobook fans will want to listen in to the podcasts of The Times of London Online Audiobook Festival. You'll hear a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the British audiobook world, where abridgments are common. Interviews with top audiobook actors, including Andrew Sachs (best known as Manuel in Fawlty Towers), Lorelei King, and Neville Jason, are included. You'll also hear producers, abridgers, and representatives from download services such as Go Spoken. Great stuff! Here is the line up:

The online audio festivat: Panel 1 - Audio Abridgment

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Recommended MP3 players for downloading audiobooks from public library

Wondering about which MP3 player to purchase to make the best use of the FREE downloadable audiobooks, videos, and eBooks from your public library's website? Check out a great article by Jasmine France on CNET. I'd add two more player to the recommended list: the Creative MuVo T200 - a great little player you can throw against a wall or punish with a trip through the washer & dryer, and it will still work. Perfect for teachers or school libraries to buy & circulate to students! And I keep a low-cost SanDisk Sansa m250 in my gym bag. Check online for some great deals on the Sansa. I agree with France's recommendations - we have a Creative Zen V Plus, and it's my current favorite player for library downloads, as most public library download services require a Windows-based player. But think of it this way: for the cost of a single audiobook on CD from your local bookstore, you can buy a player that will enable you to download hundreds of favorites for free. I am looking forward to downloading titles to one of my iPods from my local library's OverDrive service soon, as more public libraries add titles without Digital Rights Management to the collection. Read this Library Journal article for more details.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Brisingr: Listen to the language

Getting ready for the release of newest title in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini on September 20th? Here's a great way to promote the amazing performance by Gerard Doyle, who will continue his readings on the audiobook of Brisingr. Random House has created an Inheritance audio quiz - take a look at Ancient Language Quiz #1 and Quiz #2 The answers to the the quizzes are in the rest of the materials included in a batch of great Release Day events which include iron-ons and even a Brisingr tattoo! There's also a recorded message from Paolini for fans. Great way to include the audiobook series fans who prefered Doyle's tour-de-force narration of Eragon & Eldest in the release date excitment!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Kindle and audiobooks: resource roundup

Kindles & audiobooks – I’ve been searching for information, as I am trying to justify the purchase of a new shiny toy and am trying to decide between devices that can double as both audiobook players and eBook readers. Here’s a random round-up of items that I found interesting:

Kindle User's Guide

Audible’s Kindle User’s Guide

Scott Hansen’s on Amazon Kindle

Amazon’s Listening to Audio Books on Your Kindle

Dear Jeff, Please fix and, oh yeah, make the Kindle stop hating Mac users

MacWorld’s Why Amazon’s Kindle is Revolutionary (includes what you don’t know)

Audiobooks Easier Than Ever - Amazon Kindle

MP3s on the Kindle

How to Listen to Audiobooks on Kindle

How to Listen to Background Music While Reading on the Kindle - This tells how to listen to an MP3 audiobook while reading on the Kindle – which answers my question about the Tantor Unabridged Classics on a Kindle.

Library Journal Editorial: To Kindle or Not – Must reading for anyone interested in taking advantage of the free loan of audiobooks through the public library

Could iPhone smoke the Kindle? Hmm.. another shiny toy

And here is a great quote from Tom Peters on the ALA TechSource blog about the need for the Kindle to be able to Toggle from print to audio:

The Kindle seems like a nice device, but there's always more that could be included in the next iteration. I like to read both visually and aurally, but usually not at the same time. I did spot a headphones jack on one side of the Kindle in one of the videos, but I cannot find mention of the possibilities for any type of aural reading experience. An immersive listening experience with a good downloadable digital audio book is a wonderful thing. Can the Kindle handle audio books? Better yet, is there good text-to-speech software included so that I can switch from visual reading to aural reading in the middle of a book, as I get up from my easy chair (and watch Max my dog quickly jump into that warm spot) and head off in my car to take my older son to piano practice?

Feel free to add any resources I missed as a comment!

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