Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nerdfighters! Watch John Green talk about his new audiobook Paper Towns

John Green visited Brilliance Audio's recording of his new book Paper Towns - and gives you a video tour on his Nerfighter blog.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Friedman Freebie: The World is Flat!

Thomas Friedman is promoting his new book Hot Flat and Crowded by giving away the audiobook of his mega-bestseller The World is Flat for FREE. Grab it fast - the offer expires August 4th!

Image from

Who says YA audiobooks are dead? Maybe YA listeners are waiting for the death of CDs!

Are audiobooks dead media for teens? Au contraire! Random House Audio announces that Breaking Dawn will have an initial audio print run of 35,000 copies - admittedly less than the 3.2 million copy print run, but numbers that put a stake in the heart of nearly all adult titles. I will be interested to see the number of downloads of the much-anticipated August 2nd release that are purchased from Audible, iTunes, eMusic, or Random House. The comparison between Breaking Dawn CD sales and download sales will give a good snapshot of YA listening trends.

Most YAs I know don't own a CD player, and merely use an audiobook on CD as a vehicle to rip the title onto an MP3 player. Adults who look at the usage of audiobooks on CD to make assumptions about the potential for YA use of audiobooks neglect the reality of YA media use. For many YAs, the CD is just as dead as the cassette. Be sure to read the July 28 New York Times story Say So Long to an Old Companion: Cassette Tapes - good coverage of slow death of audiobooks on cassette, featuring Hachette's cassette wake. In the Times article, Recorded Book's
Brian Downing predicts the cassette's last gasp will be in three year's time. Oddly, three years is my prediction of when cell phones will be the primary audiobook player.

So many predictions and marketing decisions about audiobooks are focused through an adult's eye - which, like my own, are often wearing reading glasses! I'd love to see more decisions based on the input of teens & kids - perhaps using the model of ALA's participation of teens in the deliberations of the Best Books for Young Adults committee meetings. Here's a great VOYA article on YALSA's Power of Radically Trusting Teens.

I've got a question that I will be asking my student audiobook listeners: "When you rip an audiobook on CD to your iPod as a single audio file, how do you feel about the side tag announcement?" I'm betting that the disruption of the audiobook by the announcement "This is the end of CD one" is a major annoyance for listeners who live totally in the digital world, and have not developed their audiobook listening habits on cassettes whose format necessitated such tags.

And just for fun... For those of you who have lost your heart to Edward:
I found a date through zombie harmony - one of the best free dating sites for zombies
Created by (Dating for non-zombies)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

MP3 players: Assessing Accessiblity

Do you plan to buy a new personal MP3 for your audiobook listening? Will you be adding iPods or Windows-based MP3 players to your public or school library collection for patron checkout, increasing your patron's use of subscription download services such as OverDrive or NetLibrary? Perhaps you are a classroom or special education teacher looking for a way to make use of the public library's free audiobook downloads by having MP3 players, a Sony E Reader or Kindle for student use. Be sure to take a look at these recommendations of mainstream audio players from the American Foundation for the Blind. Here's what the project is all about:

Thanks to grants from the Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation and the Huntington Foundation, AFB TECH has been evaluating the accessibility of what we call portable media players. Our project has focused on using these players with digital music, books, and other sources of digital information. Apple's iPod is certainly the most well-known product in this category of devices, which are sometimes referred to as MP3 players or digital audio players. For this project, we gathered the current line of Apple iPods, but we also examined several other mainstream devices, including the Creative Technology line of players, the Microsoft Zune, the Sony Walkman and E Reader, the Amazon Kindle, and the Olympus DS-50 digital voice recorder.
Great information for any audio player user - with important accessibility issues to kind in mind.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mac text file to iTunes audiobook file: Speak to iTunes

Here's something interesting. Computer Science PhD student Michael Tyson from Melbourne, Australia has created a program, Speak to iTunes, that will convert a text file to an AAC encoded file that iTunes will import as an audiobook. This sounds like a great way for Mac users to take advantage of some of those free eBook promotions that publishers have been providing, not to mention all of the public domain titles available as PDFs, allowing readers to toggle from print to audio. I can also see multi-tasking students converting class notes or study guides into audio files for easy review on the iPod - and using the iPod variable speed audiobook control to slow down or speed up the audio. Special Education teachers exploring ways to integrate audio in their instruction may want to try this out!

Image from

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nonfiction Monday: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers - the Movie

Hooray! There's a new film documentary, Man on Wire, that shows the true events that inspired Mordicai Gerstein's Caldecott Award-winning "The Man Who Walked Between the Towers" (available as an audiobook read by the author from Live Oak Media, who provides this Teaching Guide). What a wonderful addition to any classroom units that include this amazing nonfiction picture book, that focus on the Twin Towers and September 11th, or simply for pure inspiration. You can see the video movie trailer & find more information about the movie on Here's the synopsis:

A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."Image from

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tantor's new Unabridged Classics - Kindle audiobook listener request

Although I have a weakness for shiny new tech toys, I have not yet entered the world of Kindles. However, I am very intrigued by the Kindle's ability to both display text and play audio files. The combination of both allows the Kindle to be a perfect tool for toggling - switching from print to audiobook as the situation requires. Tantor Audio has the perfect product to test this ability - the most excellent Unabridged Classic series. Time-tested titles ranging from The Secret Garden to The Art of War are given star treatment, with top-notch production and the best audiobook narrators. But the truly innovative touch is the inclusion of the complete title on PDF, ready for download to your computer. And at a super-low price, like Frankenstein narrated by Simon Vance for just $15.99 in the very cool single disc version, which includes both the MP3 audiobook & entire book on PDF !

So here's my request for any Kindle-owning readers: Get your hands on a Tantor Unabridged Classic. Add the audio file to the Kindle. Follow these tips from Joe Wilkert on the TeleRead blog for converting a PDF to a readable Kindle file. Listen when you feel like listening. Read when you feel like reading. Lord knows it drives me insane, but some might like to follow the text while listening. But most of all, leave a comment and let me know if this is possible!

I love this quote from Library Journal's Editor-in-Chief Francine Fialkoff in her editorial Beyond the Kindle:

The confluence of these digital formats, whether print, audio, or video, creates the potential for transition, while the high cost of paper and fuel and the slow growth of publishing ensure that it will come sooner rather than later.
Looks like Tantor Media is embracing the idea!

Image from

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Savvy by Ingrid Law - free Ebook & audio chapter!

During the recent ALA conference, I had the honor of being part of the "Got Tweens? Serving Younger Teens and Tweens" YALSA preconference led by Teri Lesesne. Those of us in attendance had the pleasure of hearing an amazing collection of established authors: Lisa Yee, Amy Goldman Koss, Lisi Harrison, Jon Scieszka, and Bruce Hale. Plus, we all met first-time author Ingrid Law, who shared the background of her just-released book Savvy, a story about book about magic (without using the word magic) which was named a Boston Globe - Horn Book Honor Award title. Walden Media has a terrific website for the novel It includes games, a map, an online bookclub, a FREE download of the entire book through July 20th, and the first chapter of the audiobook of Savvy, published by Penguin Audio. Great marketing for a captivating tale!

Image from

Friday, July 18, 2008

Xrecode: convert all popular audiofiles, and split into tracks

Audiobook listeners are always looking for new tools. Lifehacker had this tip about a great free Windows download that will convert any popular audiofile (like MP3) to any other audiofile type (like M4A or WMA). Plus, you can split large audio files to smaller parts - no more downloading one long 15+ hour audiobook file from the public library. Super easy to use - just drag and drop. So give Xrecode a try. It looks like a great option to Audiobook Cutter!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mandela's Folktales, with Archbishop Tutu & celebrity readers

Here's an advance (VERY advance) press release about an audiobook that sounds like a must-listen:

In honor of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday this week, Artists for a New South Africa announced plans to produce an audiobook version of Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales, an award-winning book of legendary tales hand-picked by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. An array of celebrated, award-winning performers are donating their talents to the charitable endeavor; those already signed on to voice stories include Gillian Anderson, America Ferrera, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Alan Rickman and Jurnee Smollett. Nobel laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will record a special message to the world’s children that will be featured on the audiobook.

The audiobook, slated for a Summer 2009 release, will be published and distributed by Hachette Audio. Proceeds will benefit the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF), a South African organization founded in 1995 to improve dramatically the way society treats its children; and ANSA, which works in the U.S. and South Africa to combat HIV/AIDS, provide comprehensive assistance to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, advance human rights, educate and empower at-risk youth and build bonds between both nations through arts, culture and the shared pursuit of social justice. Both organizations are working to address the impact of the AIDS pandemic on children in South Africa, which has more people living with HIV/AIDS and more children orphaned by the disease than any other country.

Image from:

Need a suggestion for some exceptionally well-performed audiobooks?

That's the request that was asked on the Ask MetaFilter site. The "hive mind" results will give you a huge list of great audiobook suggestions - from young adult & children's lit to classics & adult bestsellers. See if you agree with the titles that have made the list - and add a few of your own!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Burkey for President?

Just for fun -watch this video - then pass it along ;-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Borders adds online audiobook store and celebrates with Into the Wild for free and Twilight for $9.95!

Today's Publishers Weekly had this story on adding an audiobook store with MP3 titles that can be downloaded to any player - from iPod to Windows-based. We learned about Borders' download stations in their stores last February . To celebrate their new audiobook download partnership with OverDrive Media, Borders has some hot deals. From now through July 19th, grab a free download of Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, narrated by Philip Franklin for FREE - just click here. Plus, there are fifteen bestsellers for just $9.95 each through July 22nd. This offer includes Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Obama's The Audacity of Hope, and Douglas Adams' The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Perfect timing for summertime listening!

Image from

Looking for free audiobooks?

Here's a great website that will help you save money! Just Free Books has this great mission:

JustFreeBooks search the content of more than 450 web sites, including, and With JustFreeBooks you can find public domain texts, open books, free audio books, ad-supported books and more. Just type in the search box the book, author or theme you want to find.
You can even narrow your search to just those titles in either English, French, or Spanish - give it a try!

Image from

Monday, July 14, 2008

Scott Brick to teach audiobook narration

Are you a Scott Brick fan in California? Have you always thought you'd make a great audiobook narrator? Well, you can sign up for an Audiobook Narration Techniques class taught by Brick himself. The event will take place July 27th at Nakamoto Productions in Sacremento. For more information, read this post on Scott Brick's blog. And while you are visiting Brick's blog, check out the collection of great articles on the "Press" page. Interesting reading for anyone interested in audiobooks!

Image from

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Twilight Saga - it's better than TV!

For those you you awaiting the audiobook of Breaking Dawn - here is a great New York Times piece A Virginal Goth Girl by Gail Collins that reflects on the attraction of the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. So good I just had to pass along!

Image from

The Disappeared by Rusch - free from Audible Frontiers

Another great freebie - this time from Audible Frontiers, Audible's new Science Fiction store-within-a-store. You can download Kristine Kathryn Rusch's The Disapeared through July 27th. From Audible's description:

Retrieval artists help the lost find their way back home, whether they like it or not. Specialized private detectives, they investigate the most unusual crimes in the galaxy. But Miles Flint isn't a Retrieval artist. He's just a cop, trying to do his job.

In a stolen space yacht, three people have been found eviscerated - the grisly signature of an alien vengeance killing. Moments later, the border patrol halts another ship launched out of the Moon's orbit. Its passengers are two human children, kidnapped by the most ruthless aliens in the universe.

Both ships are linked to a woman on the run: a Disappeared relocated to the inhospitable landscape of Mars. A reluctant outlaw with a bounty on her head and a detective on her case, she's about to teach all of them a lesson: it's dangerous to gamble with your life in a universe that rigs the game.
Ever wonder why audiobook publishers do these great free give-aways? You might find the answer in this TeleRead post from Simon Owens. He explores the interesting fact that when Tor Books releases free downloads of eBooks titles, there is a strong after-effect boost in sales of the print edition.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Orson Scott Card recommends The Thirteenth Tale - as an audiobook

One of the highlights of the 2008 American Library Association's Annual Conference was the Margaret Edwards Award ceremony, where Orson Scott Card was honored for his lifetime contribution to writing for teens for his novels “Ender's Game” and “Ender's Shadow.” What a memorable and moving lecture - be sure to read Card's address in the upcoming Fall issue of YALS !

If you were in the audience, you heard Card recommend his favorite book: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. But more importantly, when Card spoke about reading The Thirteenth Tale, he described how he remained in his car to hear the story continue. Yes, that's right - Orson Scott Card read the book by listening. To find out more about Card's reaction to the audiobook, read his blog post here.

I know I will be listening to the unabridged audiobook read by Bianca Amato and Jill Tanner - here's an audio clip. But be very careful! Simon and Schuster Audio has released TWO versions of The Thirteenth Tale on CD - there is an abridged version read by Lynn Redgrave & Ruthie Henshall. If you want to hear the whole book, check the narrators!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer car trips - Avis and FREE audiobooks!

Another great audiobook freebie from Avis Car Rental - now through Sept. 30th, get a free audiobook download & 10 free songs from eMusic with every five-day rental from Avis! Bonus - eMusic provides DRM-free MP3 downloads that can be played on iPods, Windows-based players, or burned to CD.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Just One More Book!

I love hearing from other bloggers about their projects. I'd like to pass along a great podcast blog: Just One More Book! Here's the description:

"Just One More Book!" is a thrice-weekly podcast which promotes and celebrates literacy and great children's books. Each weekday morning, we take a few minutes out of our morning coffee ritual to discuss one of our many favourite children's books. We also feature weekly interviews with authors, illustrators and experts and enthusiasts in the areas of children's literature and literacy as well as listener-submitted book reviews.

Through this podcast and website, we are building a lively, interactive community linking children's book authors, illustrators, readers (parents, children, librarians, teachers and literacy activists) and publishers.

Busy parents and educators can now discover great read-aloud children's books while they are busy doing the many tasks that would otherwise rob them of the opportunity to research great children's books in more traditional ways.

Our guests have included celebrity authors such as Sheree Fitch, Rachna Gilmore, Jack Prelutsky, Daniel Pinkwater, Eve Bunting, Eva Ibbotson, Henry Winkler and Mary Ann Hoberman and celebrity illustrators such as Mo Willems, Bob Staake, Marc Brown, Oliver Jeffers, Simon James, Jane Ray, Wallace Edwards and Kevin Hawkes.
We have also aimed the spotlight at interesting and lesser known authors and illustrators. Episodes range in length from 5 to 25 minutes and can be played directly from our web page or downloaded to a portable mp3 player, such as an iPod, for listening on the go.

This podcast is powered by passion. We have no advertisers or sponsors. Our goals are to link children with great books and to help create happy memories for children and the adults that read to them…and to have fun!

The Just One More Book! Podcast has been recommended by the American Library Association as one of its 2007 American Library Association (ALA) - Great web sites for kids and has been featured in Canadian Living Magazine and such prestigious literary publications as School Library Journal, Books for Keeps and Publishers Weekly. We are also regular contributors to ChildsLife, The Edge of the Forest and Parent Source online newsletters. Watch for us this July in Parenting Magazine.

Image from
"A podcast about the children's books we love and why we love them -- recorded in our favourite coffee shop"

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Paulo Coehlo - The Alchemist - Free!

Just in case you haven't seen this yet... You can download Paulo Coehlo's newest title "The Alchemist" for FREE if you have an iTunes account. The 4 hour unabridged audiobook from HarperAudio is narrated by Jeremy Irons. But hurry - the offer is only good until July 14th.

Roald Dahl Funny Prize

What a great idea! The United Kingdom's Booktrust, in cooperation with UK Children's Laureate Michael Rosen, has announced the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, with the first honorees to be named in November 2008. This award will recognize two winners - the funniest book for readers six and under, and the funniest for those age seven to fourteen - with a cash prize equal to approximately $5,000. A short list of nominated titles will be announced in September, to coincide with the third Roald Dahl Day on Sept. 13th. Especially satisfying is the fact that Sophie Dahl, eldest grandchild of Roald Dahl and the inspiration for the character of Sophie in The BFG (and former supermodel) , will be one of the judges! Funny books truly shine as audiobooks - all of these Dahl titles are fantastic, with readers ranging from Monty Python's Eric Idle to Jeremy Irons and Dahl himself. Perfect for family-favorite summer car trips!

Monday, July 7, 2008

There's a great program called Bit o' Lit, featured on NPR today. Founder Shannon Macdonald coordinates the distribution of a free magazine to Washington D.C. Metro riders which filled with short excerpts from fiction and non-fiction books - a great way to hook commuters on new books. The Bit o' Lit website has more info, including some great articles. I especially liked "Getting Kids to Read: Why Turning Off the TV Isn't Enough." The article has great tips that teachers & librarians will want to pass on to parents. But I noticed something missing from the article: digital media. So I emailed Ms. Macdonald suggesting that non-print reading motivators for kids such as audiobooks, e-books, computer-based reading, and video book trailers be the subject of an upcoming article. Such items were part of a Bit o' Lit article aimed toward adults, but absent from the kid-focused tips. Perhaps Bit o' Lit might start an electronic newsletter targeted to young digital natives!

Image from

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Readius: I want this shiny toy!

Wow - I really want this cool new cellphone with a display made for e-books: the Readius. The New York Times has a great story that describes all the features: the E Ink display (same as the Kindle), wireless downloads of email & books, ability to play music or audiobooks, standard cell phone capabilities. But the cool factor? The flexible 5-inch screen that rolls up into the body of the phone, resulting in a small package. Check out the Readius website for more info and a closer look, including videos. There's even a full-color prototype!

But don't put this on your gift list just yet - it will be available in England, Italy and Germany first, and won't hit the US until 2009. But here is just one more product that will make my prediction come true: cell phones will be the primary audiobook (and e-book) player. How long will this take? I'm guessing three more years. Your prediction?

Image from

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Odyssey Award Podcast

YALSA's Linda Braun has posted the Odyssey Award podcast here. There is some great stuff - Bruce Coville's thoughtful remarks, Arnie Cardillo's behind-the-scenes look at what makes a winning audiobook, and Simon Vance's wonderful readings & anecdotes. Learn more details about the event here. Look for a future post with Jim Dale's video from the Odyssey Award Celebration!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Odyssey Award Celebration at ALA Anaheim

What a wonderful night! The Booklist Magazine Books for Youth Forum at the American Library Association conference in Anaheim celebrated the very first Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production. Stephanie Zvirin welcomed the standing-room-only audience of 500 or so with the bittersweet announcement that this was her last Forum, as she will be leaving her post as Booklist's Books for Youth Editor after more than 30 years. Sue-Ellen Beauregard, Booklist's Media Editor, served as the event moderator, introducing author & Full Cast Audio's Bruce Coville whose Homeric words proved to be the perfect symbolic Champagne-bottle-smash to set the Odyssey off on its voyage. His ritual shedding of the jacket is now an entrenched part of the finest ALA gala events - as was echoed by Lynn Rutan at the 2008 Printz Award ceremony. Next, I had the honor to thank the awesome members of the Best. Committee. Ever. Those wonderful women made my year as chair of the Odyssey Award the best year ever!

The fantastic ALSC staff coordinated the creation of the Odyssey Honor plaques (equal to the Newbery & Caldecott). I had the privilege to present the Honor recognition to Listen & Live Audio for Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy; Weston Woods for Dooby Dooby Moo; Listening Library for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; HarperChildren's Audio for Skulduggery Pleasant; and Listening Library for Treasure Island.

The highlight of the evening was the standing ovation for 2008 Odyssey Award winner Arnie Cardillo of Live Oak Media as he took the stage to accept the beautiful gold medal for his production of Jazz. He spoke to the audience about the amazing collaboration between author Walter Dean Myers, illustrator Christopher Myers, and the 15-member Live Oak production team that worked for five months to create the 42-minute readalong audiobook. The perfect end to the program were the witty & warm remarks and mesmerizing readings from audiobook narrator extraordinaire Simon Vance, recently honored with the title "Voice of Choice" by Booklist Magazine. Who knew that this was his very first public speaking appearance after over 400 audiobooks & stage, screen, and TV acting career!?! The final touch was an appearance by Harry Potter narrator Jim Dale via recorded DVD, who elicited fan-girl squeals from Odyssey committee members when he gave them his special thanks. When we looked out from the stage and saw Newbery-winning authors sitting on the floor throughout the night, we knew this was a night to remember!

I recorded the event, which will soon be posted as a podcast on the YALSA website. Hopefully, we will also post Jim Dale's video. I'll post links here as soon as possible. I was too busy to take pictures so thanks to goreygirl72 at for the above image! I will try gather some other pictures & post later.

I'll leave you with this great review of Jazz from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. It declares that Jazz is the best audiobook for Friday night wind-down with the family and includes the great suggestion "Let kids hear the poems and page through illustrations while parents cook dinner and relax with a cocktail."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Feel the joy

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Back from ALA with just about enough energy to go through email & blogposts. Hope you enjoy this video!