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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