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!

Image from

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.

Image from

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?

Image from

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

Image from

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!

Image from

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!

Images from