The latest big thing among my author friends seems to be getting their books into audiobook format. Here’s an article from Forbes about the popularity of listening to books.
A few years back, I checked out several audiobooks from my local library to listen to while I drove, did housework, or worked on crafts. On balance, I didn’t enjoy them much. There was the obvious problem of listening to shared disks–skipping! Of course this was a technical problem not an artistic one.
While the quality of the writing had an impact, the biggest turn-off with audiobooks had to do with the way the recording artist handled dialogue. One thriller that I listened to had a heroine who was an Eastern European scientist. The male actor reading the book spoke her lines of dialogue in a forced, accented, falsetto. Lines of dialogue that were supposed to be dramatic were so hilarious they completely threw me out of the story.
Veronica Scott says she gets around this problem by using both a male and a female actor for her books. Dee J. Adams does her own recordings (only because she is also a professional actress) and said she makes subtle changes in pitch for different characters.
So in the interest of research, I recently checked out some more audiobooks from my library. Aargh–the skipping problem occurred again. (Note to self–downloads, not disks.)
I listened to the beginnings of a few books–mixed results again–but I found one book, Out of Control, by Suzanne Brockmann, totally engaging. The actress reading the story, Norma Lane, moved back and forth between female characters and male characters smoothly and subtly.
However, there was one more annoyance with that audiobook: listening to the story was too slow for me. I wound up buying a Kindle copy and finishing the rest of the story in half the time it would have taken to listen to it.
My friends with long driving commutes and vision problems love audiobooks. Do you like them? Why–or why not? As I figure out what to do with my own books, I would love to hear your thoughts!
Images: Wikimedia, Amazon (Out of Control book cover)