Let’s Love Audiobooks!
Another program at my state’s 2019 library convention was audiobook advisory. Between this and the fact Iwork at a talking book and braille library, there are quite a few good tips for audiobook reader’s advisory.
A good audiobook will be a well-done recording. The narrator(s) will evoke emotion as they read. There may even be slight changes to the voice for each character. If a song excerpt is included, that may be sung instead of spoken. In essence, a good recording, like a good book in print, places you in the heart of the story instead of being an observer of the plot.
As pointed out at the conference, but I often forget about, there are audiobook awards. These awards highlight the excellence not just the text of the book, but also it’s narration. In fact, the narration is likely more important. Consider reading about or trying to listen to one of these award-winning titles. The awards lists that can be viewed without a subscription to Booklist are:
Other ideas that came from the conference focused on how to build audiobook reader advisory skills included:
- Listen to an old favorite originally read in print (to see the different ways you react)
- Listen to a memoir (to see how it places one in the action)
- Listen to a classic (to see the different ways you react or to finally read a classic you’d been avoiding)
- Listen to a podcast (these often have lively narration to enjoy)
And in my opinion, expand on this list by:
- Listen to a narrator who your patrons enjoy
- Try books with both a single narrator and multiple to see the difference
- Listen to a book narrated by the author
- List to books recorded from a variety of audiobook producers as not all recordings are created equally (for example, there is producer I refuse to listen to anymore!*)
The skills that should be no-brainers include:
- Read both reviews on print and audio versions of books
- Know what narrators are popular at your library (these may not be the same everywhere).
- Ask your coworkers for ideas; everyone has their own preferences so use their knowledge to your patron’s advantage.
Lastly, in my experience at a talking book library:
- The narrator is just as important as the story or author. If the reader doesn’t connect with the narrator, they often will not finish the book. The reader may also want to avoid this narrator going forward.
- Those with hearing issues will prefer male narrators as the lower pitch is easier to listen to.
- Books that incorporate music or sound effects lead to mixed feelings. Some love them; others hate them.
- Footnotes and bibliographies may or may not be included. For commercial audiobook publishers, it depends on the publisher. For National Library Service recorded books, the bibliography is always included, but footnotes may or may not be.
I hope these tips help you out!
*This publisher, whom I will not name, tends to have books that are read in a monotone voice. They lack the liveliness of narration every other producer has.