August/September 2020

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Over the last few months many of us have developed a new under- standing of isolation. We may have been isolated from family, friends, or colleagues (or all of the above). The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have affected us all—changing home and work environments and the basic routines of life. Audiobooks have taken on new significance for both listeners and for the narrators of audio- books. Isolation plays a roll for both groups. Audiobook narrators are accustomed to isolation, as they are primarily alone in the recording booth. Since March even narrators who record in commercial studios have made adjustments to home studios. They don't call recording rooms "isolation booths" for nothing. The quarantine has confined everyone to working even more alone. Narrator Joe Arden wrote me about "the beautiful irony of an industry for which quaran- tine/isolation is an occupational hazard being able to connect and reach so many people during a global quarantine." The listening experience created by narrators is passed on to an audi- ence that is also isolated. Audiobooks have provided a balm, a diversion, and an escape for countless listeners. Some families have found new value and entertainment with shared audiobook listening—don't smart home devices like Alexa or Google Home make that easy! For some of our essential workers the solace of storytelling has brought relief after long, stress-filled hours. A nurse in Houston shared her appreciation and gratitude to a narrator, "There are more days than not where I get off work and just have to break down and cry. But then I put my headset on, pick up one of your audiobooks, and for a few hours I have an escape . . . a reprieve of sorts. I am able to relax and just let go." In another message, a listener says that audiobooks give her "an escape without going out." The use of audiobooks for listeners of all ages has surged in the last few months. And responding to the closure of schools, publishers have worked with companies like Overdrive to provide school programs with thousands of free audiobooks. At AudioFile we have seen (welcome) spikes in visitors and print subscription requests. We are pleased that more and more listeners are looking for our recommendations to make their listening choices. Our AudioFile reviewers have been busy as well— some have increased listening and reviewing time, while others lost their commute-listening time due to the quarantine. We appreciate the duality of the isolation of the creative recording process and the resulting listening experiences that lighten the isolation caused by the pandemic. Thank you to the narrators for the joy and escape you bring us! Audiobooks and Isolation Editor's Notes Photo by Kevin Brusie Robin Whitten Editor and Founder Inside Track Subscribe to the Print Magazine subscription/subscribe Sign Up for Free E-Newsletters email-subscribe August/September 2020 n 5

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