June/July 2018

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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• How long did it take you to listen to the audiobook in full? Was that length of time part of your enjoy- ment because it hit your personal sweet spot for listening consumption comfort? Was it easy to take breaks and then become immersed in it during your next listening session? • Did you have the pleasure of hear- ing words you may have seen but didn't know how to pronounce? • Related to that last bullet point: Are you drawn to voices—from authors and narrators alike—that bring you authentic experiences with cultures and languages other than your own? Now that you have a good sense of what appeals to you in an audiobook performance, try interviewing other listeners—your partner, a student, a friend—and see how your answers compare with theirs. Finding con- trasts can help each of you better define what you like about reading with your ears. Of course authors, narrators, and subject matter naturally play a role in what a good listen-alike might be for you. However, these person- and print-based appeals are themselves only aspects of the audiobook expe- rience, so keep your mind open for more. Check out the fun details about how AudioFile incorporates listen-alike recommendations into the summer SYNC program of Audiobooks for Teens on each selected title's down- load page. [See] If you really don't find anything auditory that you enjoy for itself, you may be consuming audiobooks as a substitute when it's not possible for you to read. But even so, keep your ears open by experimenting with different performance styles, listening lengths, or listening situations. You'll have a head start because now you have the questions you can ask yourself as you listen more conscientiously. Audiobooks and Literacy Auditory Appeal When selecting an audiobook, many listeners base the choice on the author, the subject matter or genre, and perhaps a favorite narrator. However, listen-alikes are about more than similarities of content and talented writers and narrators. Listen-alikes are about the entire experience of reading with your ears. Today, with more and more libraries offering listening advice along with traditional readers' advisory services, there's plenty of help available for listeners who want a particular kind of performance. When you listen to a book, what engages you most about the produc- tion? This is the core question for finding listen-alikes. Some listeners find a full cast helps them sink right into the listening experience, while others prefer a single narrator. The speed of a production as it is served to listeners can matter to some, espe- cially when the content is either quite complex or simply "listening candy." Sound effects may appeal to some listeners but distract others. For lis- teners who consume audiobooks from a variety of genres, or for a variety of reasons, there may well be different appeal categories that feel comfortable depending on the reason for listening to a specific audiobook. How can you learn more about those listening appeals? Start with these questions, focusing on the lis- tening experience of an audiobook that has given you the greatest pleasure recently: • How was it performed? Was it nar- rated by a single reader who created a variety of voices, or by a single reader who created no voices other than a pleasing tone and pacing that matched the content? Maybe it was a pair of narrators who switched off, perhaps between chapters or as viewpoints in the narrative changed? Or a full cast that played all the char- acters, with added sound effects? • What was the reading pace (without your making any adjustment to how it was produced intentionally)? • If you were multi-tasking while lis- tening—anything from commuting to cleaning house—how much atten- tion were you giving to the listening experience? Remember, you're thinking of an audiobook you loved hearing, so the amount of attention you were able to provide also indi- cates an element of what you enjoyed about the production. @AudioFileMag By Francisca Goldsmith 68 n AudioFile/

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