Friday, 21 October 2011

Let's hear it for audio!

Sound editor Al Muirden is a fan - of audio books!

This week, I want to talk about something very close to our hearts here at CC - the often misunderstood audio book.

These days, we regularly read in the press how the eBook is challenging the traditional printed word when it comes to sales of published works and indeed, how successful the eBook has become - this is great news for Creative Content of course. Most purchasers get what the printed and eBook formats are about - unfortunately, this confidence isn’t always matched where audio books are concerned.

Don’t get me wrong - audio book sales are strong, especially in the US, but things could be a lot better if people just understood a little more about the product and what goes into making it special.

Whenever I mention in conversation that I edit audio books, you can most often see people eyes glaze over - I’m sure when I explain what I do to the uninitiated, people think that any old someone just goes in and reads the book out loud in some sort of dull monotone with no characterisation - oh dear, how wrong they are! I don’t think that booksellers quite get it either sometimes when their audio sections are labelled as Spoken Word - this immediately conjures up the old monotone/boring/send you to sleep idea for many - not good and also not accurate!

The bar is definitely set high when it comes to the skills needed by a great audio narrator. Most are actors and so already have the attributes needed to assume a character’s persona - in works of audio fiction, where there can be many such personalities, this is imperative. Lorelei, as an award winning audio narrator is at the top of the tree* - she and other quality narrators out there don’t just read the books when they record - they perform them, bringing life to the characters with accents and individuality - and in doing so make the words become cinematic and most importantly - bring the book to life!

Creative Content publish a lot of business and self-help titles and whilst in most cases there are no characters as such, a skilled narrator can make non-fiction titles a very interesting listen - believe me, I’ve heard a wide range of readers and subject matter and with a great narrator/producer/editor team, they are truly a million miles away from monotone! I even heard a Social Work title recently that included quotes from real trainees and the various people were all given the appropriate (different) accents by the narrator - this was then further enhanced in the edit and the end product was a fascinating listen.

So in summary, I’m saying that there are THREE formats out there, not just hardcover and eBook - audio is more than a match for its two more popular and well known brothers. Give your ears an airing and see how books come alive in audio! - AM    

*Aw, thanks Al! Cheque's in the post.... :o) LK

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