Want to Read Michael Lewis’s Next Work? You’ll Be Able to Listen to It First

From The New York Times:

When Michael Lewis had an idea for his next book, a contemporary political narrative, he decided he would test it out first as a 10,000-word magazine article, as he often does before committing to a yearslong project.

But this time he made a surprising pivot. Instead of publishing the story in Vanity Fair, where he has been a contributing writer for nearly a decade, he sold it to Audible, the audiobook publisher and retailer.

“You’re not going to be able to read it, you’re only going to be able to listen to it,” Mr. Lewis said. “I’ve become Audible’s first magazine writer.”

Mr. Lewis — arguably one of the most successful nonfiction writers working today, with book sales topping 10 million copies — is betting Audible will expand his audience and draw even more people to his work. Last month, he signed a multiyear contract with Audible for four audio original stories, with the first scheduled to come out in July. Mr. Lewis, who wouldn’t reveal further details about the story, plans to narrate it himself.

. . . .

Mr. Lewis is part of a growing group of A-list authors bypassing print and releasing audiobook originals, hoping to take advantage of the exploding audiobook market. It’s the latest sign that audiobooks are no longer an appendage of print, but a creative medium in their own right. But the rise of stand-alone audio has also made some traditional publishers nervous, as Audible strikes deals directly with writers, including best-selling authors like the historian Robert Caro and the novelist Jeffery Deaver.

. . . .

After years of stagnation in the industry, audiobooks have become a rare bright spot for publishers. While e-book sales have fallen and print has remained anemic, publishers’ revenue for downloaded audio has nearly tripled in the last five years, industry data from the Association of American Publishers shows. This has set off a new turf war over audio rights, pitting Audible, owned by Amazon, against traditional publishers, who are increasingly insisting on producing their own audiobooks, wary of ceding more territory and revenue to the online retailer. The battle over who will dominate the industry’s fastest growing format is reshaping the publishing landscape, much as e-books did a decade ago, driving up advances for audio rights and leading some authors to sign straight-to-audio deals.

. . . .

“Amazon’s position in the digital audio market is even more dominant and unshakable than its position was in the e-book market,” said Michael Cader, a book industry analyst and the founder of Publishers Marketplace. “They’re virtually unchallenged.”

Audible executives say they are investing in original works in part to meet growing consumer demand, and also to generate stories that are designed to be listened to rather than read.

. . . .

Audible has been aggressively courting authors to create exclusive works for them, dangling six-figure advances that rival what major publishing houses pay.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Audible can now read you a goodnight story at InterContinental Hotels

From Fast Company:

The next time you check in to an InterContinental Hotel, you’ll want to check out Audible’s new playlist. The hotel and resort chain has teamed up with the digital story company for a new collection, called Stories of the InterContinental Life, curated in part by the executive producer of The Paris Review podcast, Brendan Francis Newnam.

The new audio library pairs literary works with iconic travel destinations (think: Breakfast at Tiffany’s and New York) where InterContinental Hotels & Resorts properties are located. Newnam, who must be the luckiest man alive, will also host a Literary Concierge Series, a literary salon for hotel guests. Travelers who really want to get lost in a good book can sign up for the hotels’ Novel Nights package, which includes an Audible download card and late checkout in case you stay up all night listening to a good book.

Link to the rest at Fast Company

Audible is Paying Inexplicable Bonuses to Authors in Audible Romance

From The Digital Reader

After news broke last week Audible was paying an abysmally low royalty rate for its romance audiobook service, Audible Romance, the audiobook retailer promised to patch the problem with a bonus, but wouldn’t give specifics.

The bonus payments have started to arrive, and we still don’t know any more than we did before.

. . . .

So far the reports from authors include:

  • I received my bonus. It was $140. I only made $5 in the program.
  • I got $25 and I had no minutes for the period.
  • I made one cent from two books and got a $25 bonus.

. . . .

While it’s great that Audible is making up for last quarter’s disastrous royalty payment, they still haven’t said anything about how they will fix the fundamental problem of the Audible Romance subscription service.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG says Amazon has rarely made a misstep when it comes to compensating authors, but he suspects more than one indie author (and way more than one voice actor) is mentally placing Audible on probation.

Audible’s product quality is also likely to take a hit as authors choose lower budget narrators like Uncle Harry, who was a shock jock in Los Angeles thirty years ago, still has a bunch of old recording equipment in the garage and promises not to do drugs before recording sessions.

Successful indie authors are entrepreneurial and will spend their time and effort where there’s a real payback.

The New York Times to Launch Monthly Audiobook Best-Seller Lists

From The New York Times Press Room:

The New York Times announced today that it will publish monthly Audiobook Best-Seller Lists for the first time, featuring the top 15 fiction and top 15 nonfiction audiobook lists, based on sales from the previous month.

. . . .

“The vibrant growth of audiobooks in the industry has created a need for an impartial, reliable source for tracking and reporting the top-selling audiobooks across the country,” said Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review. “The Times recognizes the increased reader and listener interest in audiobooks, as well as in the Book Review’s increasing depth of coverage of audiobooks, and we’re thrilled we’ll be able to provide them independent data they can rely on.”

The Book Review will continue to publish in print the Combined Lists and Hardcover Lists each week. The third page will highlight other Best-Seller Lists on a weekly rotating basis, including the following categories: Paperback (Trade Fiction and Paperback Nonfiction), the four Children’s Books lists, and Audiobooks.

Link to the rest at The New York Times Press Room and thanks to Roberta for the tip.

The Men Behind the Words

From No Shelf Required:

In 1974, a book by Theodore Rosengarten was published and went  on to the win the National Book Award for Contemporary Affairs (a category that later became “Nonfiction”). The work itself was an oral history of a man identified as Nate Shaw (Ned Cobb), a sharecropper in Alabama who stood up against sheriffs who had come to take away a fellow sharecropper’s property.

. . . .

In both print and audio formats, the work has received wide critical praise, and the man underneath the writing and then the performance of the written—Nate Shaw/Ned Cobb—remains alive through these interventions of other men’s voices. In effect, the fact of Nate Shaw can become fixed because his unscripted speaking was heard, recorded in written text, and now heard again through the oral performance of an informed actor. Instead of these interventions diluting the immediate and personal accounting of Mr. Shaw, they serve to extend the reach, and the permanence, of his witnessing to history.

Link to the rest at No Shelf Required

Here’s a link to All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw

Amazon launches a WordPress plugin that turns blog posts into audio, including podcasts

From Tech Crunch:

Amazon today is launching a new Amazon Polly WordPress plugin that gives your blog a voice by creating audio versions of your posts. The resulting audio can be played from within the blog post itself, or accessed in podcast form using a feature called Amazon Pollycast, the company says.

The plugin itself was jointly designed by Amazon’s AWS team and managed WordPress platform provider WP Engine, and takes advantage of Amazon’s text-to-speech service, Polly.

First introduced at Amazon’s re:Invent developer event back in November 2016, Polly uses machine learning technologies under the hood to deliver more life-like speech. For example, Polly understands that the word “live” would be pronounced differently based on its usage. In the phrases “I live in Seattle” and “Live from New York,” the word is spelled the same but is not spoken in the same way. That means the voices sound more natural than some other, more basic voice-to-text engines.

. . . .

The technology’s capabilities have also evolved, with added support for things like whispering, speech marks, a timbre effect, and dynamic range compression. These sorts of voice technology advancements are also things that make Alexa sound more natural, too.

. . . .

In addition to simply reading posts aloud, Polly’s flexibility means you could configure different voices for different bylines, or use different voices for quoted text – if you’re technically-minded – these options aren’t available in the plugin itself. Polly could also offer translation capabilities so your blog could be read by those who speak other languages.

Link to the rest at Tech Crunch

Readers, Listen Up: Amazon Is Shaking up the Audiobook Market

From The Wall Street Journal:

When Olympic snowboarder Shaun White’s memoir lands later this year, readers will have to wait. That is because his book will be released as an audiobook a month before the hardcover and e-book editions.

The force behind this unorthodox rollout is Audible, Amazon.com Inc.’s audiobook subscription service. Audible paid for the lion’s share of the memoir to gain rights to the audio version, which will be published by its in-house studio. Audible said it would be the first time one of its audiobooks precedes a print book in coordination with another publisher.

With the help of its deep-pocketed owner, Audible is trying to extend its dominance in a fast-growing corner of the book business. It already accounts for about 41% of U.S. audiobook unit sales, according to researcher Codex Group LLC. Audible said Mr. White’s book is a blueprint for the sorts of deals it will pursue.

As a publisher of audiobooks rather than simply a retailer, Audible can develop exclusive audio content that differs from the print version, helping to lure subscribers and fend off rivals. In working directly with authors, Audible controls the content instead of traditional publishers, which normally own all rights to books and distribute audio versions through firms like Audible and Apple Inc.’s iTunes.

Audible is pitching literary agents on the benefits of using its services, saying authors will get a competitive bidding process that could mean more money in their pockets, and will get more attention and marketing for their audiobooks.

. . . .

In the first eight months of 2017, publishers’ revenue from audiobooks grew 20% from the same period a year earlier, while print books only rose 1.5% and e-books slipped 5.4%, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data reported by 1,200 publishers.

. . . .

Several major publishers, including Penguin Random House and HarperCollins Publishers, say they generally won’t buy a new book without audiobook rights, which may deter authors from signing deals with Audible.

“Authors are best served if they are published as a whole and marketed as a whole and in lockstep with our digital sales team and our print team,” said Ana Maria Allessi, publisher of HarperAudio, a unit of HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp .

With Audible, the publisher typically gets a set fee for each audiobook download, part of which is passed on to the author. When Audible owns the audiobook rights, print publishers no longer get a cut. Typically, this means more money is passed on to the author.

“As e-book sales decline and hardcover sales flatten, publishers need audiobook rights to boost their bottom line,” said Robert Gottlieb, chairman of Trident Media Group LLC, a New York literary agency. “What’s different is that Audible is trying to get agents to sell them the audiobook rights before they go out with the other publishing rights.”

. . . .

Audible Studios produced a special edition of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” read by Claire Danes, with new material that extends beyond the end of the novel.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

Audiobooks for Building the Most Essential Communication Skill

From No Shelf Required:

Audiobooks have long been used in English-speaking countries to support new language acquisition for immigrant students. Their use in English language teaching in places outside these countries is beginning to take hold, now that digitally available audiobooks allow for more accessibility in secondary and university learning situations.

This month The Journal of Language Teaching and Research has published a new and compelling study of the benefits of “Using Audiobooks for Developing Listening Comprehension among Saudi EFL Preparatory Year Students” (Manal Mohamed Khodary Mohamed, Suez Canal University).

. . . .

Listening is considered the most important language skill for achieving effective communication and good academic achievement among learners. It is a highly integrative skill because it is generally the first skill which learners develop (Oxford, 1993; Vandergrift, 1999). It has been emphasized as an essential component in the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) process (Vandergrift, 2003).

. . . .

The role and importance of listening in SLA exceeds acquiring meaning from sounds because it does not only mean recognizing the sounds but it also involves detecting, conveying and comprehending the information and it allows comprehending the world and creating social relationships among humans (White, 2006).

Link to the rest at No Shelf Required.

Opening the Mind’s Eye

From No Shelf Required:

Reading by ear allows for a variety of other activities likely to require sight—running, driving, frosting birthday cakes—or no physical access to sight at all—after all, American audiobook publishing was born of the needs of blind readers. However, as with most things in life, there is a middle way: the opportunity for the sighted, or those with memory of the capacity to engage the world with their eyes, to use no organ other than ears and imagination to conjure the visual elements of what is being read. Eyes can be closed so that even the more or less automatic use of physical vision to track print across a page or screen comes out of play.

To read with the ears in this state of unaccompanied eye input is to give an open field to the images and colors the words and phrasings themselves evoke in the mind. This allows the full measure of works rich in such visual recreations to take center stage within, an experience that can be, in seriousness as well as punnery, heady and exhilarating.

. . . .

To hear this collection, [In Sunlight or In Shadow] and to do so without using the listener’s eyes elsewhere, to simply keep them closed, presents such fully formed and richly detailed sights within the mind’s eye that they become unforgettable. Dreamscape (2017) made use of a full cast to record the stories and each reader’s pacing is such that the imagistic constructions created by the authors receive every bit of light or shadow they warrant, every stroke of Hopper’s muted but frequently sunwashed paints. Hopper’s paintings, of course, are rich with narrative and narrative potential. Adding the layer of writers’ word frames and sculpting takes them to new and even more potent possibilities. Then, to come full circle and remove the reader’s own organ of vision to replace it with the tones of voice throws the listening reader onto a reserve of insight some individuals may find startling as well as intoxicating.

Link to the rest at No Shelf Required

PG has never read any of Georgette Heyer’s books, but on long auto trips with Mrs. PG, he very much enjoys listening to Heyer’s detective novels, so his particular mind’s eye is openable on an interstate.

An Auspicious Day to Use Your Words – And Learn More

From No Shelf Required:

An essential aspect of early education, formal and informal and in every human culture, is coaching the very young to communicate articulately. Through explicit means, such as the preschool teacher’s
reminder to “Use your words [rather than slap the kid who just hurt your feelings]” to the implicit demand that responding when asked a question is required, we work at sharing, preserving, and refining language to serve our purposes as a social fabric.

With Samuel Johnson’s 308th birthday noted by Google and other less pervasive sources today, it’s a good time to consider how audiobooks and listening to language both maintain and expand each generation’s capacity to understand, speak, and choose the most appropriate words each individual can to keep that social fabric strong and dynamic.

. . . .

Listening to rich language, crafted by authors who make their characters both credible and relatable, and performed by narrators who understand both the rhythms of the writer and the needs of the audience, serves as a direct route to vocabulary building, flexibility in personal expression, and empathy development. Audiobooks ensure language as a lived experience, without regard to whatever verbal poverty or carelessness a child’s home might afford. For many, listening to audiobooks may be one of the few occasions when spoken language is both directed at them and demands no immediate action, simply inviting the warm bath of soaking in words, phrases, meaningful intonations that range across a wide spectrum of emotions and intentions, and opportunities to be held rapt.

Link to the rest at No Shelf Required

Audible launches Canadian dedicated service

From ITWorld Canada:

Audible is launching its first Canadian dedicated service, marking the first time the Amazon subsidiary is launching a bilingual website.

Audible.ca is live as of today, Sept. 13, offering 300,000 audiobooks and other audio content, including 100 new titles from Canadian authors in English and French. What differentiates it from its U.S. counterpart, audible.com, is that now Audible is specifically curated for English speaking and French speaking Canadians.

“A tremendous amount of writers and authors come out of Canada, and we want to recognize Canada as a unique destination with multiple cultures,” said Chris Cooper, head of international at Audible, over the phone with IT World Canada. “We want to really service Canadians with an authentic Canadian approach.”

In order to do that, Audible has specifically curated both the English and French versions of the site so that users won’t just see a translated version of the same page. This is the first time curation by language is being offered in a market, and the company has earmarked $12 million CAD over the next three years to invest in Canadian writers and voices.

“You can go back and forth with ease and just recognize the other cultures. We want to be part of the social fabric and be respectful; be a respectful visitor and resident and realize that there are cultural differences,” said Cooper.

. . . .

The launch of a dedicated Canadian service comes at just the right time, as last week Toronto-based Kobo launched its own audiobook service that will feature audiobooks from a range of publishers that Kobo already works with on the e-books front. Similarly, Kobo members can buy audiobooks individually or by subscribing to a monthly service for one download per month.

. . . .

Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn, in an email to IT World Canada said Audible isn’t really new competition since it’s been around since the 1990s. Besides, Kobo has already grappled with the competition posed by Amazon.

“Kindle was the only game in town for eBooks when we started, and yet we grew to be the dominant player in Canada by focusing on Canadian authors and publisher partnerships, and ultimately, Canadian readers,” he said. “We believe there is a huge playing field here for audiobooks.”

Link to the rest at ITWorld Canada and thanks to Tudor for the tip.

In case Canadian visitors to TPV didn’t catch it in the OP, Audible understands you’re not the part of the United States that is located somewhere north of Montana. Audible understands that some of you like to speak English and others prefer French.

Audible is also sensitive to the hockey and non-hockey elements of Canadian culture and knows Molson is not the Canadian Budweiser.

.

 

Expressions, Impressions

From No Shelf Required:

Just as authored, edited, and mass produced books comprise only one segment of the to-be-read universe, audiobooks are not alone in what we can read by ear. We’ve long tuned into broadcast events—live sports, journalists’ reports, opinions and performances—and we negotiate our daily public lives as much by attending to ambient aural messages as to signs and written directions.

With digital preservation and dissemination broadening its capacious notice of aural resources, there is a growing wealth of sound archives that carry “reader” content. The Quietus offers a fine point of entry into this world of expressive sounds. Earlier this month, the site launched an interactive archives of contemporary Protest Sound.

. . . .

In addition to political breaking news events, all manner of archived spoken discourse makes for heady listening: recorded poetry, oral histories, endangered indigenous languages, witness accounts, and comedy performances are among the possibilities. Pair, from the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress, Voices from the Dust Bowl with Karen Hesse’s novel in verse Out of the Dust, read by Marika Mashburn for Listening Library (2008).

Link to the rest at No Shelf Required

Getting started with the Libby app to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your library

From Overdrive:

Our new Libby app is the easiest way to get started with digital books and audiobooks from your public library. Libby is available for Android, iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch), and Windows 10.

. . . .

Step 1

Install the Libby app from your device’s app store.

Step 2

Open Libby and find your library. You can search by library name, city, or zip code.

Step 3

Browse your library’s collection and borrow a title. When prompted, sign in with a valid library card.

Step 4

Borrowed titles appear on your Shelf and download to the app automatically when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, so you can read them when you’re offline.

From your Shelf, you can:

  • Tap Open book or Open audiobook to start reading or listening to a title.
  • Tap the cover image, then Send to Device to send a book to Kindle.

Link to the rest at Overdrive

PG says this looks a lot simpler than working your way through most library websites.

How Do Podcast Nuts Find the Time? They Listen at Chipmunk Speed

From The Wall Street Journal:

Jarod Reyes wanted to reduce his anxiety. His doctor suggested meditation, so he subscribed to a podcast to guide him toward a Zen state.

“Close your eyes,” the podcaster’s voice would intone languidly over instrumental music. “Take a slow, deep breath.” But something about it made him anxious. The episodes were too long; it was hard to focus.

He knew what he had to do. Now the 35-year-old web developer sets the podcast to run faster, forcing its hypnotherapist to make it snappy with her soothing thoughts. “On the exhale, allow yourself to settle in,” she hurries along at double speed. “Maybe roll your shoulders back. Or wiggle your hips a bit.”

He found inner peace. “It’s much easier for me to sit focused for 10 minutes,” Mr. Reyes says, “than 20 minutes.”

How do people have so much time for so many podcasts? Some don’t. They speed-listen and knock out two, three, four podcasts in the time one usually takes.

Geoff Newman, 31, thought a colleague who told him about speed-listening was nuts. Then the London web developer and filmmaker tried 1.2 times normal speed, then 2x, then 2.5x. Now he’s comfortable at 3x.

It’s painful to consume his favorite tech and videogame podcasts at actual speed. “It sounds so strange,” he says. “Like they’re smoking lots of weed.”

. . . .

When ESPN anchor Rachel Nichols moved to Los Angeles last year, she discovered she could squeeze two full podcasts into her drive to and from work if she pushed their speed to as fast as 2.3x. Ms. Nichols proselytizes the joys of speed-listening on Twitter . “I like pushing the cause,” she says.

Ms. Nichols was a guest recently on “The Lowe Post,” a show hosted by ESPN colleague Zach Lowe, and she made a plea to the audience as soon as she was introduced: “I’m going to ask everyone to now go to their app and speed up the rest of this podcast.”

. . . .

A fourfold speedup sounds entirely sane to Max Deutsch, 24, who says he has speed-listened to 69 audiobooks this year. The faster the speed, he found, the more engaged he was. “That’s when I asked myself: I wonder how fast I could actually listen?”

The San Francisco tech-product manager, unable to find apps with speeds over 3x, created Rightspeed, a $2.99 app that accelerates podcasts in nearly unnoticeable 0.1x increments every two minutes. A one-hour podcast that begins at 2x, ends at 5x and takes 17 minutes.

“It’s sort of like the Roger Bannister, four-minute-mile effect,” Mr. Deutsch says. “Until you’re told it’s possible for a human to listen at this speed, you just decide you can’t.”

When Andy Mullan, a government employee in San Francisco, checks out a library book, he downloads the audio version. He listens at 3x and follows in print. Mr. Mullan, 32, says his reading consumption has increased and his comprehension has improved.

Hundreds of thousands of Audible listeners use higher speeds, according to the audiobook company’s data. Audible says speed-listeners prefer nonfiction but do binge on mysteries and thrillers.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

PG has listened to accelerated audio for years. He didn’t know it was a thing until he read the OP.

How this Texas woman changed the lives of the blind and impaired with creation of audiobook studio

From The Houston Chronicle:

Carolyn Randall is enthralled by words. She’s been so as long as her 90-year-old memory can recall.

Decades before she’d create the Texas State Library’s audiobook recording studio, a project that has helped thousands of blind and impaired people, Randall was a bookworm growing up in Champaign, Illinois. She read historical fiction and scripts by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

“I was a slow reader,” said Randall, now a Houston resident. “I paid attention to each word.”

. . . .

Shortly after, Randall heard that the University of Houston needed help to record audiobooks. She began volunteering weekly.

In the late 1960s, Robert Levy founded what was then Taping for the Blind, a Houston audiobook and radio program now called Sight into Sound. The news made its way to Randall, who, upon hearing it, remembered an uncle who had once said he needed audiobooks while recovering from cataract surgery. She had an idea.

“I thought, ‘I can do this in an even better way than at the University of Houston,'” Randall said. “That’s how I really got started.”

She stayed with the program for about 10 years before moving with Howard to Austin.

Living in the capitol meant an opportunity to volunteer at the state library.

Randall couldn’t pass it up. She began with small tasks, “filing whatever they needed,” she said. But she quickly cultivated relationships. She also noticed there was no state-sponsored studio to record audiobooks. The library’s Talking Book Program had for decades used an audiobooks archive provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. But no state resource existed for audiobooks and authors specific to Texas.

Randall lobbied for funding to outfit a room with recording booths. Volunteers were recruited, and the studio was born in 1978, with Randall as its director.

. . . .

Almost 40 years later, more than 5,000 titles (books, magazines, etc.) have been recorded at the studio, which in total has a collection of more than 10,000 titles in multiple languages. The studio has about 100 volunteers, and it services roughly 18,000 blind and impaired people statewide. It also offers some books in braille.

Link to the rest at The Houston Chronicle

Of course, PG was reminded of 17 U.S. Code § 121, which provides, in part:

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement of copyright for an authorized entity to reproduce or to distribute copies or phonorecords of a previously published, nondramatic literary work if such copies or phonorecords are reproduced or distributed in specialized formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities.

. . . .

“authorized entity” means a nonprofit organization or a governmental agency that has a primary mission to provide specialized services relating to training, education, or adaptive reading or information access needs of blind or other persons with disabilities;

With Audiobooks Hot, Publishers Should Look to Bundle Them With E-Books

From Publishers Weekly:

I grew up in a rural area with not much to offer an imaginative kid who’d much rather live in London—and, though my parents were very educated, the town I lived in couldn’t support a bookstore. Fortunately, our house was close to the public library, where I basically lived until I was 15, at which point they hired me as a page after school and on weekends.

Holding a new and different book in my room or at the base of the willow tree where I liked to read in summer was a nearly sacred feeling for me. Books were views into worlds I wanted to partake in—worlds where people spoke other languages, had other ways of living, and didn’t have to put up with boys stealing their calculators before chem class and dismantling them. Decades later, I moved from physical books to e-books, which I adopted enthusiastically to cut down on the sheer mass of books in my apartment and avoid lugging around the heavy sagas I love to lose myself in while traveling.

Recently, though, I’ve been part of the return-to-print trend demonstrated by the 3.3% rise of print unit sales in 2016, reported earlier this year by NPD BookScan. The feeling of holding the book, which mattered so much to me as a kid, was just too powerful to let go. I also need to curl up before bed with a long, immersive story—and screen glare tends to affect my sleep thereafter. The soft yellowish invitation of a page, as opposed to the harsh blue glare of a screen, seems more welcoming and soothing.

But I’ve just started a new consulting gig that has me commuting from Staten Island to Manhattan. And I’m not as young as I was—I don’t want to throw my back out carrying Bleak House around, and I’d alike to be able to adjust print size.

. . . .

 Since the inception of the Kindle, publishers have agonized over e-book pricing. When e-book prices from the major publishers reverted back to the agency model, Amazon retaliated by heavily discounting the paperback versions. Thanks to the first-sale doctrine, which applies to physical products, Amazon has the right to set any price it likes on titles it’s purchased from publishers. By positioning print books as a sort of loss leader—the very way they positioned e-books to gain adoption in 2007—Amazon made it more likely that consumers choose physical over digital books.

. . . .

 What the consumer seems to want, in terms of bundling, is an e-book–audio package.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Reading Books Is on the Decline But Audiobooks Are Rising

From Psychology Today:

A recent New York Times article reported that:

“Sales of adult books fell by 10.3 percent in the first three months of 2016, and children’s books dropped by 2.1 percent. E-book sales fell by 21.8 percent, and hardcover sales were down 8.5 percent. The strongest categories were digital audiobooks, which rose by 35.3 percent.”

The Times proffered several explanations including the lack of a “hit” book that draws readers to purchase that and other books and a decline in leisure reading (in one study the National Endowment of the Arts found that in 2015 only 43% of American adults had read a work of literature for pleasure in the previous year).

I think that the explanation is simpler. When you read a hardback, paperback or e-book it is very difficult to multitask and the research shows that we all – and I mean all – love to try to do more than one thing at a time. When you listen to a book your hands are free to type or tap and your mind is free to wander. No page turning required!

. . . .

Students, adults, office workers and other studied groups appear to be able to maintain attention and focus for 3-5 minutes at a time before being distracted.

Link to the rest at Psychology Today and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Amazon and Apple end exclusive deal on audio books

From The BBC:

Apple and Amazon have ended a deal that tied them into an exclusive contract for the supply and sale of audio books.

The deal was signed before 2008 when Amazon bought audio book supplier Audible, which had the Apple iBooks contract.

Pressure from anti-trust regulators in Germany and the European Commission led to the deal being abandoned.

. . . .

The terms of the agreement meant Audible could not offer audio books to any other company and Apple had to take audio books only from Audible.

The investigation into the Apple-Amazon arrangement over audio books was started by the German Federal Cartel Office in late 2015. It responded to complaints from German publishers who said the two tech giants were abusing their market dominance.

In Germany, said the publishers, more than 90% of all downloads of audio books were done via the Apple iTunes store or through the Amazon and Audible websites.

With the deal abandoned, Audible will now be able to supply firms other than Apple with audio books. In addition, Apple can now get audio books from other sources and sign up other publishers who can push their titles through its iTunes and iBooks outlets.

Link to the rest at BBC and thanks to Jan for the tip.

The First Truly Blockbuster Audiobook?

From The Literary Hub:

If you’re excited for the February release of George Saunders’s very first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, let me just pile onto that excitement a little bit for you. Recently, TIME reported the insane cast of the audiobook version of the novel, which features some 166 characters. Accordingly, the audiobook will feature a large number of very notable persons: actors (Nick Offerman! Bradley Whitford! Julianne Moore! Jeffrey Tambor!), musicians (Carrie Brownstein! Jeff Tweedy!), and even writers (David Sedaris! Miranda July! Mary Karr! Saunders himself!). If the talent at hand here is any indication, it’s going to be incredible, and this is a particularly good thing, because this novel deserves it—and not only that, but it could have been easy to get wrong as an audiobook.

That is, it’s the unique format of the novel itself that makes this kind of out-of-the-box audiobook necessary. The story, which centers on the death of Willie Lincoln and his experience in the afterlife, watching his father’s visits to his grave, is told in a cacophony of voices, some presented as excerpts from actual texts (many of these texts are invented), and others as voices of the ghosts hanging around the graveyard, in general denial about their dead-ness (these, I feel safe saying, are all invented).

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub