What Are Your Thoughts on Audiobooks?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m late coming to the bandwagon where audiobooks are concerned, but it seems to be a very popular, growing format these days. And it seems like everyone who is anyone is involved in podcasting in some form or another.

I’ve only recently started listening to podcasts, for years having preferred to consume information via my eyes rather than my ears. However, I’m slowly starting to realise the benefits of audio products. For one thing, it enables you to multitask, turning otherwise dull and mundane tasks into informative and entertaining sessions where your hands are routinely busy, but (gasp!) your brain is stimulated too. I’m fortunate to have very good eyesight, but I would imagine for someone with failing visual capability, audio entertainment is heaven-sent.

Entertainment on the go | © Philips Communications

In fact, the only downside to audiobooks I can think of is that, if I’m not careful, my mind starts to wander (either because an interesting idea was sparked or because I’m busy trying to write a complex piece of code at work) and I find myself ten minutes later without any idea of where I am in the narrative or how I got there. I suppose concentrated listening is a skill that needs to be learned.

In either case, I’ve lately played with the idea of converting some of my stories into audiobooks. My husband is wonderfully well-spoken (with a sexy Welsh accent to boot!) and would make the perfect narrator. I can only imagine hearing my stories in this medium would be incredibly satisfying for me personally, and would also allow a larger audience to get to know my work.

So, I have a few questions for you, consumers of audiobooks:

  1. Do you prefer a straightforward reading of a text, or do you like the narrator to give different voices and accents to individual characters?
  2. What are your thoughts on ambient sounds, such as birds tweeting or background music?
  3. Would it be disconcerting if the viewpoint character is female, but the narrator is male?
  4. Is there anything specific that puts you off an audiobook immediately that we should avoid at all costs?

I would really appreciate your thoughts and advice. I’m actually quite excited about the idea and would love to try it out, while at the same time making the product as professional and listener-friendly as possible.

Which format do you prefer – books or audio? Why? Do you have any examples of great audiobooks that we can use as reference?

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