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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Have You “Read” An Audio Book?

June is audiobook month and it’s a good time to examine how a segment of book publishing is doing.  In fact, my firm conducted a radio tour to promote the Audio Publishers Association earlier this month, so I have a good feeling for the audiobook industry. 

There are many plusses to audiobooks.  Certainly, they are great for the blind or if you are traveling, whether it’s a work commute or a long vacation. Sometimes it’s nice to just close our eyes and not stare at a screen or printed page and just experience a book in another format. It’s also a great way to learn while driving, rather than just listening to mindless Top 40 songs.

Audiobooks can offer some interpretation to the book, because the reader uses voice inflection, injects passion and energy, and paces the listener. Hearing another voice, other than our own, also makes us feel less alone when digesting the book.

Audiobooks are not movie adaptations.  We almost always hear:  The book is better than the movie.  Audiobooks are word-for-word readings of the book.  Sometimes they are slightly condensed versions of the book, but they aren’t rewritten or altered otherwise.

Some prefer “how-to” type audiobooks.  Want to learn a foreign language or improve on some aspect of our life?  Listen to an instructional audiobook.  Others like travel guides in audio book form.  Some may want to consume fiction via audiobooks.  It’s nice to know that we have so many choices to take in our books today – printed, e-book, audiobooks, etc.

My son recently listened to an audiobook, Marley & Me, about a man’s relationship with his dog.  He’s only six and I was surprised he patiently listened to several hours of a story, intended for grown-ups.  He told me he imagined what the dog must have been like based on the vivid descriptions voiced to him.  Audiobooks are a great tool to help kids read when they are young and they are like sponges, taking everything in with such enthusiasm, openness, and acceptance.

Here are a few factoids from the APA:
·         Audiobook listeners are affluent, well-educated book lovers who utilize the audio format to fit more books into their lives.
·         In the past year, 90% of listeners read at least one book.
·         People who listened to four or more audiobooks read about 15 books in the past year, compared to six books read by people who don’t listen to audiobooks.
·         Authors love audiobooks too. Brad Meltzer, Stephen King, Judy Blume, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Tom Wolfe, Lisa Scottoline -- all listen to audiobooks.
·         The average audiobook listener spends about five hours a week listening.
·         Audiobooks are a great tool for building literacy.  Teachers and librarians report that listening to audiobooks helps children build better vocabularies and also helps them to read with better expression.

The Audio Publishers Association (APA) is a not-for-profit trade organization whose primary goals are to promote awareness of the audiobook industry, gather and disseminate industry statistics, encourage high production standards and represent the interests of audiobook publishers. Since 1986, the APA has worked to bring audio publishers together to increase interest in audiobooks. Please visit www.audiopub.org for more information.

***Brian Feinblum can be reached at brianfeinblum@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @thePRexpert.

2012 Could Be 2004

I wrote this in December 2003 as a guest writer for someone’s newsletter….it is probably still true for 2012:

No one has a crystal ball as to what will make the news in 2004, but there is a bit of predictability in how the media chooses to cover what it covers. The following might clue you in on what will likely get ink from the media, so plan on tying your message into one of them -- or write another book that exploits what's in the news:

1. Presidential campaign in 2004 means primaries in Jan, Feb and March -- some are in April and later. Then come the conventions (late July Dems in Boston; August Republicans in NYC) and then the big election in November. Look for lots of stories about politics in general and the state of America. Watch to see what become the hot issues of the campaign and tie your message into them if possible.

2. Economy -- all eyes are on whether unemployment will dissipate and give way to a new era of "the good times." If you have anything to say about new businesses, jobs, careers or the economy, you'll get coverage.

3. War on Terror -- this will be with us for some time to come. If you know about peace, violence, war, Muslims, etc, you’ll be quoted.

4. Olympics -- this summer we'll see lots of coverage. Start carrying the torch...

5. Calendar -- the usual holidays like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, etc. will always get coverage.

6. Seasonal -- like holidays, certain things will be in the media: back to school talk in late August/early Sept, graduations and career outlook in May/June; Super Bowl ads in late January, the big snowstorm, the drought, the natural disaster -- all will be back in 2004, perhaps in some cases with greater intensity. This year's hurricane season is predicted to be a doozy.

On the other hand, there are many things that are unpredictable and just cannot be known ahead of time. That's where you come in. Let the media know that your book is new, unique, different, exciting and fills a niche. If you can make it standout, the media will gladly give you coverage.

*** Brian Feinblum can be reached at brianfeinblum@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @thePRexpert.

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