Audiobook Week Day 2: How Do You Choose Your Audiobooks?

18 06 2013

Tuesday: How do You Choose Your Audiobooks?
How do you decide what you’ll listen to? Do you mostly listen, or split time between listening and reading? Particularly if you split time, how do you decide what you’ll consume in audio and what in print?

I think the hardest thing to explain is how I choose what I listen to. It seems so much of bloggerhood is separated by genre. My Twitter feed is full of YA bloggers, Speculative Fiction Bloggers, Literary Bloggers, Crime Fiction and Thriller Bloggers all of whom contribute in someway to my listening list. So, I am always getting a strange mix of recommendations and links to reviews. I have always combined research and impulse when shopping. I will come up with a list of items I want, yet, I always find my eyes being caught by some bit of pretty that I just have to have to have. Too often, the list I came in with is only a pale reflection of what I end up leaving the store with.

I find my shopping for audiobooks is quite similar. I will often plan out my listens based on New Releases I had requested from publishers, recent acquisitions from the library, and recent purchases from Audible or other sites. Yet, then something unexpected will come in the mail, people will tweet about a book that catches my fancy, or a random bit of internet surfing will lead me to something intriguing. Maybe I will see a pretty cover, or one of my favorite narrators will comments on a recently released project and suddenly, my plans go all askew and crazy, and I find myself with a totally different plan. To paraphrase, No Battle Survives First Contact with an Unexpected Audiobook Release.

I also find it’s important to embrace my moods. It’s easy to listen to an audiobook because you feel you have to. You accepted a audiobook pitch, or requested a review copy from the Audio Publisher or Audiobook Jukebox, and you think, I better get this listened to and reviewed before someone thinks I’m a slacker and never wants to work with me. Or you just want to get an audiobook reviewed as close to release date as possible. First off, listening to an intricately developed Literary masterpiece when you are in the mood for a shoot em’ up Military Science Fiction novel benefits no one. If there was a reason a book intrigued you, eventually there will come a moment when it fits you mood. Embrace your moods, listen to something when you want to. Being the first to review something won’t get you bonus points, and getting a review out a week, or even a few months after release date may rekindle some interest.

Being that I listen to between 40 and 50 hours of audio a week, if a book is available in Audio format with a narrator I find acceptable, I choose to go that route. The majority of my print reading is short stories, novellas, anthologies, and a few novels that aren’t available in audio. I am typically happy if I finish 1 novel a month in print, with a few shorter works along the way. With audio, I average about 15 to 20 a month, so keeping that beast fed is my main concern.

I have a wide range of genres I listen to. I listen to horror, science fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, thrillers, legal thrillers, Literary fiction, urban Fantasy, Steampunk, books about Robots in dance battles with Unicorns, Zombie Apocalypse, Zombie Outbreaks, Zombie POV’s, Post Apocalyptic, Pre Apocalyptic, Far Future Apocalypse, Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Utopian, Some books with a cool picture of a monkey on it, Time Travel, Military Science Fiction, Military Fiction, Young Adult, New Adult, Middle Grade, Really Really Old Adult, Classics, Cheese, Pulp, general fiction, Cereal Boxes and Shampoo Bottles. Basically, whatever jumps out at me at the time. So, finding what I am interested in has no real process but I will share some of the ways I discover new audiobooks.

Some Tools for Finding Audiobooks:

I think that major book retailers are a horrible way to search out new audiobooks. Their lists are horribly incomplete, and calling their search engines clunky would be a gross understatement. So, these are the tools I use to find audiobooks that tickle my fancy.

PUBLISHER SITES ARE YOU FRIENDS

Not all publisher sites make searching for audiobooks easy, but many of them do. Even the ones you have to work at a bit are worth the effort. Some will offer lists of upcoming Releases, while others give you multiple search options. My suggestion… Advanced Search is your friend. Search by Date or genre if available. While most will list narrator, not all do. This can be frustrating, but if you discover a book coming out you are interested in, and there is no narrator information, jump on Twitter and harass official handles and publicist. That’s what they are there for:

Some of my favorite publisher websites:

Brilliance

Dreamscape

Penguin

Simon Audio

These are the sites I check at least once a month. I know there are other smaller audio producers that I have neglected, and they are more than invited to link up their websites in the comment setting. Maybe even I will begin added them to my rotation.

Many of these sites also have newsletters, I encourage people to sign up for those. I may miss a title or too on the site and discover it in their newsletter. Some offer newsletters tailored to reviewers, these I will talk about more on Friday when I discuss review copies, and offer a resource list.

 

BLOGGER RESOURCES:

A lot of bloggers offer weekly posts like Mailbox Monday, or lists of new releases. These are excellent tools. Also, scan archives of bloggers you follow for titles you may have missed. Here are two blogger resources that I value highly when trying to figure out my plans for the upcoming month:

mybookishways

Kristen is one of the most prolific and simply plain awesome bloggers out there, and besides awesome reviews, interviews and giveaways, she offers excellent monthly lists of upcoming genre releases. Go, check out her blog. Follow her. Reap the rewards. I know I have.

Fair warning, Kristen covers print releases, so you may find a title that you are interested in, but isn’t available in audio, but I have found her lists to be invaluable resources.

Audiobookaneers

Sam, one of the Audiobookaneers, provides a weekly list of Newly Released Speculative Fiction titles available in audio. One of my favorite features is his Seen But Not Hear section where he details new releases that are available in print, but not yet in audio. He will often also highlight audiobook available internationally, but are yet available in the US. I find many of my books through his weekly lists, and both Sam and Dave provide many quality recommendations.

OTHER RESOURCES:

Audiofile has lists of New Releases, usually set in three or four month blocks, searchable by either Genre or Production company. I use this resource often, but there are some things to beware of. Often, the titles mentioned are not new releases, but recently repacked or remastered items, or items that were available only digitally, but are now being made available in Hard Copy. Also, when available, narrators are listed.

Fantastic Fiction is a good resource for discovering new audiobooks, with a few caveats. Like Audiofile, the newly listed audios may just be a format upgrade, and being a UK site, sometimes release dates and availability are not 100% accurate.

I love Overdrive Classic Search. It can be clunky and annoying at times, but it’s customizable search engine has helped me find lost of titles I may have missed. I like that you can search by author, publisher or narrator. Understand, only titles available through Overdrive will come up, and it may not be available at your library. but still, it’s a great resource. Do not attempt Overdrives default search. It sucks. Classic is much better.

Yes, everybody loves Audible. Despite it’s use of DRM and it’s affiliation with SKYNET, (AMAZON) it is the premiere resource for Audiobooks. It’s search function is totally dreary, but I does allow search by narrator, search by publisher, even search by length, so it may help you find what you want. Just beware, there is no way yet to separate Coming Soons from Currently Available and their new inclusion of Amazon Reviews is annoying.

One of the few viable alternatives to Audible. It could truly set itself apart by offering a better search function, but currently it’s about as clunky, if not more so, than Audible’s.

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14 responses

18 06 2013
Laurie C

Thanks for a great list! How have I missed My Bookish Ways all this time?? I recently discovered the AudioBookaneers and added them to my blogroll already.

18 06 2013
Michelle Erin (@michelleerin)

I’m glad you do all of this research so I don’t have to. 🙂 Now, back to my shampoo bottle…

18 06 2013
Mindy

Great list of resources and I appreciate your comments on each one. Makes things so much easier for the rest of us.

18 06 2013
russell1200

My best method for finding the very off the beaten track novels is automatic google’s gmail alerts (its under the even more tab of google). Of course you have to set up a google account (which I then roll over to my blackberry so I don’t forget to check). But ~apocalyptic novels (that which I am looking for) are pushed through all sorts odd publishing streams, and then there are the overseas people who can often be had easily via download, but don’t ever think that Americans are interested in their work.

18 06 2013
Dave Thompson

Thanks for the shout-outs both today and yesterday, man!

I’m really looking forward to Downpour being a bigger force in the audiobook world. It’d be awesome if they were able to get programs like ACX or an equivalent of Audible Frontiers.

18 06 2013
Lucy

Thanks for all the great resources! One thing that annoys me is when I can’t find out who the narrator is until just before publication date. At least now on audible you can preorder so you can get some of that info a little early. But that’s a good idea to ask the publicist on twitter!

18 06 2013
Bella

Thanks for the great list of audiobook publishers. I’ve checked out AudioGO’s website a few times but not the others. I do follow them on twitter though.

I’ve been wanting to try downpour but so far I’ve stuck to Audible as it seems to have all the books I want.

18 06 2013
montsamu

Echoing Dave, thanks for the shout-outs, and for me I am always eager to see what you are listening to, why, and how you liked it.

This year has been a bit different for me, in that I was tired of looking back on my “year in listening” and finding that I was listening to only maybe 10-15 or so titles authored by women out of 80 or so titles for the year. I mean, I noted it when looking back at 2011, and even had it on my mind a bit in 2012 but it ended up abount the same. So this year, I have made two particular changes so I don’t end up just doing the same thing: listening to what is put in front of me, the same stuff I would usually get to. Because I want some *different* things and different voices this year. So this year I’ve made actual changes to how I pick audiobooks, using color-coded lists on my whiteboard to make sure I don’t just fall into that 65/15 split again. And it’s really worked to get things closer to even, and led me to some really wonderful listens this year. (Fade to Black, Life after Life, The Golem and the Jinni, The Shining Girls, …)

18 06 2013
Carol

Great post. I’m pretty scattered when it comes to audiobooks, aside from sticking in a general genre or two. Thanks for all the links!

18 06 2013
Kristin T.

Great list of resources…thanks for sharing. I get all my audios from the library, but it nice knowing what’s available on audio. I’m going to check out some of the publisher sites.

~Kristin @ Always With a Book

18 06 2013
Trish

Holy cow! *bows down to Bob* As a relative newbie and one who can maybe listen to 10 hours of audio a week, I’m pretty impressed by these resources. I’m a whimsy reader/listener and also a whimsy shopper. I tend to find audios that I NEED TO HAVE RIGHT NOW but then not listen to them for years. Just like the poor books languishing on my bookshelf. Audible is my go-to because it’s just too easy to download a book and keep listening but I’ve seen Tanya mention Downpour on twitter and keep meaning to check it out. I have recently received a few review titles but I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know how to transfer the files to my phone. iTunes? Anyway.

18 06 2013
Darlene's Book Nook (@DarleneBookNook)

Great post, Bob! My preference always is audio. I simply lack the sit-down time to read conventionally except aloud to my children. I listen to audiobooks whenever I am on the go…driving, cooking, laundry, cutting the grass, shovelling snow, etc. At the end of the night, I try to read a conventional book but end up falling asleep before making much headway.

I also just wanted to mention a great source for FREE audioboks is the SYNC summer listening program where you get 1 YA book and 1 Classic book for FREE each week for the entire summer! Here’s the website: http://www.audiobooksync.com/

18 06 2013
Nise' (Under the Boardwalk)

Thanks for the list of resources! Many are new to me. I agree, subscribing to the newsletters of publisher sites is a great tool.

19 06 2013
Brenda

Wonderful resource links and such a relate-able post no matter the genre. This – “If there was a reason a book intrigued you, eventually there will come a moment when it fits you mood. Embrace your moods, listen to something when you want to. Being the first to review something won’t get you bonus points, and getting a review out a week, or even a few months after release date may rekindle some interest.” – exactly!

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