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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.