If so, you’re in excellent company. Latest figures indicate that audiobooks are the fastest growing format in publishing. In 2015 the number of downloads rose by nearly thirty per cent, well over 40,000 titles were released and leading retailer Audible estimated in 2016 that its customers around the world were on track that year to listen to two billion hours worth of programming.
As a writer with audio books out there I see – and hear – the format’s huge popularity as aural bon mots, which is why I was more than happy to take part in a recent campaign to promote them. What you might call, spreading the spoken words.
A while back now I met my publishers to celebrate the digital recording of one of my books. BLOOD MONEY is the sixth title in the Bev Morriss crime series. Thanks to Creative Content’s Ali Muirden and Lorelei King – there are now seven Bev stories available to download.
On the same day we went along to Audible’s studios where we talked – among other things – about writing BLOOD MONEY how my writing style is influenced by my years working in TV news. The interview was recorded and is now available on-line.
So . . . audiobooks
I like to think of them as a sort of grown-ups’ version of children’s bedtime stories – with a cheeky bonus or two. For instance, they can be listened to any time and almost anywhere: in the gym, in the car, on the commute; while dusting the lounge, digging the garden, queuing in line. I’d maybe draw the line at listening while swimming the Channel.
Narrators can whisk you back a century or six or fast forward you to the next millennium; they’ll take you on a tour of Morse’s Oxford colleges, Rebus’s Edinburgh bars, Philip Marlowe’s mean streets or Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street. The multi-talented Clare Corbett who narrates my crime novels will happily show you round Bev Morriss’ Birmingham haunts.
Though crime fiction’s the most popular genre in the audio market, it’s not the only one, of course. There’s literary fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, romance, chick-lit, biography, the classics and . . . you get the picture.
I’m sure you do. It’s another reason why audiobooks are so captivating. They free us to close our eyes – literally or figuratively – release our imagination and see the pictures in our head. It’s like playing a mental movie with a sensational soundtrack provided by a narrator with the vocal range equivalent of a full orchestra.
To continue the analogy, the first time I heard one of my books narrated was music to my ears. Even though I’d written every word, every line, the power of the narration had me on the edge of my seat, raised hairs on the back of my neck; I laughed out loud at some of the dialogue and one bitter-sweet sequence brought tears to my eyes. If an audio book can move me, the author, like that, I’d love to know their effects on others.
So to sum up, I guess that means I’m with the late broadcaster Alistair Cooke, whose Letter from America was required listening on the BBC for nearly sixty years.
I think, like me, he’d probably feel the same about audio books.
The Bev Morriss titles available on audio are: