A little switch-up for today’s Music Monday as it doesn’t involve music but it does involve audio! Let’s talk about audiobooks! (Also timed this so I could have that ideal alliteration: #AudiobookAugust 😛 )
I’d initially gotten the idea for this feature after watching a webinar about how to be an audiobook narrator, with some interesting tidbits I thought would be fun to share in this space. BUT THEN, the universe seemed to know my plans as suddenly all the bookish email lists and book accounts I follow had an audiobook feature or post, so now I have so much material.
So welcome to the first week of #AudiobookAugust! This feature will be a bit different than my usual posts as it’s much more researched than normal but there’s a lot of new info that I’m thinking about and excited about that I want to share.
Up first, an introduction to audiobooks and some quick facts, and some questions for all of you, audiobook listeners or not!
I want to start with a quote to set the tone here as we talk about audiobooks:
“It’s not cheating. You’re still reading.” – Jeff Guillot
(BookNet Canada Podcast, July 27, 2020)
Audiobooks count as reading! Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s get into who’s doing that reading and where.
Stats: The quote above comes from a podcast run by BookNet Canada, a non-profit organization that, among other activities, puts out a biannual survey on audiobook use in Canada! What are the chances! So get ready for the nerdier side of this post as we explore some stats from their 2020 survey.
- Overall: 37% of Canadians read audiobooks ; 58% of these listeners are categorized as “light” readers (they listened to under 5 audiobooks in the previous year)
- Formats: 11% of listeners prefer audiobooks to other formats
- Genres: The most popular genre in fiction audiobooks is mystery/thriller (47% of listeners), and history in non-fiction (34%)
- Podcasts: 88% of audiobook listeners also listen to podcasts (another format I’m very slowly getting into)
There’s lots of other interesting stats in their full report so check it out for more about typical Canadian audiobook listeners and see where you fit in!
Book recs: I asked people on Instagram what their favourite audiobook so far this year has been and here’s what I heard (can I just keep making subtle audio puns?):
- Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan – four interconnected stories revolving around a magical harmonica
- The Histories by Herodotus – a classic Greek collection detailed historical events and legends as told by historian, Herodotus
- The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – a highly-praised author I have yet to read with this dystopian fantasy trilogy and a desperate search for family
- A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones – the latest in a mystery series with a female sheriff and lots of romance
Where to listen: The first audiobook I listened to was on CD, which is how I’d pictured all audiobooks. But of course, the rise of technology means there are so many digital sources for audiobooks these days (67% of listeners use their smartphones according to BookNet Canada!).
Your library is still a great option for audiobooks, or some subscription services if you’re feeling up to the commitment (Libro.fm and Audible as some examples, we’ll come back to these in a future post), and of course you can still purchase them from publishers. I also learned just this year that there are even a number of free audiobooks available on Spotify and YouTube!
A lot of the sources I’ve been reading seem to agree in saying that Canada is still far behind the States in seeing the same popularity of audiobooks but one of the recent projects that helped Canada’s side of the industry was a project spearheaded by a Toronto publishing company. ECW Press received a grant in 2016 that allowed them to pursue the “100 Ontario Audiobooks project“, where they worked with indie Ontario publishers to help them produce audiobooks for titles in their catalogues.
Hopefully this popularity and support will only continue to rise and we’ll see lots of Canadian publishers get into the audiobook business!
As for me, I’m still a (very) light audiobook listener (meaning I’ve listened to 3 audiobooks in my life: one, two, and three). I had signed up for that first webinar because I was curious about how producers, indie or the big leagues, are involved in production but now I’m feeling more inspired to listen to audiobooks more regularly! It is really nice to be able to listen while doing other things (though of course right now I don’t have much else going on).
The next couple weeks will touch on production and accessibility, but let me know if there’s anything else in the world of audiobooks you’re curious about!
And some questions for all of you:
Do you listen to audibooks? What’s your favourite format for books?
Do you prefer single narrators or a full cast?
What’s the best audiobook you’ve listened to?
Cover images from Goodreads
BookNet Canada. (2020). Press Play: Audiobook Use in Canada 2020. https://www.booknetcanada.ca/press-play-audiobook-use-in-canada-2020
Hirchberg, S. (Host) (2020, July 27). The whys and hows of audiobooks, a conversation with Deyan Audio [Audio podcast episode]. In BookNet Canada Podcast. BookNet Canada. https://www.booknetcanada.ca/blog/2020/7/27/podcast-the-whys-and-hows-of-audiobooks-a-conversation-with-deyan-audio
Kleynhans, L. (2019, October 29). In house: ECW’s Bespeak Audio imprint. https://alllitup.ca/Blog/2019/In-House-ECW-s-Bespeak-Audio-imprint