Monthly Archives: July 2011

AudioGo Merges With Audio Bookshelf

Adam Boretz -- July 28th, 2011

AudioGO yesterday announced plans to merge with independent audio publisher Audio Bookshelf. Per the deal, all Audio Bookshelf children’s and young adult titles will be recorded, packaged, and distributed by AudioGO — formerly BBCAudiobooks America – under the company’s AudioGO Children’s imprint.

“Audio Bookshelf’s high-quality products are a perfect fit for our already-robust children’s and young adult publishing program,” AudioGo Chief Operating Officer Mike Desrosiers said in a statement. “Their outstanding tradition of acquiring classic and best-selling titles will continue and expand as part of the AudioGO family. We’re very pleased to announce AudioGO Children’s as the new home of Audio Bookshelf.”

David Dittmann, publisher at Audio Bookshelf, will join AudioGO to help manage the transition. Under the new imprint, the company plans to offer more titles and new releases. “We’re determined to build this into the best children’s audiobook company in the country,” Dittmann said in a statement.


Get Caught Listening Winners Announced

Adam Boretz -- July 27th, 2011

The Audio Publishers Association recently announced the winners of their Get Caught Listening Video Contest.  You may recall that the contest entered Phase II last month, with the APA narrowing the field to 10 Finalists and then opening voting up to the general audio public. Well, the people have spoken and the the winners are as follows:

  • FIRST PRIZE: Get Caught Listening – To Audiobooks!  Submitted by Joel Moss Levinson

  • SECOND PRIZE: Forbidden Passions. Submitted by Jared Wheeler

  • THIRD PRIZE: Get Caught Listening – The Twins. Submitted by Samantha Villegas

The three winners take home $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000, respectively.  And, we here at Listen Up caught up with the first prize winner, Joel Moss Levinson to chat about audiobooks, his winning video, and the somewhat unusual way he makes a living.

1. How did you come up with the concept for your video?

Well, honestly, when you own a gladiator costume, you’re really always looking for excuses to put it on, so that was the starting place. Also, I just finished a book about Spartacus so that was fresh in my mind, and I thought: Perfect, that’s the exact book this guy should get caught listening to. Same thing with the baby footage, I thought, this contest requires views, and people certainly love looking at babies on YouTube, maybe I’ll throw in some footage of him looking cute for good measure! Continue reading


Audiobook Q&A: Bronson Pinchot

Adam Boretz -- July 26th, 2011

Four our third Audiobook Q&A, we’re delighted to sit down with actor, narrator, and Audie Award-Winner Bronson Pinchot to chat about all things audio, typecasting, Mark Twain, the need for calzones, apple fritters and South Park, and the differences between narrating a book and acting for film or television.

1. I think most people know you from your work on television and in films. How did you make the transition to audio narration?

I did a play, Distracted, with narrator Ray Porter. We became friends in an eerily short amount of time and he told me I’d like [audio narration]. So he hooked me up with Grover Gardner at Blackstone, and Grover and Andrew Barnes took me under their respective wings and invested in me, which was kind and generous of them, because I was clunky and needy at the beginning. Now I’m just needy.

2. How do the two compare — acting for television or film and narrating an audiobook? Do you find one more challenging?

At times, I feel they are very close, and, at other times, worlds apart. Depends on the material. I find audiobook narration very challenging. Because of the ubiquity of Perfect Strangers — on which I played a character defined by his exuberance and demonstrativeness– I am (unfairly, I think) often thought of as generically over the top. Read any review of anything in which I have done well, and you will always find the qualifying phrase “You won’t believe Balki pulled it off, but…” I like to do as little as possible to accomplish the author’s intention. And this is not always easy or clear cut with audiobooks. As all narrators know, if you go 1% over what the average listener requires, you really hear the backlash.

3. Is audio narration more work than acting in film or on television? And do you prefer one to the other? Continue reading


Now Playing: The Neil Simon Collection

Adam Boretz -- July 25th, 2011

Today, I’m listening to — and definitely recommending – The Neil Simon Collection from L.A. Theatre Works. The audiobook, which received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly, contains full-cast productions of ten of Simon’s best plays — Barefoot in the Park, Plaza Suite, California Suite, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Broadway Bound, The Odd CoupleThe Prisoner of Second Avenue, Chapter Two, Biloxi Blues, and Lost in Yonkers — and features the likes of Laura Linney, Richard Dreyfuss, Nathan Lane, Eric Stoltz, and many other talented actors.

I’ve always been a huge fan of audiobooks from L.A. Theatre Works. And they definitely have some amazing productions out there that are not to be missed. For more of their recent offerings — all reviewed by PW – CLICK HERE, HEREHERE, and HERE.


Audiobook Spotlight: Sarah’s Key

Adam Boretz -- July 21st, 2011

This Friday, the film adaptation — starring Kristen Scott Thomas! — of Tatiana de Rosnay’s best-selling novel Sarah’s Key hits theaters. And we — here at Listen Up HQ — thought it would be a good time to remind readers about the great audio version of Sarah’s Key from Macmillan Audio.

The audiobook is read by Polly Stone and received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly, which praised Stone’s performance and her ability to give a captivating novel even more impact via powerful narration. For an audio excerpt, CLICK HERE.

And be sure to visit the film’s Official Site for all the details. And while you’re here, check out the trailer:


Now Playing: The Sign of Four

Adam Boretz -- July 19th, 2011

With today’s post, we here at Listen Up will be — on a regular basis — sharing what we’re listening to, making recommendations, and hopefully starting a conversation with readers about their favorite audiobooks.

Today, I’m listening to a little Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four from Tantor Audio. The audiobook is narrated by Simon Prebble — who does his usual terrific job — and includes a bonus case from the Holmes Canon: “The Red-Headed League.” For an audio sample, CLICK HERE.

What are YOU listening to?


Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

Adam Boretz -- July 18th, 2011

In honor of Nelson Mandela’s Birthday, we thought — well, one of our coconspirators thought — it would be fitting to take a look at some of great audiobooks dedicated to his life and work. Of course, there’s the Audie Award-Winning Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales — ready by an amazingly talented cast — from Hachette Audio, which also just released the unabridged audio version of Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom.

Other notable titles include Conversations With Myself from Macmillan Audio, Young Mandela from Blackstone Audio, and Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage from Random House Audio. Check them out today!


Audiobook Q&A: Simon Vance

Adam Boretz -- July 15th, 2011

For our second Audiobook Q&A, Listen Up is proud to sit down with Simon Vance. Over his long and illustrious career, Vance has narrated hundreds (thousands?) of audiobooks, won major awards, and even negotiated a peace accord with a supernatural web cam. We sit down with Vance to chat about social media, the perils of bad writing, his latest project, and what he does to prepare before recording an audiobook.

1. Before you were an audiobook narrator, you read the news for the BBC. How did that experience help prepare you for audiobook narration? And how did you make the transition from newsreader to narrator?

I was always a pretty good sight-reader, so being a BBC newsreader probably helped me hone that craft. Although we usually had a few moments before the bulletins to read through the scripts, there were often quite lengthy stories thrown at us while we were on the air. Also, as a radio presenter, you commonly have to deal with people speaking into your ear while you’re talking on the air, and I’m sure that helped me to be able to think on different levels — a definite requirement for a self-directed narrator. My shift pattern at the BBC was quite strange, and I found I was often free some days during the week. A friend introduced me to the Royal National Institute for the Blind Talking Book Service and I volunteered time. After an audition, I was accepted and for about eight years spent an afternoon a week narrating … I look on that as my unpaid apprenticeship.

2. You’ve been narrating audiobook for over two decades. You’ve won numerous awards. What’s your proudest profession achievement as an audiobook narrator? And why?

Yes, it’s nearly 30 years now … scary. Proudest achievement? That’s very hard to say. I think my first Audie award was quite thrilling (2006 – Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan, Sci-Fi Category). But I’m proud every time one of my narrations is well received. In fact, now I come to think of it, I was somewhat overwhelmed when an author I respect (Orson Scott Card) wrote a blog complementing my narration of David Copperfield — he was quite effusive; crediting me with helping him see the quality of Dickens’s writing. Helping someone who “knows” writing see the value of another great writer… that’s quite an achievement!

3. After narrating everyone from Charles Dickens to Steig Larsson, what’s next? Do you have a dream project? A book or author’s work that you’d love to record?

Charles Dickens and the classic authors are always out there, but you never know when the next Stieg Larsson might arise. I was very lucky in that instance, but the next new discovery may fall to someone else to narrate — I’ll keep my fingers crossed. As far as the classics go, I’ve done so many of them already. I’ve found, these days, that I often get more joy out of the newly discovered writers than the old classics, even though I often find the classics an “easier” read.

4. I read somewhere that you don’t pre-read the books you narrate. Is that true? How can that be true? Why don’t you pre-read? And what do you do to prepare before going into the recording booth?

I’m pleased to put the record straight here: I think this misunderstanding came about because of a phone interview a couple of years ago. I was either misquoted, misunderstood, or — perhaps more likely as I trust the writer concerned — I thought I’d said something in a certain way, when in fact I said the opposite … Anyway. Here’s what I do: Continue reading


The Polls Are Closed; The Results Are In

Adam Boretz -- July 14th, 2011

The First Listen Up Audiobook Poll is closed and — not to toot our collective audio horn — the results were terrific. Hundreds of readers voted. There were some blowouts. Some tight races. Some contentious battles. And in the end, your preferences were made clear. Thanks so much to everyone who participated. And now, let’s recap the results.

What’s Your Favorite Audio Format?

This one wasn’t even close. A whopping 75 percent of you voted for Single Narrator, with just 13 percent selecting Multiple Narrator, 9 percent picking Full Cast, and 3 percent opting for Radio Drama.

Do You Prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

Another blowout! About 73 percent of you picked Fiction, while just 27.17 percent voted for Non-Fiction.

What’s Your Favorite Fiction Genre?

This is when the races start to get more competitive, with Mystery and Literary Fiction battling it out for the top spot. After a strong start, Mystery ended up losing to Literary Fiction — with the former coming in at 23.23 percent and the latter at 24.24 percent. After that, voters liked Fantasy (13.13 percent) and Thriller (10.1 percent) best. And, listeners least favorite genre was Chick Lit, which had just 1.01 percent of votes cast. Continue reading


The Great Audio Debate: Part I

Adam Boretz -- July 11th, 2011

With today’s post, we launch the first in an ongoing series of polls and surveys designed to help everyone here at Publishers Weekly and Listen Up better understand what you love about audiobooks and what you’d like to see on our blog.

We’re going to start things off light — with just a few questions about your audio tastes and preferences. It’s our hope that these polls and surveys will generate some lively conversations about audiobooks and the audio industry here at Listen Up. Thanks, in advance, for your participation. We’re excited to hear from you!