Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why Audiobooks? by Mike Wells

Dear friends of MB4,

Please help me welcome Mike Wells to our site today! Mr. Wells is an American bestselling author of the Lust, Money & Murder series and over 20 other 'unputdownable' thriller and suspense books. He lives in Europe and has taught in the Creative Writing Diploma Program at the University of Oxford. Neat, huh?

Today Mr. Wells writes about audio books, a favorite topic of mine. Since I discovered 3-4 years ago that with a click of a button I could download books to my iPhone, and play them through Bluetooth in my car without CDs, wires, or earphones, I've been in love with this media. On any day of the week, you'll find me with ear buds plugged in while I'm hiking, doing dishes, weeding, or mowing the lawn. It's such a great way to get even more books into your head. ;o) I've also arranged for all my books to be produced as audio books, and have been loving the process of choosing narrators/actors and helping the books to come alive, as it were, through narration. What fun! You can see my complete audio book listings here. If you would like to listen to them and do a review, I also dole out free coupons from time to time. Contact me if you're interested!

Okay, without further ado, here is Mr. Wells to talk about audio books.

Aaron Lazar

Why Audiobooks?  

copyright 2014, Mike Wells

As you may know, I recently decided to offer all my novels in audio format (listed at the bottom of the page).  Some of my readers have been a bit puzzled about why I'm doing this and a few have commented that it seems I'm trying to push audiobooks on them, or that I think listening to audiobooks is somehow a better experience than reading the same book the usual way.
     This could not be further from the truth. 
     First, deciding whether to read a book or listen to the same book in audio format is a bit like deciding whether you want your ice cream in a cup or a cone.  A lot of it has to do with the way the material is presented and tastes, and also the environment you'll be in when you consume it.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.   With an audiobook, the main upside is that your eyes and hands are free to do something else while you're experience the story--such as driving, for example, or doing your laundry.
     The following are the most common reasons people listen to audiobooks, or at least the reasons they start listening to them.
- Commuting back and forth to work via car, bus, train, ferry, etc.
- Exercising/working out/hiking/walking
- Performing repetitive tasks such as housework/cooking/gardening, etc.
- Traveling on long trips by car, bus, train, or plane
- Experiencing a story in a group setting (with family or friends while on a road trip, for example).  

     As I said, these are the main reasons that people start listening to audiobooks.  What many folks discover after they try one or two of them is that the experience is quite different than reading, and that it has one unexpected advantage:  the ice cream "cone" itself tastes good, too!  A great narrator can add to the drama as the story unfolds and the overall impression that various characters make.
     When I was in the sixth grade, I was lucky enough to have a teacher read a novel aloud to us for 30 minutes every day when we came back from lunch.  One was the bestselling thriller Failsafe.  To simply say he "read" the book to us is doing the man a great disservice.  He had a lot of acting experience, and he didn't just read the book, he performed it for us, almost like a stage play. The story made such a powerful, lasting impression on me that I've never forgotten it. I can still vividly remember various scenes and bits of dialogue, and that was almost 50 years ago!  A good narrator can definitely enhance a story, increase the dramatic impact with his/her voice.
     Of course, there are downsides to audiobooks, such as the fact that you may not like the way the narrator interprets the characters or the story. But I've found that if the narrator is skilled, most readers will enjoy audiobooks and the hands-free, eyes-free, group listening advantages they provide.  I spend a great deal of time auditioning narrators and choosing just the right one for each book, the one that I think is the perfect fit and brings the most to the story.
     So, in summary, please don't think I'm pushing audiobooks on you, or that I believe they are superior in any way to good, old-fashioned reading.  I simply want to provide all my books in audio format so that those who want them can have them.  It also pleases me to see my work interpreted and "acted out" by talented people--an audiobook is an interpretation of a book, similar to a movie or stage play.  As an author, I would be thrilled to see every one of my books adapted in all these different forms.
     And who knows?  If you've never listened to an audiobook before, maybe you'll try one and discover a new form of entertainment with benefits that will surprise you.

Now in Audio!
(Note:  you can download any of the below FREE by becoming an Audible member on a no-risk 30 day trial basis)

Lust, Money & Murder - International Thriller (Unabridged)

Buy:  Audible  Amazon USA  Amazon UK  iTunes

The Drive-By Wife - Psychological Thriller (Unabridged)

  Buy: Audible Amazon USA  Amazon UK  iTunes

Baby Talk - Horror (Unabridged)

  Buy: Audible Amazon USA  Amazon UK  iTunes

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Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Mike, it's so great to have you here today. And I have to agree, I highly recommend audio books as a form of entertainment and also to all authors - if you do it right, it doesn't cost more than your time. ;o) Good luck with all your books and happy writing!

Mike Wells said...

Many thanks for having me on your blog, Aaron!