About Emma

Emma can (and does) listen to audiobooks all day. She likes Muay Thai and yoga, and her friends are tired of hearing about Davina Porter.

4 Narration Considerations when Choosing an Audiobook

Audiobook lovers know the importance of a good narrator. Narrators have the potential to expertly enhance a book, or, unfortunately, to sometimes drag it down. It can be tricky for audio publishers to find a voice that suits both the book and everyone’s preferences. (A sweet, bubbly voice doesn’t belong in scenes of gore, just as ragged, ominous voices have no place in light-hearted fairy tales.)

As listeners, we need to know ourselves and our narration tastes in order to opt for books that suit us, so we’ve come up with a quick guide to test a narrator. While listening to samples as you’re browsing for your next audiobook, here are some things to consider.

Pace:
Does the narrator match your preferred pace? Are they reading too quickly during scenes that need better build up? Do they take too long during descriptive paragraphs? If the pace doesn’t quite fit, try changing the playback speed to see if it improves the experience.

TECH TIP! To change playback speed, tap the 1x icon on the player screen in the Audiobooks.com app. 

Pitch and Intonation:
Very important in regards to narration is the delivery. Is the reader too monotone? Do they exaggerate dialogue to the point where it’s cheesy? Is the pitch of the voice suitable? Even if the pace suits you, inappropriate intonation could make a potentially great audiobook personally unbearable.

Accents:
This one is a little more difficult. You may have a preference for certain accents during general narration, but when it comes to dialogue, accents are an important part of the character. Depending on where you’re from, you may be more tolerant of narrators putting on certain accents. Those accustomed to a North American accent may cringe if a British narrator fails to imitate a Southern character. Similarly, people in the UK may be distracted from the story when an American narrator portrays someone from Ireland.

Background noise:
While this last one isn’t in the narrator’s power, it’s worth considering that some audiobooks have sound effects and music in the background as a way to enhance the audio. To some, this is a welcome addition that turns the experience up a level, but others find it distracting and unnecessary. Determine the side you relate to and listen for it in the sample.

TECH TIP! To sample an audiobook before committing a credit to it, simply press play on a title in the Audiobooks.com app. After the set sample time is up, you’ll be prompted to apply a credit and keep listening, or choose to keep browsing. 

What do you think? Do you look for similar factors when sampling audio? What are your listening preferences? Let us know!

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Oprah’s Latest Book Club Pick

Since 1996, Oprah’s gifted us with timeless and thought-provoking recommendations. Most recently we were delighted with Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers. Today Oprah is making waves once again with her latest selection: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones!

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together. This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward-with hope and pain-into the future.

An American Marriage

 

Listen to a sample and find the full story here!

 

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STAFF PICK: Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright

Title: Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them
Author: Jennifer Wright
Narrator: Gabra Zackman

Disease isn’t funny. But this book made me laugh. If you listen to Get Well Soon, you’ll understand. Jennifer Wright takes us on a journey through some of history’s worst plagues, descriptively noting their symptoms, causes and cures, but more importantly noting the reaction of society and of medical professionals.

She talks about pustules and lobotomies, of death and corpses. She talks about cultures that created an atmosphere conducive to healing as well as those that made the situation far worse. She draws parallels to modern society and hints at ways we’re susceptible if another plague was afoot. That doesn’t sound amusing at all, but the ridiculousness of “cures” and “expert opinions” truly are. Wright’s matter-of-fact tone, laced with dark humor, makes it all the better. Some of the images conjured by her explanations really made me laugh aloud on my drive. Here’s one such excerpt :

‘The dancing plague of 1347 was supposedly halted by a priest holding open the mouth of each suffering person and shouting into their mouths, “praise the true God, praise the Holy Ghost, get thee hence, thou damned and foredoomed spirit.” (When your boss suggests you try new ideas and think outside the box, you could consider yelling into your coworkers mouths.)’

My entertainment was amplified by Gabra Zackman’s narration, which was both straightforward and sassy, breathing extra hilarity into the remedies of yore. Her voice is steady and very enjoyable, even when I sped her up to 1.25x.

We learn history so we don’t repeat its mistakes. This audiobook lends a hand toward that goal, describing how societal reactions to disease have not grown much since the 1600’s, despite medicine’s leaps and bounds. It will benefit any listener by spreading awareness of what helps and what harms. Even if you have a firm grasp of plague best-practices, this book will lend perspective from history. I promise it’s worth it if just for the laughs… but maybe don’t listen during lunch.

Get Well Soon Audiobook Cover

 

Listen to a sample (and then the full title) here: Get Well Soon

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Behind the scenes with Tiffany Haddish recording The Last Black Unicorn

This month, stand-up comedian and breakout star of Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish, released The Last Black Unicorn. Her hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of (extremely) personal essays is as fearless as the author herself.

If you don’t already love Haddish, her audiobook will make you fall fast. Listen to Tiffany discuss growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, and how she learned to survive by making people laugh. See for yourself in this hilarious excerpt where she meets Mary J. Blige and falls asleep at Queen Latifah’s house.

 

 

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Narrator Scott Brick interviews author Nelson DeMille

Listen to author Nelson DeMille and his long time narrator, Scott Brick (pictured) in an interview about their latest audiobook, The Cuban Affair!

Just last month was the release of Nelson DeMille‘s latest suspense novel, The Cuban Affair. The story follows US Army combat veteran Mac, now a charter boat captain, who is about to set sail on his most dangerous cruise. In this interview, DeMille speaks with Scott Brick about inspiration, research, character development and more. To listen to an excerpt or to download the full story, click here!

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Maximizing your audiobook experience

“WOW I’m so glad I know about these great features!” – You, after reading this article.

Sometimes our customers ask for tips on the best ways to enjoy Audiobooks.com. Sometimes we even get requests for features we already have. So here’s a feature overview that covers what our player is capable of, including some “hidden” gems you may have missed!

The Basics: 

You probably know all about this, but as I’m here I might as well be thorough.

Nav bar:
This displays your progress in the audiobook – how much time has elapsed and how much time remains. You can scrub through the audio using the orange bar, but know that your last point is what is remembered – not you furthest point in the book.

Track navigation:
Here you can skip between audio tracks. While tracks don’t correlate to chapters in the book, they’re still a handy way to navigate around. Hit the black oval to view all tracks and skip to a different section of the book.

Play/pause, skip forward or reverse:
This is your typical play/pause button with navigation arrows to go forward or backwards in the audio. In this image, you move 30 seconds forwards or backwards, but the number of seconds can be adjusted in the settings.


Fine Tuning:


The bottom of our player has four icons, each of which is a very helpful listening tool!

1x (or 1.25x or 1.5x or 1.75x or 2x):
This is where you can adjust playback speed. If you’re the type of listener that uses audiobooks to maximize your day, the narrator may not be relaying information fast enough for you. Tap this icon to change the narration speed and get through your book in record time.

Sleep Timer:
Hit the moon to open our sleep timer. Before settling in for the night, select an amount of time you’d like the audiobook to continue playing. After that time has elapsed, your audiobook will pause and you can nod off without worrying that your book is going to play all night while you snore too loudly to notice.

Ratings ⭐:
Do you love the book? Selecting this star icon will bring you straight to the review page where you can share all your thoughts with the rest of the Audiobooks.com community.

Bookmarks and Notes:
If there’s a section of the book you’d like to recall or make note of, hit the orange flag icon. You can leave your thoughts about the time you’re on, which gets saved to My Notes. You can navigate to the My Notes section from the main menu.


“Hidden” Gems:


Here are some lesser-known features of our app:

Skip Time:
In the Settings menu, there is a section of “Playback Settings.” Here, you can adjust how much you’d like to skip forward and backwards in your audiobook when you hit the arrows on the player screen.

Playback Gestures:
There is also the option to toggle “Playback Gestures” on or off. These playback gestures refer to using the cover of the audiobook as the control. You can tap the cover or swipe it left and right to pause/play and navigate through the book. These are SUPER useful in the car, so you don’t really have to look at the screen!

And that’s that! A rundown of all the Audiobooks.com player features that can bring your audiobook experience from good to magnificent. Happy listening!

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