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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3 thoughts on “4 Narration Considerations when Choosing an Audiobook

  1. As an audio book creator I would certainly agree with all these points. I recently sourced and recorded my own narrator and fortunately found someone with a fantastic storyteller’s range of ‘voices’ and accents. Sometimes you just have to try out a few until someone sounds right. You have to be mindful of your audience too. Thanks for these great tips.

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