Friday, July 20, 2012

No time to read? Try audio books!

copyright, 2012 Aaron Paul Lazar

I have become totally nuts about audiobooks recently. Oh, sure, I knew about audiobooks. I’d even rented a few from the Cracker Barrel years ago when I was working on the second shift and made the hour drive home around midnight every night. I remember loving hearing Tony Hillerman read his books to me as I glided through the night on the dark ribbon of highway.

Since then, I really hadn’t given them a thought.

That is, until I started a partnership with ACX (owned by Audible, which is in turn owned by Amazon) to get my own novels made into audio books. We have five available now with several more in production. It's been a real blast and has opened up many new opportunities for me as an author. But that’s another topic for another article. This re-introduction to the audio book media, if I may call it that, as been phenomenal.

I began listening to recorded chapters made by the various narrators I'd teamed up with to produce my mysteries. I listened in the car, using my iPhone through the Bluetooth connection. No wires, just press a button and the sound comes out of the car speakers. Oh, how I love that! Alternatively, I just plug in ear buds to my phone and listen using a free Audible app. Oh, it’s so easy, and so addicting.

I read a great deal. Since eBooks have become so accessible through Kindle and iPhones and all other devices, I am constantly reading, whether it be on the plane, in line at the grocery store, in the doctor’s waiting room, or at night in bed. I’m going through at least twice as many books than when we had only print books on hand, and am just loving it.

However, there is a lot of down time in my life in which I wish I could be writing or reading. Since I can’t write while commuting back and forth to work or while doing my hour walk each morning (other than imagining scenes in my head), I’ve become addicted to listening to audio books during both activities.

I started out with Michael Prescott’s audio book, Blind Pursuit and was hooked from the first moments of listening. The narrator—a superb actress named Allison McLemore—is a genius at assigning distinct and powerful voices to each of the characters. Okay, so this writer is one of my favorite thriller writers in the world. He is polished, highly skilled, and knows how to craft an edge-of-the-seat suspense story without letting you breathe between the scenes. I am crazy about his books, and usually read them on Kindle.

I could rave on and on about Prescott's talent. Since I listened to Blind Pursuit, I also listened to Mortal Pursuit (a hot fast ride you’ll never forget narrated by another talented narrator named Gayle Hendrix), and have just downloaded Deadly Pursuit. Now I can’t imagine my days without someone reading to me enroute to work or on the lonely dirt road where I walk every morning. It’s pure bliss.

The cost is actually more reasonable than you might think. Oh, sure, the books are more than your typical $2.99 eBook. If you’ve become accustomed to getting lots of free eBooks and paying a buck per book, the cost of $18.00 per average book might astound you. But if you join at the basic level of $14.95 per month, you are entitled to one free audio book per month. I got Deadly Pursuit (eleven and a half hours of listening!) which was priced at $24.95 for the monthly fee of $14.95. It’s worth every penny, and frankly, I would have paid the full price without hesitating.

How do you download an audiobook?

It’s easy. Unlike the bulky multiple disk sets that I used to rent at the Cracker Barrel, this process is painless, you can do it while sitting at your desk or walking in the wilderness (as long as you have a 3G signal!), and there is nothing to carry around with you or stick into CD players.

Simply find the book(s) you want, buy them through Amazon, Audible, or iTunes, and they are automatically deposited in your Audible Library. You can download from the buy page, or wait until you’re ready to read. I use my iPhone. I downloaded the Audible app, for free of course, and then I go right into my library to search for my book. Click "download", and in a very short time you will have one or two files containing all of the hours of intense production that went into the recording of the book aright at your fingertips. Just click on the file, and listen! You also are allowed to burn one set of CDs if you like, but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to do this when you can just access the file from anywhere, anytime. Why waste the money and time on disks?

Well, I’m off to start listening to Mr. Prescott’s newest book. I’m learning as a writer about how the very best man in his field accomplishes his taut suspense and relentless tension. So not only am I being totally entertained, using my time wisely, but I’m learning as I go. How can you go wrong with that scenario?

If you want to listen to some great audio books and don’t know where to start, may I suggest to take a listen to the excerpts of my own mystery audio books at I highly recommend Terror Comes Knocking, narrated by Mr. Robert King Ross. It’s new, and it’s beautifully rendered by this accomplished actor. Let me know what you think if you listen!

Aaron Paul Lazar

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