Speaking of Audiobooks: 2012 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll

iStock_000001294672SmallAsk just about any romance listener to choose their favorite romance audiobooks and it’s highly likely they will choose a book from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, J.D. Robb’s In Death, or Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars series.  And never has that been more obvious than with our Speaking of Audiobooks 2011 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll where all three were big winners.

So this year, it’s a new take on favorites with only a few of last year’s categories.  After all, how often can you choose All Time Favorites?  We’re taking a beyond the winners approach and admitting our runaway winners last year were just that – first place winners.  Two narrators are included in that solid first place category as well – Anna Fields and Phil Gigante.

With the first three categories in our 2012 poll, we’re looking beyond those highly popular choices to discover what other favorite romance books, series, and narrators we hold in high regard.  You’ll also see twelve new categories as we talk not only about favorites but aspects of performance and the nature of audiobooks in our every day lives.

In addition, our results will include more than the first, second, and third place winners if there are enough votes to support a mention.  You will also see that most categories allow for you to vote for two or three favorites rather than just one.  We want our listeners to have a long list of solid romance recommendations when we publish the results in July.

Although we are asking for your favorite romance audiobooks, series, authors, and narrators, when it comes down to it, we’re talking about narrators.  I’m reminded of the title of the first Speaking of Audiobooks column I wrote more than three years ago – It’s All About the Narrator.  An author can write a fantastic tale but when it comes to audio, it’s the narrator’s duty to deliver.  I like to think of our Favorites Poll as a tribute to those narrators who work tirelessly to deliver romance just the way we want to hear it.

Here’s a look at our 2012 Poll and a bit of description you won’t find on the ballot.

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AAR Annual Reader Poll: Voting Closes on January 29th

We plan for AAR’s Annual Poll for months and since January 16th we’ve been frantically entering your ballots. Now, as hard as it is to believe, the AAR Annual Poll for books first published in 2011 is nearly over. Yes, this year’s poll closes at midnight Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, January 29th.

Have you voted yet? If you have, thank you! It’s truly a joy to look at all of your votes and tally the results In the past we would receive a flurry of votes the first few days and then things would die out until the last days of the poll. Not this year. So far, we’ve received a large number of ballots each day since voting opened. This keeps us busy, but very happy.

If you haven’t voted, don’t despair. There’s still plenty of time to vote. And more importantly, your vote can make the difference in many categories. Right now most of the categories – including Best Romance of 2011, Best Romance Hero, and Best Romance Couple – are wide open with just days remaining in the poll.

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Avon Wants a Piece of Your Mind…

Have you ever wanted to give a publisher a piece of your mind? Well, Avon is asking for one. They have a fairly extensive survey for romance readers on facebook. They want to know how you read, how much you read, whether you listen to audiobooks, where you get your book recommendations, which websites you like (you know, like ours)…

There is a place to comment at the end with any other feedback you’d like to give. Since they really want to know what you think, you might as well tell them! You can find the survey here.

- Blythe Barnhill

And…the Annual Reader Poll Begins!

voting_m-300x225 It’s the beginning of a new year and many of us readers are looking forward to the next must-have title by our favorite authors and those wonderful cherry-on-top moments of discovering a new auto-buy author during 2012. We know this time is special and fun, and we ourselves are basking in the newness of it all. And yet, we need your help in looking back at the books you loved and those that left you wanting so much more from last year, 2011. Today is the start of our 16th AAR Annual Reader Poll .

The Annual Reader Poll has a long tradition at AAR, and is one of the highlights of the year for many readers. It is a time when AAR readers pick the best and worst reads of the previous year. This is your poll and your moment to help us determine what you think readers should have noticed and passed on in 2011. There are many AAR readers who keep charts and know exactly what titles and characters they will be entering on their ballot. If you haven’t kept a reading chart (and there are just as many readers who don’t), you can always use the Power Search function at AAR to search for reviews from the 2011 reading year. In Power Search you can search by genre, reviewer, year published, grade, and a host of other areas that should be helpful in preparing your ballot.

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Heads Up: The Annual AAR Readers Poll is Coming

I know that many of you are in a pre-holiday frenzy right now, and the last thing you need is more pressure. Then again, it’s better to have lots of warning. If you’re a longtime visitor to AAR, you know what’s coming in January. But if you’re new to AAR, let us give you a heads-up now. Yes, even though 2011 isn’t over, we at AAR are getting ready for the AAR Annual Reader Poll for 2011 romances!

Voting in the 16th AAR Annual Reader Poll will begin on Monday, January 16, 2012 and will end two weeks later at midnight on Sunday, January 29th. The Annual Reader Poll has a long tradition at AAR, and is one of the highlights of the year here.

The categories we used last year worked quite well. By changing the previous category of Erotica to Romantica/Erotica and the category of Worst Romance to Most Disappointing Romance, we were able to announce winners quite easily in all of the categories. So we’re sticking with a good thing and will be going with the same categories this year (see the bottom of this post for a listing of all of the categories  that will be on the ballot this year).

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“Nothing is Sacred – Even Libraries”

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During university, I volunteered at the local library, shelf-reading and tidying books.  When I told a friend, she asked why I didn’t just volunteer at a food bank; then I’d do more good.  At the time, I wasn’t aware of the saying “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for life.”  But that’s more or less what I told her.

I believed, and I still believe, that free education is one of the fundamental rights to which each person is entitled.  And education doesn’t end in the classroom – it stretches into the home and community, and libraries are at the heart of this education.

So, yeah, I believe libraries are sacred.  That’s why it scares me that they’re first in line for the Toronto budget cuts.

At last count in 2010, the Toronto Public Library was the busiest one on the continent, with over 30 million items circulated for a city of 2.5 million people.  (By contrast, the New York Public library serves over 3 million people in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, and circulated 24 million items last year.)  Torontonians don’t just borrow materials.  We buy used books, do research for homework, get together with friends, surf the Internet, and find jobs.  We take part in the homework clubs, ESL programs, book and conversation and film clubs, author readings, cultural seminars, library balls – the list goes on and on.  There’s a damn good reason we call our library system one of the best in the world – it’s because it is.

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Speaking of Audiobooks: Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll Results

OutlanderOur first annual Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll results are in and it’s time to share!  While many of the standard favorites shine through as expected, I was delighted with all the other books, narrators, and series that received a good amount of notice as well.  The Poll is divided into five categories:

  • Absolute Favorites
  • Sub-Genre Favorites
  • Narrator Favorites
  • Other Favorites to Ponder
  • Let’s Let the Audiobook Industry Know…

And with that…drum roll please!

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Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll

Polling stationThe time has finally come for our first annual Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll and it’s one I’ve been waiting for with great anticipation.  When I first envisioned this poll two years ago in the first days of our Speaking of Audiobooks column, I merely thought of it as a comprehensive list of our favorite romance audiobooks, narrators, and audio authors for our own reference as listeners.  Now I believe it has a second purpose as well.  As a group we can proclaim to the audiobook industry the types of romance audiobooks we prefer and what we want to see in the future.

The poll is much more than simply voting for your favorite audiobook (a difficult task for most) and, staying true to AAR’s style of polling, we have multiple favorite categories.  And since we know narrators “make or break an audiobook,” seven of the 25 categories are dedicated purely to various aspects of narration.

Starting June 14th and ending Tuesday, June 28th at midnight, you have two weeks to submit your ballots at AAR’s main site.  Just follow this link. If you don’t have a choice for a particular category, please don’t let that discourage you.   Just keep in mind that you must enter at least six titles/authors for your ballot to be valid. Once you submit your ballot, you will be redirected to a thank you page. We’ll publish the results in our July column.  I don’t know of a comparable audiobook poll so let’s join in, have fun, and make a statement!  We look forward to seeing the results as much as you do!

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The Bad, the Worst, and the Most Disappointing

babyAround this time of year, I start mentally preparing for AAR’s annual poll. I take stock of what I’ve read, what I should squeeze in before the deadline (I am always, always, reading up until the very last minute), and who my personal front runners are. I also start thinking about which books were truly awful. What shudder-inducing, god-awful travesty deserves my vote for worst?

Usually, I have an obvious answer. In fact, I usually know while I’m reading it. It’s that moment of discovery when you realize that nothing you read for the rest of the year could possibly be worse than what you are holding in your hands. These are the books that are so terrible that they cross the realm into funny. Not “so bad they’re good” per se; more like so bad they’re laughable. You may pay while reading it, but the review is bound to be hilarious.

Lately, though, I just haven’t read that many F books. My most recent review was written in March of 2009. I’ve read a few Ds, but most books I read fall in the B and C range. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe books are getting better in general. Or perhaps I’ve been reviewing for so long that just as it’s hard to truly knock my socks off, it’s hard to really horrify me too. When you’ve read The Great Baby Caper by Eugenia Riley (and I’m pretty sure I’m one of maybe six people in America who did), you know just how low the bar can go. Mediocre books start looking brilliant by comparison.

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Announcing….the 2010 Top 100 Romances Poll Results!

drumrollThe weekend may be over, but today is a special Monday. After many hours of reviewing ballots, tabulating results, and coding, drumroll please…

The Top 100 Poll results are up! Since our pollsters receive hundreds of ballots and have to rank many, many books, this is a huge undertaking and I’ve been excited to see what the top books will be. We last did the poll in 2007, and not only are there new romance readers out there, but there have been a lot of new books since then! So, did Lord of Scoundrels stay in the top spot or did you readers vote something else into #1? And which post-2007 release not only made the list, but made it into the top 10? Go check it out!

Many thanks to our polling team – LinnieGayl Kimmel, Lee Brewer, and Cindy Smith – for their hours of work reviewing ballots, tabulating results and putting together the results page. You’ve done a wonderful job!

- Lynn Spencer