Speaking of Audiobooks: The Best In Romance Audio Publishing

vectorstock_10162If you’ve been an audiobook enthusiast for long, you know that the industry exploded with the availability of digital downloads.  As a result, the number of romance releases increased sharply and the selection only gets better with each passing month.  As one of those enthusiasts and a fan of romance, I pay close attention to those audio publishers who historically have offered a significant selection of romance audio and continue to do so.  You know, those publishers who take the time to choose quality narrators for their titles as well as discover those authors that make romance listeners sit up and take notice.  Here’s to giving a shout-out to those publishers who are doing a particularly fine job of it.

Before we start, I’ll add a disclaimer – I’m using numbers from Audible.  I’m aware that there are audiobooks from years ago in audio cassette or CD format that have yet to hit the digital download market.  But since we’re discussing the move in the romance audio industry over the past few years, I feel the Audible numbers are adequate for this discussion.

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Speaking of Audiobooks: August 2012 Releases

Beautiful DisasterIf you’ve been a regular reader of Speaking of Audiobooks this past year, you’re probably aware that our upcoming releases list is compiled from a variety of sources.  Building this month’s list proved to be more challenging than usual.  Although there are dozens of genuine first-time releases, it’s also a month full or rereleases in hiding, so beware.  Amazon seems to be taking great pains to hide previous audio releases.  For years, I’ve started with Amazon when building our upcoming releases list before gathering release dates from various production company/publishers sites.  Over the past months, I’ve noticed that Amazon is increasingly introducing old titles as new (a long-time practice in publishing – I know) while also including larger numbers of non-romance audios in the romance category.  Don’t trust Amazon’s upcoming romance audio release list for that HEA romance listeners expect.

FictionDB and I are spending more and more time together these days ascertaining a book’s category and the whole process feels a bit like looking under every rock to find a simple piece of information.  So, here’s to those truly new romance audio releases…I think.  Please let me know if one slipped by me!  Now if we could only convince Audible to share a complete list of its upcoming titles.

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Speaking of Audiobooks: 2012 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll Results

Halfway to the GraveOurs is a different sort of poll this year.  After all, our listeners selected their all time favorite romance audiobooks in 2011.  Once the results were published, I heard from more than a few of those listeners – all asking a similar question.  What other audiobooks, audio authors, and narrators received votes besides the few that dominated the poll and took first in eight of the nine Absolute Favorites categories as well as the majority of Favorite Narrator categories?

Reflecting on those requests, our 2012 Poll is taking a beyond the winners approach declaring last year’s runaway winners, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series, J.D. Robb’s In Death Series, Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars Series, and narrators Anna Fields and Phil Gigante are still just that – first place winners.  In our first three Categories – Favorite Audiobook, Favorite Narrator, and Favorite Audio Author, we asked our listeners to provide us with some of their other favorites.

And, as promised, our poll results include more than the usual first, second, and third place mentions.  We hope our results inspire you to try more than just a few new-to-you audiobooks.

The poll results are divided into four categories:

  • Your Favorite Audiobook Choices
  • Your Narrator Favorites
  • Favorite Audio Authors and the Like
  • And All the Extras

Your Favorite Audiobook Choices

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Speaking of Audiobooks: It’s All Linda Howard

Dream ManMention Linda Howard in a romance discussion forum and you’ll see highly favorable comments from her legion of fans.  Look closer and you’ll probably discover that her fans are seriously partial to one style of her writing over another.  You’ll find one group loving her series books while others swear by her lighter romantic suspense books and yet others fondly recall her frontier/westerns.  Fans are often disturbed that she doesn’t continue writing a certain type of book and may wish for the old days when she wrote the Mackenzie series or the likes of Midnight Rainbow – all series titles.

Writing romance for three decades now, Howard has penned series romance, contemporary, romantic suspense (both light and dark), frontier/western, paranormal, time-travel, and urban fantasy.  She has written more than fifty titles (the number is hard to verify since she has co-authored some books).  Best I can discover, thirty-six of her print books have been released in unabridged audio format with another five of her earliest books as abridgements.

Just as we have changed over the years, Howard’s writing has done the same.  She is not an author who stays still and you never know exactly what to expect with her next release.  And that is part of the magic of Linda Howard.  She always has a surprise around the corner.  Just when you think her books are tending to contain too much suspense and too little romance, she’ll turn around and hit us with the likes of the laugh-out-loud To Die For.  She’ll give us the darkness and separation of Death Angel only to deliver the humor and lighter contemporary romance in Veil of Night.

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Speaking of Audiobooks: Tavia Gilbert Interview and New Releases

Tavia GilbertThe 2012 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll is up and running.  It’s your chance to tell the audio industry what you like best about romance audio.  It’s a different type of poll this year and you will find few of the same categories as our 2011 Poll.  The poll ends Monday, July 2nd at midnight.  So go cast your ballot!

We’re continuing to celebrate June Is Audiobook Month with our fourth special event – an interview with Tavia Gilbert.  Tavia was a finalist for an Audie Award this year and attended the ceremony earlier this month.  She’s giving us an inside look at the Audies and the Audio Publishers Association and sharing a little about her career.  There’s another event that has Tavia’s name on it this month and that is the release of Jeaniene Frost’s Once Burned.  Tavia is once again in the narrator’s seat with Vlad’s book – something that Night Huntress fans have been waiting for.

We also have our New Releases for July and a number of reviews.  Up for review today are Kristan Higgins’ Catch of the Day, J.R. Ward’s The Player, Shiloh Walker’s Ash trilogy, and Nora Roberts’ The Last Boyfriend.

Talking with Tavia Gilbert

Welcome to Speaking of Audiobooks Tavia and thanks for joining us today in this last of our special events celebrating June Is Audiobook Month (JIAM). It’s been exciting to watch all that is going on in the audio industry this month as well as looking from the outside in at the 2012 Audio Publishers Association (APA) Conference and the Audie Awards.  I see that you have been an Audie finalist three times including the 2012 Audies for your narration of The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball.  Can you tell us about the Audie Awards and what being a finalist means to a narrator?

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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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Speaking of Audiobooks: Audible Giveaway and Reviews (Contest Closed)

Butterfly SwordsJune Is Audiobook Month (JIAM) and we are celebrating!  We’re expressing our support for the audiobook industry today with an Audible membership giveaway.  If you are already a member, you know this means more books for you.  If you have yet to try Audible, this three-month membership requires no credit card and no commitment.  Audible even has a service to set you up with your gift membership.

Today’s Audible giveaway is sponsored by All About Romance.  Enter to win by commenting on this column by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Thursday, June 14th.  Usually our giveaways are limited to the U.S. and Canada.  However, this Audible gift membership is open to anyone who has access to Audible in his or her area.  We encourage multiple comments in our discussion but you will only be entered in the contest once.  If you review for another Web site or blog, please refrain from entering.  The winner will be notified by email on Friday morning and will have 24 hours to respond.  Another winner will be selected on Saturday morning if the winner has not responded.  The winner will be asked to provide the email address used for their current or future Audible account.

A Very Special Group of Reviews Today

We’re also celebrating JIAM today with ten reviews of the very latest in romance audio.  Up for review are Rachel Gibson’s Rescue Me, Jeannie Lin’s Butterfly Swords, Adele Ashworth’s Winter Garden, Patricia Briggs’ Fair Game, Amanda Quick’s Crystal Gardens, Carla Neggers’ Secrets of the Lost Summer, Nora Roberts’ The Witness, Nora Robert’s Carnal Innocence, Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot in the Sand, and Julia Quinn’s A Night Like This.

Our 2nd Annual Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll June 18th

We’ll continue to celebrate JIAM next week with Speaking of Audiobooks’ second annual Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll.  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, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and J.D. Robb’s In Death series are just that – first place winners.  Now we’re looking beyond those highly popular series to discover what other favorites are lurking out there.  We’ve also added some new categories making our 2012 poll truly unique. Continue reading

Speaking of Audiobooks: The Audies and Romance

iStock_000004062139SmallIf you have read even one of our Speaking of Audiobooks columns, it’s clear to you that I’m an avid proponent of audiobooks – romance in particular.  Celebrating June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) is a special joy in that its goal is to increase consumer awareness of the audiobook industry.  I’m amazed at the large number of planned events as well as the concerted effort to exhibit the vast array of choices, the ease of listening, and affordability of audiobooks to readers and non-readers alike.  Taking place in June as well are the Audio Publishers Association Conference and the Audie Awards Gala and Awards Presentation (sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association) for excellence in narration, direction, and engineering.

For years, I paid little attention to the Audies.  More often than not, those nominated for romance failed to impress me as worthy of such an award.  I started paying closer attention to the finalists in 2009 as the Speaking of Audiobooks column had become a twice-monthly event and we were seeing the occasional Audies comment in our discussion area.  We usually heard a confused “Huh?” while looking over each year’s romance finalists and, I fear, the awards were ignored for the most part.

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Speaking of Audiobooks: June 2012 Releases

Catch of the DayIn the world of audiobooks, June Is Audiobook Month 2012 (JIAM) is more than just an honored month.  In an effort to increase consumer awareness, special events are planned across the industry to promote, celebrate, and educate the public about the variety, ease, and affordability of audiobooks.

June Events

Speaking of Audiobooks enthusiastically supports JIAM and is joining in this celebration with three special events.  Watch for announcements on Twitter, our new Facebook page, our Goodreads group, or here at AAR.

Monday June 11th Giveaway

To kick off JIAM, it’s a giveaway unlike any other you’ve seen here at Speaking of Audiobooks.  We’re not exactly giving away audiobooks this time around but it’s a prize any audiobook listener – romance or not – will enjoy.  Included in this column will be reviews of ten recent romance audio releases.  We’re prepared and raring to go!

The week of June 18thOur Annual Favorite Romance Audiobook Poll

It’s a new take on favorites with few of last year’s categories.  After all, how often can you choose All Time Favorites?

The week of June 25th – A talk with Tavia Gilbert.  She’s narrating Jeaniene Frost’s highly anticipated Once Burned due out June 26th.  And we’ll have more than a few romance reviews as well.

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Speaking of Audiobooks: A Beginner’s Guide

Natural Born CharmerSo, you’re a romance fan who’s new to audiobooks.  Where do you start?  Or, say you are an audio fan and want to explore the romance genre.  Yet, when you look at the overwhelming number of available romance audiobooks, you have no idea where to start.

In our April column, Friends Helping Friends, we discussed the importance of seeking recommendations from those who have similar tastes to your own.  As a beginner, it is all the more important that you seek solid recommendations since outstanding audiobooks are a combination of an author’s talent and a narrator’s skill.  If a narrator can’t effectively deliver an author’s work, the audio version suffers.  On the other hand, a talented narrator can transform a ho-hum read into an above average listen.  And, as a beginner, you should consider these facts before committing to an audiobook.

Since the choosing can be difficult for the romance audio beginner, I’ve joined together with our audio reviewers to develop A Beginner’s Guide to Romance Audio.  It’s a list of audiobooks by sub-genre that we consider easy listens.  Not only is the story of high quality, but the narration is of such high quality as well that it flows effortlessly to a new listener’s ears.

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