Thursday, January 22, 2015

Audio Appeal

What makes an audiobook appeal to a reader? As a reader who goes through quite a few audiobooks, I find that certain factors make me more enamored of certain books, adding to the appeal of the book in new ways.

For me, series often come to be associated with the reader's voice, and I prefer the audiobook format for certain series as a result.
Ralph Cosham's voice is Armand Gamache and the other characters in Louise Penny's mystery series set in Quebec. His voice is the perfect mix of authority and gentleness that is the essence of Gamache. The other voices, conveyed through the smallest differences of inflection bring the other characters to life, from the abrasive poet Ruth to the calm and insightful bookstore owner and psychologist Myrna.
Dick Hill is Jack Reacher in Lee Child's thriller series. His voice is calm, sure of himself, yet not arrogant. It is strong, intelligent, and can slide into sexy as easily as Reacher dons a new set of clothes.
Jayne Entwistle is Flavia de Luce in Alan Bradley's mystery series. She conveys the quirkiness, intelligence, of the child perfectly. Her supporting voices for characters like calm, quiet Dogger, and silly yet solid Mrs, Mullet convey their natures to a tee.

Range of voices
For other books it is the wild range that a single reader can bring to a book to convey different characters.
Simon Vance does wonderful things with his voice in Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime mystery series to bring the wide variety of characters to life, ranging from wild Punch and Judy, to gruff bears, to aliens.
Laurel Merlington in Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad brings not only the voice of Penelope, but also the other maidens, to life in unique ways.
Stephen Fry brings us Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect along with the many characters they encounter along the way in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Evocative voices
Sometimes it is the fit the author makes of his or her reading to the book that makes it special.
Mark Bramhall, reading The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin does an amazing job of storytelling, using slow speaking, pauses and other means to bring the story to vibrant life.
Sunil Malhotta brings the perfect voice to Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, emotional yet never jarring.
Sissy Spacek reads the classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in such a way that you are in the story, feeling what Scout is feeling, experiencing what she is experiencing.
Cassandra Campbell reading The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon has the loveliest Italian accent that makes you feel like you are in Venice living the story of Caterina.

Authors as Readers
Books read by the author also have a different sense that makes you listen more closely
In See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid which has her using inflections, pauses, and a particularly non-emotional voice for very emotional scenes that add an intensity to the book.
Sidney Poitier's Life Beyond Measure, written as a series of letters to his first great-granddaughter has a more intimate feel with his reading than it would in another form or with a different reader.
Joshilyn Jackson's Backseat Saints comes alive with her sassy, twangy voice which exemplifies the daring story of Ro Grandee as she escapes her life to create a new one through delving into her past.
Winter Journal by Paul Auster is a memoir made all the more special and intimate with the author reading it making the emotions described real.

Multiple voices
Sometimes two or more voices can bring a different feel to a book.
In Richard Dawkin's memoir An Appetite for Wonder, the author reads the majority of the book himself, but the diary entries from his parents are read by Lalla Ward and bring a true sense of another viewpoint.
In Gone Girl, Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne become the voices of Amy and Nick, taking turns telling their disturbing story. The use of two voices here made the reality of two versions of a story stand out in an amazing way.
One Good Dog by Susan Wilson has two readers, Fred Berman and Rick Adamson for the voices of Adam March and the dog Chance, and this makes the two characters who become so important to each other distinct and individual.

What makes an audiobook appeal to you?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Shelf Inserts

 These shelf inserts are available from Carr McLean.  They fit most standard shelving that is 34 3/4 inches long and offer a 7 3/4 and 9 1/2 inch depth.  Clear acrylic, the inserts are compatible with any coloured shelf and instantly offers a clean and accessible display option.  At $62 CDN for the narrower depth and $74 for the wider, these are affordable in smaller quantities for most libraries.  The inserts are also available in double-sided versions for table tops.

At my library, 40 inserts were purchased to provide the entire youth section with more accessible display shelving.  As pictured, books were moved  to insert the display stand in the middle of the bay, at "grab it" height.  Previously, wire book stands were used to display items at the top of the bay and that was not as effective as youth rarely removed the books from that area.

These inserts assist with passive readers advisory and promotion of books to the youth audience.  These inserts will be tested in this area for implementation in other areas of the collection.

If purchasing these items are not possible, items can be displayed at a more accessible level for customers to reach using other less- expensive methods.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Few magazines offer readers' advisors as much insight into your readers than Bookmarks magazine.  The magazine's audience is avid readers and it provides brief and useful information to make informed reading choices.  Although it is great for library staff, the glossy cover is intended for purchase by readers on local newsstands.  Canadians can receive a subscription and it is available at a much lower cost than professional journals.

The magazine is available bi-monthly and follows a familiar format.  The first section includes the top ten picks from all books reviewed in the issue.  "Coming Soon" gives readers a look at forthcoming books and movie tie-ins.  The magazine invites readers to contribute through booklists, description of their book clubs and reading suggestions.  Two or three longer features are included and focus on a particular writer or a type of literature.  Finally, the magazine includes a large number of reviews.  The titles are reviewed by Bookmarks staff writers and reviews from major publications are also included for comparison.

The reviews offer a brief summary, some information about appeal factors and a lot of read-alikes.  All genres are covered, books for young adults and non-fiction are also reviewed.  The coverage is timely with books that will have received marketing and media coverage.  The books are usually widely available at bookstores and libraries.

Readers' advisors will find this publication very useful to them as it will greatly assist with the development of collection knowledge, especially new books that customers will be asking about.  The format is accessible and easy to use.  The magazines themselves will serve as a resource for continued use as a tool to aid readers.  For small libraries, it is an economical choice that should be considered in lieu of more expensive print reference books.