Since I have become an audiobook blogger, I have come across a bunch of interesting little facts about audiobooks. And I bet you don’t know all of these yet!
Whether you want to know more about becoming an audiobook narrator yourself, or just want some solid facts about audiobooks to tell the haters around you, these 5 things are really useful to know for every audiobook fan.
1. You, too, can become an Audiobook Narrator!
On LibriVox, everyone can volunteer to narrate, produce, or proof-listen to audiobooks. LibriVox is a project entirely made up of volunteers who produce audiobooks of classic literature in the public domain. The audiobooks are free. And they welcome contributors!
So, if ‘narrate an audiobook’ is on your bucket list, this is definitely the place to go. And if you are planning to pursue a serious career as an audiobook narrator, editor, or proof-listener, this might be a nice place to start, learn, and get feedback on your skills and technical set-up.
I have actually tried it myself and contributed to two audiobooks Eline on LibriVox. There are a lot of steps involved in the process of creating an audiobook but the LibriVox people have all been extremely nice and take new volunteers by the hand so we get everything right. You can always find several open projects, including novels from different genres, non-fiction texts, as well as short stories and poetry.
These are the steps you need to take to get started as a narrator on LibriVox:
- Get a somewhat decent microphone so you don’t sound like you are sitting in a train station.
- Be willing to read a few guides on Audacity (free recording software).
- Read the instructions from LibriVox on how exactly you need to set up Audacity and how to prepare your files before upload.
Related article: Where to Find Free Audiobooks online that are Worth your Time
2. Audiobooks were invented for the Blind!
I’m sure at one point or another, someone outright said to you or implied that audiobooks are for people who are too lazy to read. That’s not at all their point!
While oral storytelling as a whole is a tradition as old as mankind, unabridged recordings of books were developed for the Blind and for injured veterans. Claiming that audiobooks aren’t real books is ableist.
Many people choose audiobooks due to disability, be it that they can’t physically hold up a book, that they can’t read because of brain injury or a visual impairment, or because of focus issues. Many of these readers have invisible illnesses or disabilities and you might not even be aware of how many people around you struggle with health issues that impair their ability to read books. Whenever audiobooks are described as “less than”, it directly reflects on all the readers who need audiobooks.
Audiobooks make literature accessible and no one should judge others for the way they read!
Related article: The History of Audiobooks and How They make Literature accessible
3. For your Brain, Listening to an Audiobook or Reading with your Eyes is the same Thing!
Your snobby relative is turning up their nose at your audiobooks? Well, next time, you will tell them this!
No one’s better suited to judge whether audiobooks are “cheating” or “less than real books” than a Professor of Psychology who focused his research on memory and learning!
Daniel Willingham says that your brain does the same things with a story, whether you listen to it or read it. Storytelling and listening are as old as mankind. The Professor explains that reading, from an evolutionary perspective, came later and uses processes in the brain that were already there from learning by listening. Reading with your eyes only adds the step of decoding the written letters. And for literate people, that is something that is basically automatic and doesn’t require much effort.
Therefore, reading with your eyes or listening to an audiobook is basically the same thing for your brain. The question is what you do with this information. You can read an entire print novel and not retain a single thing. The same thing can happen with audiobooks. But it’s more the content than the format that influences how much you remember.
Read the Professor’s entire article why audiobooks aren’t “cheating”.
Related article: Audiobooks vs Reading Print/Ebooks
4. Many Narrators actually Work from Home, and not in a Recording Studio!
I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of famous actors narrating audiobooks in big recording studios. But most audiobooks – almost all titles that are self-published or from smaller publishing companies – are actually recorded in small studios at home.
That doesn’t change the fact that good audiobook narration is very, very hard to do (just ask the people at LibriVox!). Our favorite narrators have a special kind of magic that makes us want to listen to their stories.
Not to mention their ability to read aloud – with verve – for hours and hours and hours… and hours. One hour of finished audiobook takes about 3 hours to produce. Every word has to be perfect and according to the original text. And narrators who produce audiobooks themselves also have to edit the sound files and create a finished product. Talk about multi-talented!
5. Audiobooks are more Captivating than Movies!
I bet you didn’t see this one coming! The University College of London conducted a study into people’s physical emotional reaction to stories they watch as opposed to stories they listen to. I think this snippet from the abstract summarizes the findings very well:
Although participants self-reported greater involvement for watching video relative to listening to auditory scenes, they had stronger physiological responses for auditory stories including higher heart rates, greater electrodermal activity, and even higher body temperatures.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325888541_Measuring_narrative_engagement_The_heart_tells_the_story
Meaning, participants SAID they were more captivated by videos. But the reactions of their bodies proved that they were actually more captivated by the audiobook. Listening to the story triggered a full-body emotional response which was much stronger than when participants watched a video!
And the researchers explain it like this:
We interpret these findings as physiological evidence that the stories were more cognitively and emotionally engaging when presented in an auditory format. This may be because listening to a story is a more active process of co-creation (i.e. via imagination) than watching a video.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325888541_Measuring_narrative_engagement_The_heart_tells_the_story
When we listen to audiobooks, we can imagine everything just the way we want to. The way it is most engaging to us, I suppose. Every special effect is perfect. The magic and the handsome protagonist look just right. And we’re more immersed in the story than when we watch it and see someone else’s imagination.
For me, this is one of the most fascinating facts about audiobooks! And it might explain why so many of us become addicted to audiobooks. I, for one, definitely have much less of a desire to watch TV than I used to pre-audiobooks. Unless it’s something really exciting like Good Omens, I rather just continue listening to Audible.
Read more about the Average Audiobook Listener!
Eline Blackman (pronouns: she/they) fell in love with books as a child – with being read to and reading herself. 10 years ago, she bought her first Audible book. It was love at first listen! An average of 250 audiobooks per year has become the new normal and you will rarely see Eline without a wireless earbud. Romance and Fantasy are the go-to genres for this audiobook fan.