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Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling
FEB. 22, 2014

I find that when I listen to a story, instead of reading it on a page, my memory of the book does change. I remember more of the action and less of the language, although sometimes when I listen a sentence will drop into my mind and shock me into attention in a way that is less common when I read. (Mind you, it helps to have a good reader.) You don’t check back on previous paragraphs or read the last page first when you listen. You move forward, and what you carry with you is person and event.

I listen the way I read books as a child, as if I were there watching. The author becomes more transparent, the characters more real. Listening to “Bring Up the Bodies,” I don’t think, what is the author, Hilary Mantel, up to? I feel the threat of death damp on my skin. And when I have listened to a book in a particular place — the ferns beneath the oak trees — I remember the book when I come back to that place, as if my hands in the soil were digging up the words.

今までのAudibleは本を読むことが基本でしたが、昨年Jeffery Deaverが野心的な試みをしたのを知りました。本はなくAudibleでしか発売しない、29名の役者を揃えた本格的オーディオドラマを発表したのです。これもニューヨークタイムズのOpEdで知りました。これはなかかなすごいです。

Hearing Is Believing

THE thriller writer Jeffery Deaver has released an original work called “The Starling Project” as an audiobook — only it’s not what we think of as an audiobook: a printed book read aloud that you can listen to on your laptop or phone. Featuring 29 actors in more than 80 speaking roles combined with “state-of-the-art sound and music design,” Mr. Deaver’s “book” was conceived as an audio drama for Audible. There are no plans to turn it into a traditional text-based book, either on paper or digitally.

That was fast. First we went from books to e-books, and now we’re going from e-books to no-books. What’s next? Books embedded in a chip that delivers “content” directly into our brains?

Is such an innovation even necessary? When you think about it, that’s what audio does now. Listening is more efficient than reading: When we read, we absorb print with our eyes and translate it into “meaning,” a cumbersome process that requires us first to see the words, then to make sense of them, and finally to employ our imaginations to conjure up events and sounds and characters that aren’t there. Reception by aural means is more direct: All you have to do is listen. Not only that, you can multitask, driving to work or walking the dog.

The Starling Project (2014)
An aborted raid targeting a major arms dealer. A hostage standoff at a bank that may not be what it seems. A plot to spring a former African dictator from prison. What is the threat that connects them all? And just who is the mysterious mastermind, The Starling? From Mexico to Washington – from London to Marseille to Prague – war crimes investigator Harold Middleton and his team of Volunteers risk their lives to follow the trail of clues. But how can they stop The Starling – when he always seems one step ahead?
With more than 80 speaking roles and state-of-the-art sound and music design, The Starling Project is an immersive listening experience written by Jeffery Deaver.


An Art Form Rises: Audio Without the Book

“The Starling Project,” which came out in mid-November, will test the appetite for an emerging art form that blends the immersive charm of old-time radio drama with digital technology. It’s also the latest sign that audiobooks, which have long been regarded as a quaint backwater of the publishing industry and an appendage to print, are coming into their own as a creative medium.
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Just as original TV series like “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” transformed Netflix into a content creator as well as a distributor, Audible is aiming to distinguish itself in the booming audiobook market with original audio dramas that are written specifically for the form.

So far, Audible has commissioned and produced around 30 original works, as varied as a serialized thriller about a conspiracy that drives India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear war, and original short stories set in the world of Charlaine Harris’s vampire novels.


Next year, the audiobook producer GraphicAudio will release its first two original series, including a Western crime drama and a full-cast epic fantasy that’s complete with elaborate sound effects and recorded in surround sound.

Some see the current audio renaissance as a modern version of the Golden Age of radio drama — a rare instance when technology is driving the evolution of an art form, rather than quashing it. Along with the surge in audiobooks, podcasts have become a surprising new form of popular entertainment, with some programs drawing audiences that rival those of cable shows. One standout example, “Serial,” a true-crime saga that re-examines the 1999 murder of a teenage girl in Maryland, unfolds in weekly episodes and has been streamed or downloaded more than five million times since its introduction in October.


It’s no surprise that authors are eager to make their mark in the medium. As the print business stagnates, digital audiobooks are booming. In the first eight months of this year, sales were up 28 percent over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers. Meanwhile, hardcover print sales for adult fiction and nonfiction fell by nearly 2 percent.

Audiobook publishers, scrambling to meet rising demand, released nearly 36,000 titles in 2013, up from 6,200 in 2010, according to the Audio Publishers Association. Audible, which Mr. Katz founded nearly 20 years ago and sold to Amazon in 2008 for a reported $300 million, still dominates the market, with more than 170,000 works, including 18,000 produced this year alone.

But the company faces growing competition as more companies seek a foothold in this fast-growing corner of the digital media marketplace. This month, Penguin Random House’s audio division introduced its first app, Volumes, which allows listeners to sample free content, play audiobooks from their digital libraries and buy audiobooks with one click from the iBooks Store. Barnes & Noble just released an audiobooks app for its Nook tablets and Android devices, with more than 50,000 titles.

Other newcomers jostling for a slice of the audiobook market include the e-book subscription platform Scribd, which recently added 30,000 audiobooks to its digital subscription plan, and Skybrite, a new streaming audio service that has 10,000 titles and an all-you-can-listen to membership for $10 a month.


First, he created a flow chart outlining a plot about a retired army intelligence officer, Harold Middleton, who is recruited to stop a shadowy mass-murder plot called “The Starling Project.” The action spans the globe, with scenes in Mexico, Washington, London, Marseille and central Africa.

Mr. Deaver quickly ran into problems, though. It was tricky to establish geographic locations through dialogue in a way that didn’t seem hokey (he opted for a flight attendant’s announcement in one scene, welcoming travelers to France). He struggled to incorporate sound effects without muddying characters’ conversations with blaring motorcycle engines and machine gun fire. Without an omniscient narrator, he had to find new ways to establish relationships between the characters.

“You don’t want to write too on the head and say, ‘I don’t like you, you did something bad back then,’ ” he said.

A sex scene also proved challenging. “I didn’t have a clue how to handle that,” he said. “Do we have a zipper sound? Two shoes falling to the floor?” (They went with swelling music instead of sound effects for that scene.) But Mr. Deaver adjusted his writing style to the medium, and he finished the book in about five months.

Audiobookブームはスマホが一人一台になってきた流れの現象でしょうか。新たなテクノロジー、メディアの出現によって我々の楽しみのあり方、消費の仕方が変わってくるのは面白いですね。そもそも小説が19世紀に流行するまでは、演劇や詩が王道だったのですから。。。Hearing is belivingでは以下のように語っています。口承文学はむしろ原点回帰なのかもしれません。

The aural/oral revolution won’t mean the end of the book any more than the e-book did. Besides, the “non-text-based” work of literature has a long tradition. “In the history of mankind, words were heard before they were seen,” wrote Albert B. Lord, the author of “The Singer of Tales,” a classic work of scholarship that traced oral literature from Homer through “Beowulf” and the tales, still recited today, of Balkan poets capable of reciting thousands of lines of verse by heart.

Progress doesn’t always mean going forward.

次もこういうのがあれば聞いてみたいと思います。新しいAudio book体験を是非!