Audiobooks bring a whole new dimension to books
As an avid reader, I could never understand why anyone would consider listening to an audiobook. I love the feel and weight of a book, to see how far I’ve got in the story and to read the words on the page. An audiobook feels a little bit like cheating, like being spoon-fed the words without having to make the effort.
I’ve been proved wrong, of course. All around me, on public transport, walking down the street and in cafes and coffee shops people are plugged into their smartphones. I assumed they must be listening to music.
Then I read some statistics about audiobooks. The Publisher Association released figures showing that download sales rose by 22 per cent last year to £13 million: audiobooks are the fastest growing sector of digital publishing and sales have more than doubled in five years.
Everywhere I look, there are people moving around or sitting quietly with a rapt look on their face as they listen, I assume, to the spoken word. It’s true, audiobooks really are the new way of “consuming” books.
So, earlier this year I started the process of turning The Hidden Village into an audiobook.
It was a total revelation! Hearing the words I’d written spoken by a professional gave them an extra layer of meaning. So much so, that as I listened to the first recordings I occasionally wondered if my narrator, Liam Gerrard, had changed or added in words I hadn’t written. Referring back to my words, I saw he was reading exactly what I’d written, but through his intonation and differentiation of the characters, it felt different.
I started to listen to other audiobooks and soon found myself swept up by stories, finding I cared about characters much more than by reading. Often I don’t want the book to end.
I listen to audiobooks in my car when I drive to the station, the gym or my yoga class. Each “session” lasts no more than 15-20 minutes, but it’s enough to become totally immersed in the most gripping stories. Much depends on the narrator and the best make you forget it’s one voice as they deftly switch between accents, men and women and children.
If you haven’t tried audiobooks, you might be pleasantly surprised and find yourself a convert.
You could always start by listening to The Hidden Village, out now on Audible: