Audiobooks

Recommended: The Palace Job

by Michael Alderete on 11/18/2013 · 1 comment

The Palace Job is, by far, the best audiobook I’ve listened to in at least a year. Think Leverage meets Firefly meets The Wizard of Oz. (If you know Steven Brust’s Dragaera, it’s a better fit than Oz.) The book is fun, funny, and thrilling from start to finish.

The Palace Job

First, the novel itself is terrific, with a great cast of characters, very-good-occasionally-awesome dialog, and lots of clever ideas. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, and it’s one of those books you power through, and then re-read sections, just to re-live the fun. I re-listened to the second half of the book (~5 hours) the day after finishing it, and found lots of neat, tight-fitting details that I had missed the first time.

Second, the narrator, Justine Eyre, is awesome. I pretty much never give a narrator the “golden voice” badge after just one book, but this performance was so strong, I was awarding it before the novel was half finished. Indeed, it was her voice on the 5 minute sample that convinced me I wanted to purchase and listen to the book sooner rather than later. She easily handles the two dozen or so distinct characters, with clear differences in tone and accent that make it easy to tell who’s speaking at any given time. And her performance really takes the humor to the next level, particularly with the dialog.

Who This Book is For

The book feels, in the best possible way, more like Firefly than anything I’ve come across. The characters, their relationships with each other, and a captain who never set out to be the good guy, but kind of ends up being one anyway. If you loved Firefly, as I did, you will love this novel.

My wife is a fan of Leverage, which I absorb by osmosis, and it has a bit of that feel, too. Action, capers, revenge, and humor. If you like Leverage, you’ll like this book.

Someone, maybe Greg Rucka, described the book as Ocean’s Eleven with a unicorn. That works, too, and if you like Ocean’s Eleven, or (forgive me) horny unicorns, you might like this book, too.

At any rate, the author is already working on a second book, in what I hope will be a long series. This first book stands alone, but I’m very excited to know there will be more.

Highly recommended.

Update: Here’s another review of The Palace Job, from Sigrid Ellis. He notes the same qualities I did, even down to the Leverage comparison. And writes “If you are the audience for this book, you will ab-so-freakin-lute-ly love it to pieces” — which I absolutely am, and did. :-)

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

With the launch of the store at Pottermore.com, it’s now possible to get digital versions of all seven Harry Potter novels.

Pottermore Shop

I own all of the audiobooks twice over, and several of the printed books, but the eBooks represent something new: the chance to read the British version of the novels. Alas, due to insanely complicated—and stupid—international publication rights and restrictions, and my credit card’s USA billing address, the Pottermore.com store did not want to allow me to buy the UK version of the books.

Here’s how I bought them anyway. (You can do the same for the audiobooks, too.) Read the rest of this entry (383 words) »

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Audiobook Builder 1.5

by Michael Alderete on 5/30/2011 · 1 comment

My recommended solution for creating digital audiobooks from CDs, Audiobook Builder, has recently been updated, and comes with a new feature for renaming the chapters in an audiobook:

Rename Chapters feature

I don’t know that I’d want to use this on every book, but for those without interesting or meaningful chapter names (or if you’re just not as anal retentive as I am), this can be a nice time savings to make your chapter titles look neat and regular. This is especially useful if you’re creating a separate track for every chapter, and want to keep chapters in the right order. (I recommend a different approach, but it’s up to you.)

Other new features include additional metadata support, something that’s very welcome. All in all, a great update — and free to registered users!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Which iPod Should I Buy, 2010 Edition

by Michael Alderete on 12/8/2010

Two years in the making, or just two years late. At long last I’ve updated the article describing recommended devices for listening to audiobooks:

Which iPod Should I Buy for Listening to Audiobooks

Hopefully this will be useful to you during your holiday shopping! (And come back for my Recommended Audiobooks when you find a new toy under the tree for yourself, that’s getting a huge update soon.)

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Read me a story, Brad Pitt

by Michael Alderete on 2/5/2009 · 3 comments

It’s an older article, but Slate Magazine has a terrific piece about the importance of narration in the quality of audiobooks, from hard boiled fiction to urban sociology. Read Me a Story, Brad Pitt is subtitled “When audiobook casting goes terribly wrong,” and gives examples of the three most common — and easily avoided — mistakes that audiobook publishers make. I always recommend that you listen to the audio sample provided at Audible.com or the iTunes Store before making a purchase; audiobooks can be expensive, and mistakes add up to real money fast.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Making Nearly Perfect Audiobooks

by Michael Alderete on 1/30/2009 · 15 comments

This is an overview of my current process for importing audiobooks. It’s a preview of my forthcoming (no, really, I promise) update to my instructions for importing audiobooks from CDs into iTunes. For OCD types, anal-retentives, and Harry Potter fans (hello brothers and sisters!), this preview may be sufficient for you to follow along on your own computers. For normal people, it’s a look at how much effort it still is to create audiobooks that behave as you’d expect and desire in iTunes and on an iPod.

The Motivation

But before seeing the tedious steps, here’s the why of it. Audiobooks processed as I do below are easier to organize and navigate, and they behave the way I want them to, instead of behaving as individual tracks.

Read the rest of this entry (1,029 words) »

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Useful news feeds at Audible.com

by Michael Alderete on 12/19/2008

If you are looking to stay “on top” of all the latest audiobook releases, there are a variety of sources. Most of the different audiobook publishing houses and audiobook stores have email newsletters, or even paper catalogs they will send you in the mail. I’ve signed up for a lot of these, and find them useful.

But the best source for audiobook releases news I’ve found are the RSS feeds offered by Audible.com. They have feeds for the latest releases, but they also have feeds for best sellers from various lists (NYTimes, etc.), best sellers in various categories, and feeds for specially priced titles, including free content. Audible’s feeds used to be awful, abbreviated entries that were almost useless. But at some point they got a whole lot better, and now tell you the book title, author, and give the full description for the book. They even link to an audio sample of the book, for you to listen to before you buy. Since Audible has the largest catalog of audiobooks, this is about as comprehensive a source as you can find.

Unfortunately, while I would like to link directly to Audible’s feeds page, their horrible web site makes it impossible to directly link to some pages, including that one. So I can only describe how to navigate there yourself.

  1. Start at the Audible.com home page.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
  3. Click the “RSS” link, which looks like this:

Audible RSS Link

Find a feed that appeals to you, and subscribe to it in your usual newsreader, e.g., Google Reader, NewsGator’s excellent readers, etc. (If you don’t know what a newsreader or RSS feed is, this What is RSS? article is a pretty good introduction.)

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

iPod-friendly downloads from libraries

by Michael Alderete on 12/15/2008 · 19 comments

A couple of weeks ago, OverDrive, a technology vendor that provides many libraries with the software behind their download-to-loan content, released a new version of the OverDrive Media Console that is now Mac-compatible and iPod-friendly. It accomplishes this by providing loanable downloads in MP3 format, instead of a DRM-wrapped WMA (Windows Media) format.

It’s not clear to me how OverDrive protects the downloaded content, enforces lending period constraints, or otherwise restricts the use of audiobooks downloaded using their system. Some of the instructions and FAQs make it sound a little cumbersome, and generally content producers (the audiobook publishers) require pretty strong restrictions. So I’m a little hesitant to install the new software on my computer (I really need to get a test system…), fearing some hidden DRM kernel extension, or other invasive software.

It’s also not clear to me how much content is available to the new Media Console, at least in the MP3 format supported for Mac users. The older WMA format is much more broadly enabled, as it includes DRM restrictions that publishers are comfortable with. But you can search OverDrive’s national directory of libraries and see if content is available from a library or other source near you.

If you give it a try, let me know how it works for you. Otherwise, I’ll try to give it a whirl in the new year, and post an updated then.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

iTunes 8 is great for audiobook lovers

September 11, 2008

The number one question I receive from visitors to Aldo on Audiobooks is “How do I get my audiobooks to show up in the Audiobooks section of iTunes and my iPod/iPhone?” iTunes 8 makes answering this question almost trivial. Here are the details.

Read the full article →

iPhone user interface quirk #1 for audiobooks

April 23, 2008

Dan Sanderson provides a clear explanation, including pretty good photos, of one of the user interface “quirks” that can get you when using the iPhone for audiobooks, namely, the iPhone’s indicator and toggle buttons for Repeat and Shuffle modes are somewhat hidden, not 100% clear, and can be toggled accidentally if you’re not careful. When […]

Read the full article →

Free audiobooks via podcasts

April 16, 2008

The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran a story about fledgling authors who get their start by publishing their books online, via podcast: Take my book. It’s free. Giving away books as podcasts is new way to promote sales. The basic idea is, the author reads their novel a chunk at a time, recording it, and […]

Read the full article →

Random House dropping DRM for audiobooks

February 27, 2008

In a weblog post titled A Big Day For DRM, writer Maya Reynolds provides a concise (after three paragraphs about a hotel upgrade) and personalized look at this week’s news that Random House Audio Group is dropping DRM from their audiobooks.

Read the full article →