Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Week 11 Prompt: Ebooks and Audiobooks

The landscapes of e- and audiobooks absolutely represent my growing edge in terms of librarianship and reader’s advisory. My experience with ebooks is limited: I turn to ebooks only out of necessity (the book isn’t available in a print version) or convenience (the print version is huge, and I can’t practically carry it with me throughout my day). I don’t have a portable e-reader, which has further curtailed my use of ebooks.
Audiobooks are somewhat more familiar to me. I have had a lot of fun exploring the audiobooks available through the Hoopla platform at my local library, and will often try out multiple different narrators, when available, before settling on the one I’d most like to listen to--the impact of narrator as appeal factor is real! I’ve found that the audiobook format encourages me to read more international novels and classics than I naturally gravitate towards. The liveliness of a good narrator brings more stodgy classics to life, and I appreciate hearing the correct pronunciation of names in international novels.
But while I have some experience with both of these formats, I’ve thought little about how they affect reader’s advisory practices. Dunneback (326) points out that, just as it is important to be aware of the books in one’s print collections, it is equally important to develop an awareness of the e-books in one’s collections. The challenging nature of developing such an awareness had never occurred to me, and I was grateful for Dunneback’s suggested resources for learning more about e-books of various genres and eras.
The ability to serve as not just an advisor in terms of content but also technology and access is another matter Dunneback raised which I’d never before considered. She brings up the great point that “ Library patrons come to us for help in figuring out the best possible reading experience” (327), and that this necessarily includes the format of the book as well as its genre, pacing, tone--placing format squarely in the “appeal factor” category. I’ve had a subconscious awareness of format-as-appeal-factor ever since I listened to the incredible audiobook version of The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis, narrated by James Avery. When I was recommending the book to a friend one day, I found myself specifically recommending the audiobook as narrated by James Avery: my reading experience had been so completely influenced by his rendering of Curtis’ moving, hysterical text.
I feel motivated now to increase my exposure to e-books and audiobooks, and familiarize myself more thoroughly with the pros and cons of the two formats. It was interesting to read, for instance, that many e-book readers gravitate towards the format because it saves them from having to look at an ugly book cover! While I’m not sure how to incorporate this tidbit of knowledge into my reader’s advisory practices--yet!--it effectively demonstrates one of the appeal factors of e-books, and reminds me to bear the unique qualities of these formats more centrally in mind.


  1. Hi Avery,

    Great points on e-books and audiobooks! I feel very similar as you do to both formats. While I still greatly prefer audiobooks to e-books I definitely value each format much more than I ever did previously to beginning my MLIS, as well as participating in an internship last summer. It’s interesting that after working with these formats every day and fielding questions from patrons on these formats and devices I gained a newfound respect and interest for them. I like your point on these new formats affecting appeals for advisory as well as the motivation you feel to become better acquainted with these formats; and I agree. I feel we as librarians must be at least somewhat familiar with all the devices a patron might approach the desk as well as all the formats and digital/downloadable materials the library offers. Lastly, I can also appreciate with your view on narration in audiobooks. There are just some audiobooks that are made complete by the narrator’s ability and I find myself recommending these books to friends and family; while staying quiet about some of the other lackluster performances.

  2. Hi Avery,

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. BookList online publishes audiobook reviews in every issue. Here is the link for the current one:
    I hope you find this helpful.

  3. Avery, your comments are so thoughtful and spot-on. I wish I'd been able to express my thoughts as well as you did. I wasn't aware that there were choices in narrator for some books. Do you mean the same book, but read by different people? Wow. I guess I just thought each book would only be done once, but now that you say it I can certainly see how publishers might want to create various editions. Fun... This assignment has opened up several good review options and ideas which I'm going to incorporate into my routine for both ebooks and audios, beyond just the regular award lists. So helpful!

  4. Fantastic prompt response! You hit the nail on the head. Full points!