Thanksgiving 2020: Grateful, too, for Audiobooks

My daughter has rediscovered books – ones without pictures! After a few years of toddler-wrangling (she had 3 babies in 2 1/2 years, now all still under 5 years old), she’s finally finding some time to read books that she can recommend to me. We discuss books! This is the first time since, well, her high school years (and I think she mostly read the Cliff notes then, anyway) – and we have a little book club of two going on. I have audiobooks to thank for that.

I’m so proud to be part of a vocation that brings books to those who simply don’t have the time to read with our eyes for long. My daughter can listen though…while walking, while cooking, while driving (if kids are occupied) – and her world has opened up again. Books do that. And while I have been an avid listener for years (as well as reader – well, since my kids have grown) I’m thrilled to see her rediscover that there is a whole world of stories beyond Disney Princesses and Dr. Seuss, and it reaffirms my commitment to the work we narrators do.

Let’s be candid. Audiobook narration doesn’t pay all that well, compared to other types of voiceover and narration. But, compared to other types of work, it does. Yes, we can work from home; yes, we can make our own schedules (usually), as long as we meet our deadlines; yes, we get the fringe benefits of experiencing books we might never have found otherwise.

But it’s a lot of work. Any narrator will agree. Not just the narrating itself – but the training, the warming up, the pre-reading, research, retakes, editing, etc. But I also think most of us will also agree that the work has a certain, well, nobility to it.

Commercials and e-learning often have a short shelf life – they are used up, and then often disappear. But audiobooks live forever. Years after I’ve almost forgotten I’d narrated something, I might get a grateful e-mail from a listener.? And: seeing people like my daughter rediscover the world of entertainment and information available to those who don’t have the time, eyesight, or “patience” to experience books on paper (or screen) brings me so much joy. Even in this weird year (or maybe, especially in this weird year) audiobooks are a beacon of possibility and a welcome distraction.

We are doing good work. I am proud to be a member of the audiobook community. Hope you are too.

And, of course, thanks to the authors, producers and distributors who make our work possible. Happy (2020-weird) Thanksgiving!


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