Round up #147: focus on audio

Round up #147: focus on audio

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Interesting results in my recent polls

I recently polled my readers about books and formats

In which format do you read the most books?

and was intrigued and educated by some of the results.

Let me first state, as I assume is apparent, that this is not at all a scientific survey. I do love the scientific method, and I like to look at methodology, but this is simply self-reporting of a small and undeniably unusual group of respondents…my readers. 😉

First, when I look at this question: “In which formats have you read a book in the past 12 months?” e-books are fewer than half of the responses. Pretty evenly split, actually, were paperbooks and audiobooks. I would say I have underestimated the amount of audiobooks for my readers. Regular readers know I’m not a big consumer of audiobooks myself, although I can see the attraction. In terms of the industry, electronic versions of audiobooks have been one of the bright spots for some time.

Second, my readers report reading a lot more e-books than p-books (paperbooks). That’s part of what started that post. Pew had suggested that p-books were twice as popular as e-books…not with my readers. About 30% of the respondents said they read about 1 e-book a week (25-52), the most popular answer. The second most popular response (28%) was that they had read more than 52 e-books in the past 12 months. For p-books, the most popular response was about one per season (1 to 4 in the past 12 months) at 40%. The second one was “none” at 38%.

In terms of paperbook formats, more people were reading mass market paperbacks (the smaller ones) than I might have guessed…that’s a segment that’s been rapidly declining in market share, pretty much supplanted by e-books. My guess here is that many of those read are ones that my readers already owned, rather than new ones that they purchased recently.

I left off a couple of options in the poll (that happens), and they both related to early generation technology. One was listening to audiobooks on EBRs (E-Book Readers). Amazon had eliminated audio from EBRs some time back…but people certainly were listening on older gen Kindle EBRs. Another one was listening to audiobooks on CDs. I probably should also have included the original popular version, “books on tape”…audiocassettes.

Speaking of how my readers play their audiobooks, that was a lively topic in the comments on the blog recently. I naively was thinking that not having the recent

New Prime benefit: Audible Channels for Prime

available for Amazon’s own Fire Tablets at this point (I expect it to come later) might have been because Amazon figured that not that many people listen to audiobooks on tablets who don’t have a SmartPhone option.

That was silly of me: after all, I generally listen to text-to-speech (TTS), which is my preference, on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7 in the car. For one thing, I’d say the tablet generally has better battery charge life doing the same sorts of functions as the phone does. I haven’t really tested that recently, though.

For my readers, it went like this:

What do you use to play your audiobooks?

  • A SmartPhone 28.3% (45 votes)
  • A tablet 23.9% (38 votes)
  • I don’t listen to audiobooks 16.98% (27 votes)
  • An Echo device 16.35% (26 votes)
  • An MP3 player 10.06% (16 votes)
  • A laptop 3.14% (5 votes)
  • A desktop 1.26% (2 votes)
  • A smart watch 0% (0 votes)
  • A TV streamer (Chromecast, Fire TV) 0% (0 votes)
  • Total Votes: 159

A SmatPhone was highest, which is what I would have guessed. Next a tablet…and then I’m glad I included Echo devices! I’ve done that…listened to some of Dracula read by Tim Curry and Alan Cumming (and others) (at AmazonSmile*). I thought there might be some SmartWatch users…I’ve suggested Amazon could create a wearable for audiobooks, TTS, and so on. I also thought some might have used a TV streamer…Fire TV is so popular! However, how you would do it isn’t that obvious…they don’t have a category for it on the Fire TV homescreen, for example. One way to do it would be to listen to audiobooks on YouTube…they do have an app for YouTube, and there are a lot of audiobook videos there. You can also use the Alexa functionality to listen to your Audible books…I’ve tried that with Dracula, too. Audiobooks on TV seems like a great way to go to me…particularly the family listening to something together, or just while you were doing chores. An Echo device can do that, sure, but I assume more people have TVs at this point than Echo devices. 😉

Anyway, interesting information…thanks for answering!

EBOOK FRIENDLY: 8 Google search tips for book lovers


EBOOK FRIENDLY post by Piotr Kowalczyk

is yet another great and useful post from this superior site!

You’ll see how to find books to read online, rich information about authors, comparison shop prices for e-books, and so on.

Well done!

OPEN CULTURE: Hear 75 Free, Classic Audio Books on Spotify: Austen, Joyce, Bukowski, Kafka, Vonnegut, Poe, Kerouac & More

I was writing about audiobooks above, and, well, who knew? Okay, I don’t want to be naïve again…maybe everybody but me. 😉 This

Open Culture post (by Dan Colman?)

list many well-known books read by famous narrators…available for free at Spotify (you need a free account).

These aren’t all public domain (not under copyright protection) books, although many are. Some are read by the author (Langston Hughes, T.S. Elliot, to name two), some by actors (including Alec Guinness, Christopher Lee, and John Gielgud). I would guess there are hundreds of hours of entertainment here.

What happens when an e-book store closes?

I’ve said many times that I am more confident that my e-books will be read by my descendants after I’m gone than that my p-books will be. I’m speaking specifically of my Kindle books…I’m hard-pressed to see a situation in which that valuable an asset would not continue in some way. Either it would become legal for us to break the DRM (Digital Rights Management) because a “decoder” is not commercially available (you would have to download the books first…but I wouldn’t expect Amazon to shutter with no notice), or someone else would “buy the accounts”.

According to this

mobileread post by “chrisridd”

the latter is happening with Sainsbury’s Entertainment on Demand.

According to the memo posted and reported to have come from the company, there are refunds for some types of content (movies, TV, digital magazines), and you can download your MP3s before the shutdown, but e-books are being transferred to Kobo.

An irritation revisitation

I’m talking a lot about audio in this round-up, so I do want to mention one more thing.

My Significant Other needed a new read, and a reader, Carolyn perreau, had recently recommended Dorothy Abbott’s mysteries. Fortunately, what seemed to be the most popular books were part of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Since we’ve been happy members of Amazon’s subser (subscription service) since the launch, we were able to read that at no additional cost.

I sent the first one in a series to my SO’s device, and to mine:

Only The Innocent (at AmazonSmile*)

I was looking forward to listening to in using TTS on my way to and from work the next day…I was going to have a commute which was likely to be a couple of hours.

I was disappointed, because although TTS was enabled, the e-book only wanted to play the audiobook. That was even though I had removed the audiobook which automatically downloaded with the e-book, restarted the device, restarted the Kindle reader, removed the e-book, download it again, etc., etc. 🙂

I’ve called Amazon about this a couple of times in the past with different books. I totally understand that most people see the audiobook as a bonus, a big plus. I don’t like to listen to an audiobook unless I’ve already read the book (as I put it, I don’t like the author/actor to interpret the characters for me).

If I could have had TTS on the book, I’d probably be most of the way through it by now (a few days later), if not actually finished.

As it is, I haven’t really started it.

I have books which don’t work well with TTS, so I sight read them…I’ve been reading

Keep Watching the Skies by Bill Warren (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which I’m really enjoying. It’s about 1950s science fiction movies (in the USA). I’ve seen almost all of the movies (I’m about 2/3rds of the way through…I would guess I haven’t seen fewer than ten of them so far…a couple of real rarities, a couple of “adult movies”)) nudies, as they might have been called then)), which simply wouldn’t have been available to me when I was watching most of these), but am getting quite a bit of insight into them.

There are pictures I want to see, so I don’t want to do TTS with that book.

My SO and I enjoy reading the same book at the same time, so we can discuss it afterwards (no spoilers). I’ll say that we read socially, although I won’t deny a touch of competitiveness in it. 🙂 I’ve kidded my SO about that saying, “I can be less competitive than you can!”

As it is, I’m sure my SO will finish the book first…and be on to the next one (if this one is enjoyed) before I do.

By the way, in case your thought is this might be a publisher thing…it’s published by Amazon’s own traditional publishing mystery imprint. 🙂

Carla Hayden: LoC

I didn’t want to end with a negative, so here’s a nice profile piece on the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden:

The New Yorker post by Daniel. A. Gross

I think Hayden may move the digitization efforts forward in a more focused way, which I would like to see. 🙂

What do you think? What would you like the Library of Congress to do in the future? Do you listen to a lot of audiobooks? Do you worry about what will happen to your e-book collection in the future? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.



4 Responses to “Round up #147: focus on audio”

  1. John Aga (@jbaga01) Says:

    I believe that while more people read pbooks than eBooks, I believe eBook readers read far many more books on average per person than the average pbooks reader.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, John!

      That’s my belief as well. I don’t think it’s necessarily that e-books are easier to read (although text-to-speech can certainly mean I read more books more quickly). I think a big factor is that the more people love to read, the more they love e-books. E-book advantages are magnified when you read multiple books at a time or sometimes need more than one book with you at a time even when you read serially (in case you finish a book while you are out). So, I think people who read more books already were more likely to switch to e-books (even if the switch isn’t 100%).

  2. Tom Semple Says:

    There is a setting (‘Reader Settings’) to auto-download companion audiobooks. If you turn that off, then it will stop downloading audiobook unless you ‘manually’ download it.

    On my Fire HD6, I have the opposite problem: I want the audiobook to play instead of TTS, but it does not always comply. Moreover, when it does work, switching modes to access the audiobook controls (sleep timer, reading speed), causes a cascade of ‘go to latest reading position’ dialogs even though audiobook playback is in progress. Very easy to jump to the wrong location. And there’s no ‘auto-remove companion audiobook’ so managing the content is awkward. Makes it unpleasant compared to the iOS or Android apps. Collections are messed up as well, I’ll make a change but it does not ‘stick’. And for some reason ‘Page Flip’ has not shown up although other people with the same model claim they have it. The audiobook player is inferior as well, noting that Channels and Audio Clips have been available in the iOS, Android, and even Windows Audible apps for months now.

    Fire tablets may be inexpensive, but I feel it is a false economy when glitches like the above go uncorrected. By contrast, the Android and iOS Kindle and Audible apps get frequent feature updates and bug fixes, even on devices that are several years old. I suppose none of that matters if you are using Fire for watching video or playing games, but I don’t do much of that with mine. I do like having TTS, and Word Runner for some types of reading, but I wish they had more focus on Fire as a reading device, at least at the level of the Kindle apps for iOS and Android. I would just get rid of the tight integration of the reading and audiobook apps with FireOS, and just have the ‘regular’ Android Kindle and Audible apps instead (with TTS added to the former of course). I hate having to get a new Fire just to get new reading features.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      I should have mentioned that…I do have that setting off so it shouldn’t automatically download the audiobooks. I believe it doesn’t unless it is Kindle Unlimited. I also have the text-to-speech enabling setting turned on.

      I’d go with you on the regular Android Kindle app being the one on the Fire tablets…it’s funny, you would think the tablet would be more advanced than the mobile version. That’s not to say that the Android app has everything the FireOS version does, but a single development (if possible) would be more efficient and consistent.

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