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Category: Horror/Dark Fantasy

The Age of the Audiobook

Good morning bookies!

West Tennessee is wet and cold today, so let’s get straight to book stuff. I don’t know about you but I love audiobooks. I have for a long time now. Back in the late 80’s-early 90’s I had a job that had me driving all over the southeast and south, from Texas to Florida to North Carolina and home to Tennessee. I had a company car, or rather a company van, each of which was equipped with a fine stereo system and one of which had a showpiece audio system. 29 speakers, 17 of which were sub-woofers, 9 amplifiers, etc. I could literally make my windshield ripple from the sound pressure. And, for a while, it was great listening to music on those long drives of 8 or 10 hours. But only for a while. After a few years I wanted nothing more than silence while putting miles on the van, but the danger was that silence lead to fatigue and fatigue lead to car wrecks and…well, you get the idea.

And then I found the audiobook. Pop in something good read by a great narrator and presto! You’re two hours down the road and don’t remember getting there. Without exaggeration, audiobooks extended that career by at least two years, otherwise I would have gone nuts and quit.

So today’s link is a nice article on the future of audiobooks and featuring none other than Neil Gaiman, sort of the Superman of nuevo-Horror. I have long been thinking about getting an MP3 player and this makes it seem like a worthy investment.

Neil Gaiman and the future of the spoken word

As a bonus for today, let’s also look at one of my favorite sites, Librivox.org. Librivox features books in the public domain that are free to anyone. You can download them in MP3 format, or download the whole book and burn it to disc, which is what I do. The readers are all volunteers, which means that some are good, some are bad and some have accents so thick you can barely tell they are speaking English. But they are free, so what do you want? I’m currently listening to Book Two of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, I’m on disc 17 of 22, which 20 discs in book one. There are six books altogether. Whew! I’m glad it’s free. Now if I only had an MP3 player.


Stephen King-Peter Straub’s TALISMAN coming to comics

The aging novel co-authored by horror icons Stephen King and Peter Straub, 1984’s The Talisman, is being developed as a comic book by SFF publishing powerhouse Del Rey Books. Not bad for a 25 year old novel that most people had forgotten about. After a run of 24 issues it will then be released in a hardcover edition. Talk about cashing in.

But if that sounds snarky, I really should show more respect. Anything that helps good publishers stay afloat these days is fine with me and since I grew up reading comics I obviously have no problem with the format. So here’s hoping Del Rey makes loads of money on the project so they may then publish some new but promising authors.

Peter Straub & Stephen King come to comics again

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news.

It’s a bit drippy in Memphis today and book news is slow.

*** Whenever I mention stolen books to people who are not in the book business, either as sellers or librarians or even author, they are inevitably surprised that book thieves are a major problem. Apparently the belief is that books are somehow sacred to everyone and nobody would steal them. If that’s what you believe then let me disavow you of the notion right now. Even in Memphis, our little corner of the world, there are book thieves. Yes, it’s hard to believe. Yes, they are little better than vermin. But they do exist. And I know that sounds awfully harsh on my part, but books are my friends, almost as if they were sentient. (And if you’re a fan of Jasper Fforde you can understand that maybe they are sentient) Stealing a book is much like kidnapping and should be treated as such. Where’s the FBI when you need them?

When I ran my brick and mortar shop theft was a real problem. One particularly valuable book that was lifted I tracked down. I know who stole it, when, who they sold it to, how much they were paid, where the book was then resold, how much it was resold for (about 25% of its value) and who now owns it. What’s more, the scumbag who lifted it knows that I know. Or, if he didn’t before, he does when he reads this. That’s right, I know who did it. Even at this moment I am looking for a book that should be here but isn’t. Was it lifted before the shop closed? Could be. If I don’t find it I may never know.

So when I run across a story like the one in this article, it makes me quite happy to pass this on. One day, no doubt, I will read about one of Memphis’ notorious book thieves being booked for nabbing books, but in the meantime I will take vicarious pleasure is seeing another city’s lowlifes taking the fall.


*** Dateline, Nairobi, Kenya. Jerome Corsi, author of Obama Nation, who was detained at the airport before a news conference where his book was to be introduced, was expelled from that country by armed soldiers with parting cries of ‘See you in hell.’ As we have learned repeatedly, the written word is not always found to be sacrosanct in much of the world, or even most of it.

*** It is doubtful that anyone other than Neil Gaiman could have dreamed up Graveyard, much less written it. Gaiman fans know that his mind just works on a different level than other people, and that this is probably a good thing. His newest is about a boy raised in a graveyard by dead people, sort of a Jungle Book with tombstones. The interview below is lots of….fun?


*** Today’s obituaries include Charles Wright, the novelist who made black street life in New York come alive in the 60’s and 70’s with three heralded novels, The Messenger, The Wig and Absolutely Nothing to Get Alarmed About, died on October 1 in Manhattan. He was 76.

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