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What is an Audiobook Bonus?

As I prepared our “bonus” podcast episode for this week—Michael Imperioli’s interview with Behind the Mic host, Jo Reed—I delighted in the unexpected tidbits and behind the scenes chat that Michael offered: on the SOPRANOS set; working with Martin Scorsese; his friendship with Lou Reed. Michael’s insights and comments are the bonus to the bonus! Get the episode here. . . if you are not already hearing our daily podcasts.

There are actually loads of bonuses to audiobooks, and listeners have different points of view on what constitutes a bonus. Here are some of the elements of recent audiobooks that give them extra oomph.

Hear a favorite author

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

When a favorite author reads their own work, or a much-admired celebrity delivers their memoir, it can be a special treat.  Stephen King’s ELEVATION is just out—with the extra ‘bonus’ of King himself reading. Years ago I heard King talk about knowing “the boys in the basement.” Sometimes it’s only the author who can deliver that deep instinct about characters. Eric Idle’s memoir ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE gives us a listening experience that we relish—his humor and delivery are still so totally intact.

SX: Sound Effects

Unseen Academicals

There are listeners in the FOR and AGAINST camps on sound effects in audiobooks. My feeling has always been that sound effects have to be really, really good and they have totally work with the story. GraphicAudio has made it their mission to enhance their audiobooks with big sound, “movie” sound, and it takes over the story in a highly animated way. It’s fantastic for sci-fi thrillers like ALIVE which has both big sound and a dynamic cast. The BBC Radio style of sound effects with the subtle tinkle of glasses or the the quiet closing of the door first gave me an appreciation for the underlying soundscape. The creative British team that is producing the multicast dramas for Audible continues to garner praise, as the new UNSEEN ACADEMICALS that takes Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to new heights.

Non-sound Extras

The White Darkness
Salt Fat Acid Heat

The extras that come along with, or are accessible for an audiobook can add a fascinating bonus. I’m very interested in David Grann’s new audiobook THE WHITE DARKNESS, about the Antarctic explorations of Henry Worlsey. Photos, Worsley’s as well as historic images from Shackelton’s 1901 expedition, were included in the original The New Yorker article and are part of the hardcover edition. While listening I was able to view many of the photos, further illuminating the grueling journeys. Sometimes PDF files are available with the audiobook, as with Samin Nosrat’s cookbook and cooking science work SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT. Listeners now have the bonus option of watching Samin’s new show on Netflix this week. I always hope the audio publishers will offer auxiliary text or photos whenever possible. For years I have been delighted by the liner notes that accompany so many of Naxos AudioBooks’ classics and poetry collections, or the recent ARABIAN SANDS.

All of these extras expand our listening experience.  We continue to plan how AudioFile can amplify audiobook recommendations. The Behind the Mic podcast, our narrator videos—featured each week on this blog—and the more traditional interviews available from the AudioFile website, all offer a different point of interest to the audiobook. Please let me know what “bonus” features you enjoy, or might want to see.

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