“I believe that audios add whole blocks of fans. I think the industry has to adapt, and however we can get new readers introduced to the joy of reading, we should do it.”
Talking with David Baldacci
In speaking with author David Baldacci about audiobooks, you soon realize he’s a “stone cold” optimist. “Some authors think that audiobooks detract from book readership,” he says. “I believe that audios add whole blocks of fans. I think the industry has to adapt, and however we can get new readers introduced to the joy of reading, we should do it.” Baldacci says that audios in all forms (cassettes, CDs, MP3-CDs, and downloads) account for about one-eighth of his total sales. “So if one of my books sells 700,000 copies in hardcover, nearly a hundred thousand more will be audiobooks.”
Baldacci’s latest thriller, SIMPLE GENIUS, was released in April 2007. His next book, STONE COLD, will debut in November 2007. “It usually takes me a year for one book, start to finish,” he says. “Two in the same year is a stretch, but do-able.” Baldacci says the research alone for one book often takes three months.
Baldacci came on board with audio with the publication of Wish You Well, his sixth book. “I took a great deal of interest in the production of that book. It has a Southern theme, and I wanted it just right. Kate Burton is perfect in her version.” Baldacci says the more the writer becomes involved in production, the better the production. “And this involvement turns you into more than a writer--you become a performance artist.”
Would Baldacci ever narrate his own books? “On the surface it sounds like a fun thing to do. I’ve been tempted. But narrating is a lot of work, and you have to have talented voices and different inflections. I think trained actors are better at it.” For his books Baldacci often asks for narrator Ron McLarty--“a real pro. Even though he’s been narrating my books for quite a while, I just recently met him.”
Baldacci and McLarty recently did a CBS program on audiobooks together. Yes, Baldacci listens to other writers as well. “My family and I just finished the latest Harry Potter and were quite impressed with it.” Baldacci is especially taken with Playaway audiobooks; that is, self-contained, portable digital recordings. “They’ve got everything you need--the story, earphones, a battery, and all. You don’t have to download or worry about scratches or jumbled cassettes. I just press the button and go.”
Though Baldacci gave up a successful law practice to become a novelist, he maintains he was a writer before he even became a lawyer. “I started writing when I was a kid. I wrote a lot of tales then. It was probably the reason I became a lawyer, to get people to believe my version of the facts.” Baldacci believes that perhaps he puts stories together differently than many writers. “As a writer you can do things one of two ways--you can be formulaic, or challenge yourself and take risks. I like to combine the ordinary with extraordinary events when I conceptualize the plot.”--Albert L. Holtz