Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Audiobook Week Day 2: Reviewing Audiobooks


It's Day 2 of Audiobook Week 2012 hosted by Jen a Devourer of Books. Today's topic for discussion is audiobook reviews:
Discuss the essentials of audiobook reviewing. What do you make sure to include? What do you want to see when you read other people’s reviews?

When it comes to reviewing books and audiobooks, it's important to remember that there is no set formula. Each of us has our own quirks and habits, so it makes sense that there are as many different review styles as there are bloggers. Although it's taken a couple of years, I've finally worked out a review format that works for me.

I always start with the basics: title, author, narrator, publisher, publication date, and length of production. The length important to me because it's nice to know whether the time commitment is eight hours or thirty hours.

A brief plot description follows. Some bloggers write wonderful plot descriptions but, unfortunately, I am not one of them. I will often use summaries from amazon or the publisher, and always give them credit. I have a feeling not many people read this section of a review. They may already have a general plot idea or prefer not to know too much about it.

Personal reaction and thoughts about the book comes next. This the main body of the review and consists of a few sentences or a few paragraphs (whatever it takes) explaining what I liked or didn't like, and, when possible, why. I'll often mention the reason I chose the book - book club selection, recommendation from another blogger, etc.

Specific thoughts on the audio production is an absolute necessity! How was the reader? Did his/her voice fit the book? I usually mention previous experience with the narrator. I also talk about special quirks or things to be aware of with the production. Finally, it important to mention whether the book works well on audio and why.

A rating. This is a semi-controversial area of reviewing. I rate books and appreciate when other do, too. I find it very helpful, especially with bloggers whose tastes I've become familiar with over the years. Rating can be trickier with audio - on rare instances, I've had to give two ratings, one for book and one for audio production. Many bloggers choose not to rate books and that's fine, too.

I like to end with the bottom line or a one sentence summary. This often restates my overall reaction and recommendation.

So that's my approach as it has evolved over the past few years. It works for me, but I know it's not for everyone. How do you go about reviewing audiobooks?

Visit Devourer of Books for links to others posts on this topic.








30 comments:

  1. I agree with your list. I really like reading about a blogger's reaction to the production of an audio book. I need to know if the narrator fits the story. It's pretty hard for me to review audio books because I really like including passages of the book in my review. That's hard to do without listening to certain parts over and over again.

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    1. Vasilly - Not having quotes readily available was my biggest hurdle in reviewing audiobooks. Sometimes I'll get a print copy from the library if I really want to include a particular passage.

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  2. Great criteria--that is what I look for in most of my audiobook reviews as well. I probably place the most emphasis on narrator, but the other factors matter as well. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Melissa - The narrator usually has the most influence over whether or not an audiobook works for me, but there are other considerations, too.

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  3. Loved this post! I realized that I never list the length of time of an audio and that's something I should do!! I will be referencing this often!

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    1. Staci - Thanks! Not everyone includes length of time, but I sure appreciate knowing how long it is up front.

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  4. I'm glad to hear your phrase: "no set formula". But you've presented many good points. Thanks for your thoughts. For today's discussion, I've 'embedded' it in my review of Brideshead Revisited.

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    1. Arti - I've tried to explain my approach to audiobook reviews, but there are many, many other ways to go about it. Wouldn't it get boring if we all used the same 'formula'? Can't wait to read your thoughts on Brideshead Revisited.

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  5. This is pretty much how I go about an audio review as well, although I don't put how long the production is, and I should do that. For me, if it is an audio and there is no mention of the narrator, I think what's the point?

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    1. Sandy - Exactly!! How is it even possible to review an audiobook without some mention of the narrator?

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  6. I totally agree that there's no one set formula, but then again, if you didn't mention the narrator, you didn't really write an audiobook review (and if you didn't mention that you listened to the audio, you're doing your review in general a disservice, too).

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    1. Jen - No set formula, but definitely some elements that MUST be included. There's no point in even calling it an audiobook review if there is no mention of the narrator.

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  7. I don't often review/read audio but I should remember to include the length when I do- I don't think I've ever thought to mention that but it's an excellent point!

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    1. Marie - It's such a minor detail, but one I really appreciate seeing in a review...

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  8. Thanks for talking about ratings, you are the first one so far that I've read today!
    I have not yet included ratings in my reviews, audio or print, and I'm debating with myself about it.
    If i end up doing it, I would definitely give 2 different ratings for audiobooks.
    here is my post for today: http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/06/26/so-you-want-to-review-audiobooks-audiobook-week-discussion-and-giveaway/

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    1. Wordsandpeace - It seems like bloggers are split on the ratings issue, but I'm all for them. I've only given two separate ratings for an audiobook once, but at audible.com they now have space for three ratings - overall, performance, and story.

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  9. I only read audiobooks if I'm taking a road trip by myself, so I would be more interested in the length and more importantly if the narrator kept your attention.

    P.S. I read North and South last summer. Perhaps an audio of this would have made it easier to get throughm although audios would naturally be longer than it takes to read. LOVE the cover on the "As Always Jack"

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    1. Georgia Girls - North and South is mostly an audio for me, but I do have it on my Nook, too. I'm really enjoying it. Think I'm about a quarter of the way through now. I've just started reading As Always, Jack for a TLC book tour. It's scheduled for July 16 and I have another copy to give away... stay tuned ;-)

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  10. Great post!! Love your thoughts on mentioning the production. It really is quite important.

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  11. Ratings... I have thought long and hard about this since I've been reviewing books. I haven't been able to come up with a system I like yet. Maybe someday.

    I love the idea of a "bottom line" statement. That's something I'll have to give a try. I often end with a recommendation statement when I do recommend, but this sounds better.

    Great thoughts! I've really enjoyed this topic.

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    1. Literate Housewife - Ratings seem to be such a touchy subject, I know. How can you rate nonfiction on the same scale as mystery, for instance? My ratings often come down to personal enjoyment, and not necessarily objective literary criteria. I've been using a 'bottom line' for a couple of years now and like the way it forces me to sum things up. Go ahead and give it a try!

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  12. You've described very well how I try to write my bookish posts. Though I admit that I don't pay much attention to the plot as I never know what might be considered a spoiler. And I do skip plot summaries when reading blogs--almost always. ;)

    One thing that I've never paid much attention to is publisher. Thinking I should do this a bit more!

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    1. Trish- Plot summaries just aren't for me either, writing or reading. I like a general idea about setting and themes but not much more.

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  13. I like ratings too! In fact I have a separate rating for the audio. :)

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    1. Juju - I think I may start adding a second rating for the audio, too. I've only done that once before.

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  14. Great suggestions, JoAnn. You are a great reviewer so I should take a few notes :) I like ratings. I do remember that last year I listened to AND read My Antonia and had two very different opinions of the book. I had to break down my rating in the review.

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    1. Thanks, Stacy... sometimes reaction to print vs. audio can be so different!

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