5 August 2008

Download pre-release of Oath Breaker

Fans of The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver can listen to the new book in the series, Oath Breaker, one month ahead of the print publication, which is due to be published on 1st September. This wonderful series is brilliantly brought to life in audio by Sir Ian McKellen.

When he was outcast, Torak was the hunted one. The following spring, he becomes the hunter when he swears to avenge the killing of one of his closest friends. To fulfil his oath he must brave the hidden valleys of the Deep Forest, where the clans have reverted to the savagery of an earlier time. Here, Torak finally learns why he is the Sprit Walker and discovers the true cost of revenge.

Join the Clan at the official website or click here to download the audiobook now.

24 July 2008

Download pre-release of In The Dark

From today, Mark Billingham fans can listen to his new novel In The Dark two weeks ahead of the print publication.

This is Billingham’s first stand alone thriller and it has been hailed as a powerful ‘state of the capital’ novel. Set in London, it shows a city where violence can be random or meticulously planned, where teenage gangs clash with career criminals and where loyalty is paid for in blood. Secrets are uncovered as fast as bodies, and the story's final twist is as breathtakingly surprising as they come.

We met Mark recently for the August edition of the podcast and we found out that he actually started out in life as a comedian. He was drawn to writing thrillers after he found himself the victim of a terrifying crime whilst touring in Manchester. Interestingly, he said that comedy and crime use the same techniques since both are all about timing! You can here the interview from on the Audible.co.uk Podcast from 1st August.

15 July 2008

Download pre-release of Bright Shiny Morning

From today fans can listen to the new book by controversial author James Frey three weeks ahead of the hardback publication.

Bright Shiny Morning takes a wild ride through the ultimate metropolis of Los Angeles, where glittering excess rubs shoulders with seedy depravity. Frey's trademark prose focuses on the parallel lives of diverse characters, bringing their egos and ideas, hopes and despairs, anxieties and absurdities vividly to life.

Go here to download Bright Shiny Morning now from Audible.co.uk.

3 July 2008

Danny Wallace and Friends Like These

We love Danny Wallace and we’re going to join him! He recently came in to Audible HQ to record an interview for the Audible.co.uk Podcast. He’s a very funny man! We learned that:

  • He coughed twice whilst recording Friends Like These (and spluttered just once)
  • He loves Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith
  • He recorded a special Friends Like These quiz for the download edition of the book
  • He really likes robots

Ostensibly Danny was in the studio to tell us about his new book, Friends Like These. What’s it all about? Well, essentially it’s a book about friendship... but to find out more, watch this video:

Intrigued? To listen to the special download edition of Friends Like These, click here.

26 June 2008

The Guardian's 40 Best Audiobooks

This Saturday The Guardian will feature its 40 Best Audiobooks which it has chosen with guidance from The Book Marketing Society. The promotion aims to illustrate the wide range of audiobooks available in the UK. The list was chosen from more than 160 books which were submitted by publishers. The public will be asked to vote for the winner which will be announced on 31st July.

It’s wonderful to see audiobooks being highlighted in this way and to celebrate we’re offering all the titles that are available as downloads for £7.99 or less. We have 37 out of the 40 titles in the promotion and we’re working on clearing download rights for the remaining 3 which are:

  • The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John le Carre
  • My Completely Best Story Collection: Charlie & Lola by Lauren Child
  • Four Favourite Stories by Roald Dahl

The BBC’s recording of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is included in the promotion but unfortunately the title will not be available to download until after the promotion has ended. In the meantime we’re offering a free sample of the download which you can get here.

The good news is that as a result of this promotion we’ve been given permission to release the following audiobooks, all of which are now available to download from Audible for the first time:

Go here to see the complete list on Audible.

11 June 2008

Audible Sounds of Crime Awards Announced

The winners of the Audible Sounds of Crime Awards were announced this weekend at Bristol’s CrimeFest. The awards for the best audiobooks went to Ian Rankin and James Macpherson for the abridged recording of Exit Music and David Hewson and Saul Reichlin for the unabridged recording of The Seventh Sacrament.

It is fitting that both abridged and unabridged recordings were recognized in the awards but here at Audible we find that the majority of listeners download only unabridged recordings. David Hewson has always been popular with our listeners and he first came to our attention with The Sacred Cut. When the book first became available as a download it went straight in to the top 10, no doubt because of the fantastic feedback in the book's reviews section. Fans of David’s downloads have consistently commented on the quality of the narrator so it is apt that Saul Reichlin also receives an award. On receiving the award, David Hewson said:

"It's incredibly flattering to have my name on the first of what I'm sure will become one of the most coveted awards in crime fiction. Audio is very important to me because it's the oldest form of fiction there is. People were listening to stories before they ever started reading them, and having your work performed this way is a real test of its durability. I'm proud to see my name on the award alongside that of Saul Reichlin too, since his extraordinarily sensitive narration of my Nic Costa series is as much a part of its timbre and character by now as my writing."

Saul Reichlin, the book's narrator said:

"I am thrilled to win. It is very satisfying, as an 'industry professional' and not a 'name' to be honoured with this prestigious award. The reader is only as good as his material, of course, and I'm truly grateful to have a writer of David Hewson's brilliance to work on."

To download more from David Hewson go here.
To listen to more from Saul Reichlin go here.

6 June 2008

The Chopin Manuscript wins Audie Award

The Chopin Manuscript was recently named Audiobook of the Year at the 13th annual Audie Awards which are considered the ‘Oscars’ of the American audio industry.

Fifteen best-selling crime writers including Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child and David Hewson wrote consecutive chapters of the thriller, read by Alfred Molina, which came out in serial form last September. British contributor David Hewson said:

“It was a great honour, and an amazing amount of fun, to take part in this unique project which has, I think, helped put audiobooks firmly on the map as a vibrant and important part of the modern publishing world - and wonderful to be able to work alongside such a talented array of authors. All credit to my fellow authors, to the wonderful Alfred Molina for such incredible narration, and to Audible without whom this whole venture could never have happened in the first place. Chopin is, I think, the first of many such audio-based story-telling adventures to come.”

For the first time in the history of the Audies the winning audiobook is an audio-only story which is not available in print and is only available as a download.

You can hear the 30 minute first chapter of the book for free in Audible.co.uk Podcast 1 or download the complete story here.

2 June 2008

Skulduggery Pleasant wins Red House Children’s Book Award

Skulduggery Pleasant has just won the Red House Children’s Book Award - the only national children’s book award to be chosen exclusively by children.

Landy was working on his farm in Ireland a few years ago and writing low-budget Irish zombie movies when the character, a wise-cracking, sophisticated detective in the vein of Philip Marlowe, popped into his head.

"I just had the two words - 'Skulduggery Pleasant' - but he immediately told me who he was and what he was," said Landy. "I haven't a clue how he appeared but I'm really glad he did.”

The first book to feature Pleasant swiftly followed and was an instant hit with children around the world. The second, Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire, has just been published, with a further seven in the series planned.

The Red House Awards are now in their 28th year. This year over 165,000 votes were cast through the Federation of Children's Book Groups. The awards have a record of being the first to spot the future big names in children's writing - it was the first major award to be won by Roald Dahl (1983), Jacqueline Wilson (1996) and JK Rowling (1998).

Find out more about Skulduggery Pleasant at his website here.

28 May 2008

Bond is Back

The first seven copies of Devil May Care, the new Bond novel commissioned by Penguin Books to celebrate the Ian Fleming centenary, were brought up the river Thames yesterday aboard warship Exeter. A pair of Lynx helicopters escorted the boat on either side. The books were then taken ashore by model Tuuli Shipster (who appears on the cover of the book) on a hi-tech speedboat known as a Pacific 24.

It was a fitting launch for the latest instalment in the adventures of the world's most iconic spy.

Picking up from where Fleming left off in 1966 with The Living Daylights and Octopussy Sebastian Faulks has written the perfect continuation of the James Bond legacy. Devil May Care is set during the Cold War and features all the glamour, thrills and excitement that one would expect from any mission involving Bond... James Bond.

To visit the James Bond collection at Audible go here.

23 May 2008

Audible Sounds of Crime Award at CrimeFest

CrimeFest, a new international crime fiction convention featuring interviews, panels, a Gala Dinner, and possibly one or two surprises, takes place in Bristol next month. Many of the world’s top crime novelists such as Ian Rankin, Karin Fossum, Jeff Lindsay and David Hewson will be attending.

CrimeFest will be presenting two awards: the Last Laugh Award for best humorous crime novel, and the Audible Sounds of Crime Award for best crime audiobook. Registered delegates and Audible Listeners have nominated the crime audiobook they most liked listening to in 2007.

The shortlist is:

  • Blaze by Richard Bachman, read by Ron McLarty (unabridged)
  • Bad Luck & Trouble by Lee Child, read by Kerry Shale
  • The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen, read by Lorelei King
  • The Seventh Sacrament by David Hewson, read by Saul Reichlin (unabridged)
  • Exit Music by Ian Rankin, read by James Macpherson

The awards will be presented at the Gala Dinner on Saturday, the 7th of June and an award will be given to both the author and the reader of the winning entry.

For more information on CrimeFest visit: www.crimefest.com

20 May 2008

Vote for The Best of the Booker

The public are being asked to vote for the winner of The Best of the Booker, a one-off celebratory award to mark the 40th anniversary of the Booker Prize. The six shortlisted books, chosen from the list of 41 previous Booker Prize winners, are:

  • Pat Barker's The Ghost Road (Penguin)

  • Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda (Faber)

  • JM Coetzee's Disgrace (Vintage)

  • JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur (Phoenix)

  • Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist (Bloomsbury)
  • Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (Vintage)

The winner will be announced as part of the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre on 10 July 2008 where the winner will be awarded a custom-made trophy.

Voters have until midday on 8 July to select what they believe is the best novel to have won the prize since it was first awarded on 22 April 1969.

Of the six shortlisted titles only The Ghost Road is currently available as a download but for a list of all previous winners available to download at Audible, go here.

8 May 2008

Plain Sailing at Audible

Here at Audible we're thrilled to announce that James’s Patterson’s summer blockbuster, Sail, is available to listen to a month before the print edition of the book. Plus the unabridged edition of the book is only available as an audio download – so you wont be able to hear it anywhere else!

James Patterson really knows the ropes when it comes to thriller writing . He is one of the biggest selling authors in the world and his books have been translated into 49 different languages.

More about Sail
As Stuart Dunne waves off his wife, children and brother on a relaxing sailing holiday, all they have in mind is lying back and relaxing. But as a violent storm breaks out, an explosion causes the boat to vanish without trace and the family are lost, presumed dead. Until now. When a message in a bottle is washed up on the shore, it becomes apparent that there must have been at least one survivor. Now The race is on to rescue any survivors and to discover what really happened aboard the luxury yacht.

Click here to find out

17 April 2008

Meet the Author: Nick Hornby

Last week I attended the inaugural Meet the Author event at the iTunes store in Regent Street. Each month iTunes are inviting an author to the store to talk about their work. The interview is recorded in front of a live audience and then put up on iTunes as a podcast.

The first author to participate was one of my favourites: Nick Hornby. It was a great interview and Nick was utterly charming. It was fascinating to hear the challenges he faced in portraying the character of Sam, the teenage protagonist of his latest novel, Slam. You can listen to the interview here

Since then I’ve been listening to Slam. It is brilliantly read by Nicholas Hoult, who first came to fame by playing Marcus in the movie adaptation of About a Boy but who is more recently known for his role in Skins. It is a great reading and he really brings the character to life… almost too much as you can practically visualise him as he talks! A champion of ‘lad-lit’, this is Nick’s first novel which is aimed at teenagers. The book has been well received and I found it made engaging listening… certainly one that grown-ups can enjoy too! To download the book go here.

10 April 2008

McEwan scoops two British book awards

Ian McEwan, who was earlier overlooked by both the Costa and the Man Booker Prizes, was last night crowned the Author of the Year at the British Book Awards. His novel On Chesil Beach was also named the Book of the Year. The ceremony will be broadcast on Channel 4 this Sunday (13th April), at 4.40pm. The key winners were:

Other winners were Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook which won the biography category, Catherine O'Flynn who won Newcomer of the Year award for her novel What Was Lost and the popular fiction award went to Kim Edwards for The Memory Keeper's Daughter (Penguin).

JK Rowling was awarded an Outstanding Achievement award by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He said: "She has joined a distinguished line of British authors whose work has got the whole country reading, and whose books will be read for many years to come by successive generations."

For a full list if British Book Award nominees available to download from Audible go here.

9 April 2008

Junot Diaz wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Congratulations to Junot Diaz who has won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His ambitious novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, took him 11 years to complete.

The New York Times described the novel as “Mario Vargas Llosa meets Star Trek meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West.”

About the book:

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku: the curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim…

Go here to download the unabridged audiobook from Audible.

7 April 2008

Download The Wasp Factory for free with The Independent

Audible have teamed up with The Independent this week to give away Iain Banks’ controversial debut novel The Wasp Factory. Starting today you can get the first instalment of the unabridged audiobook for free with print edition of the newspaper. Then, each day until Friday 11 April, you will be able download the next instalment of this great cult classic.
We recently met up with Iain for the Audible.co.uk Podcast. It was a very entertaining interview not least because Banks is such an down-to-earth and affable chap. The interview focussed mainly on his latest book, Matter, but also touched upon The Wasp Factory. Destpite admitting to some concerns about 'wee great grannies' getting a shock when they listen to it, he maintains that his first novel is ‘quite a nice book’ because, he says, it has a happy ending and the truth comes out in the end. Find out for yourself with The Independent this week or, if you can't wait, download the complete novel from Audible.co.uk.

3 April 2008

A step into the future

Penguin Books, in collaboration with online media company Six to Start have undertaken an exciting new project to re-write 6 classics novels. The We Tell Stories project is an attempt to find new ways to tell stories in the age of Web 2.0.

The first title in the series is John Buchan’s pre-World War I espionage thriller The 39 Steps. The novel is given a revamp by Charles Cummings who called his homage to Buchan’s classic The 21 Steps. The interactive story is told wholly through Google Maps. Readers can click on Google’s pointer icons to progress through the story and watch the path traced by Richard Hannay as he travels from London's St. Pancras train station to Heathrow Airport and then to Edinburgh.

The story is makes for entertaining reading and it’s great to see publishers embrace digital technology in such a revolutionary way. I have to admit I’ve never actually read The 39 Steps, but now having finished The 21 Steps I’m going to go back to the original… well almost. We’ve got a unabriged audio recording of the book from the BBC, read by Robert Powell, so my next step will be to download that today!

2 April 2008

More acclaim for Mister Pip

Congratulations go to Lloyd Jones who has just won the The Kiriyama Prize for Literature.

The prize was established in 1996 to recognize outstanding books about the Pacific Rim and South Asia that encourage greater mutual understanding of and among its peoples and nations. Jones’ novel is set on the South Pacific island of Bougainville, during the island's bloody secessionist clash with Papua New Guinea in the 1990's.

As well as being chosen for Richard and Judy’s Best Read Award, Mister Pip also won the 2007 Commonwealth writers' prize and was a hotly-tipped shortlist contender for last year's Man Booker prize… but it was pipped at the post by Anne Enright’s The Gathering.

31 March 2008

Bill Bryson's Shakespeare

Karen Robinson had good things to say about Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare which she recently reviewed as The Sunday Times Audio Book of the Week. She said:

“Do we really need another book about Shakespeare? Well, probably not, but Bryson's cheerfully light touch with the results of his research (such as the notion that, had Shakespeare's father not relocated to Stratford upon Avon, he might have been known as the Bard of Snooterfield) makes this a joy to listen to. Scrupulous about finding the verifiable facts of Shakespeare's life, he spends a lot of time politely having fun with centuries of unlikely theory and baseless supposition, and truly comes alive on his subject's amazing contributions to the language we still speak. Did you know he coined, inter alia, the expression “to back a horse”? In an interview at the end of this production, Bryson is almost breathless in his enthusiasm - listen to it first if you need inspiration.”

Bill Bryson is perennially popular at Audible so we were thrilled to add a new audio programme from him to the store this month. Journeys in English is Bryson’s highly entertaining BBC Radio 4 series which is based on his best-selling book Mother Tongue. In it, he romps through the history of Britain to reveal how English became such an infuriatingly complex - but ultimately world-beating - language.

13 March 2008

Nibbies shortlists announced

The shortlists for the 2008 Galaxy British Book Awards have just been announced. The awards are also known as the Nibbies and the category winners will be revealed by Richard and Judy on April 9th at a ceremony at Grosvenor House in London.

It's a wide and varied list this year and we’re thrilled to see so many of the shortlisted books are available as audio downloads. The shortlisted titles and authors are:

Reader’s Digest Author of the Year

Tesco Biography of the Year Award

Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year Award

Waterstone’s Newcomer of the Year Award

Sainsbury’s Popular Fiction Award

Richard and Judy’s Best Read of the Year

WH Smith Children’s Book of the Year

Julie Murphy, Online Editor

12 March 2008

See The Welsh Girl on Richard & Judy today

The final episode of Richard & Judy’s book club airs today and as expected all 10 books featured this year have gone on to become instant bestsellers.

Viewers will now have the chance to vote for their favourite book from the list with the winner receiving the coveted Richard & Judy's Best Read Award at The British Book Awards on 9th April.

If, like me, you are at work on Wednesdays at 5pm and missed the Book Club programmes, you can catch the Richard & Judy interviews on the British Book Awards website.

The final book to feature on this year’s show is The Welsh Girl, the booker longlisted first novel by Peter Ho Davies. The novel is set in Wales in 1944. A German Jewish refugee is sent to interview Rudolf Hess; in Snowdonia a 17 year-old girl, the daughter of a fiercely nationalistic shepherd, dreams of the bright lights of an English city; and in a nearby POW camp, a German soldier struggles to reconcile his surrender with his sense of honour. As their lives intersect, all three will come to question where they belong and where their loyalties lie.

For a list of all the Richard & Judy Book Club choices available as downloads go here.

6 March 2008

Man Booker Prize celebrates 40 years

This year the Man Booker Prize celebrates its 40th anniversary and there will be a special one-off award which will see the public choosing which has been the most outstanding of all the Booker Prize winners. Panel judges, chaired by Victoria Glendinning will select six books for the shortlist which will then be made open to the public to make the final decision.

Victoria Glendinning said: “The Best of the Booker is a wonderful opportunity to read, or reread, some of the best literature in English of the past four decades. We are having a very good time revisiting the now-classic novels which won the Booker long ago, as well as the celebrated ones from recent years. All readers will enjoy this, and we look forward to hearing what the voters think - and which one, from our shortlist, they will judge the Best of the Booker.”

Canadian writer Yann Martel took the Man Booker Prize home in 2002 with his novel Life of Pi and is favourite to win the Best of the Booker at William Hill bookmakers with odds of 4/1.
Yann Martel said: “When I was describing to people what Pi was about they'd roll their eyes, finding it incredibly implausible.”
Previous Booker winners available as downloads at Audible are:

Shin Suzuma, Audible Work Experience

27 February 2008

Mister Pip features on Richard and Judy today

Richard and Judy's Book Club will today feature Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. This novel makes a wonderful audiobook, particularly as it contains so many references to reading stories aloud, and it is read brilliantly by Flinty Williams.

Since we last spoke about this year’s Richard and Judy list we have managed to get more of the titles in the collection.

The books on this year's list that we now have are:

We are still missing three books on the list: Notes from an Exhibition, Then We Came to the End and Random Acts of Heroic Love. Hopefully we’ll get these to Audible some time soon!

To see a list of all the Richard & Judy Book Club choices that are available to download from Audible go here.

24 February 2008

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe voted best children's book

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has been voted the best children's book of all time, according to a new survey from Booktrust. The book is available in three different formats at Audible: unabridged, abridged and dramatised.

The poll of 4,000 people was conducted by Booktrust to support its Bookstart initiative, which gives free books to children in the UK. Other favourites included Winnie the Pooh, The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Viv Bird, director of Booktrust, said: "It's wonderful to see the enduring popularity of these books which are loved by generation after generation. At Booktrust we want everyone to enjoy reading, whether it be returning to old favourites or encouraging people to try something new."

The poll also showed that four out of five parents read their children a bedtime story every night, for an average of 22 minutes a time.

It would have been interesting to find out how many children listen to audio books at bedtime as I know an increasing number of parents who read a bedtime story to their children before saying good night and then putting on an audio book which the youngsters listen to until they fall asleep.

For the complete list of children's favourites go here.

18 February 2008

Sunday Times Audio Book of the Week: Not Safe After Dark

This week’s Sunday Times Audio book of the week was Not Safe After Dark: (Volume 3) by Peter Robinson. The recording is unabridged and is read by Robert Glenister, David Shaw Parker and Lisa Kay.

“This enjoyable anthology made me regret missing volume 1 and volume 2 of the short stories by Robinson, the reliably readable creator of DCI Alan Banks, the hero of his full-length novels. There are some playful oddities here that take us a long way from Banks’s provincial English beat. Kay has fun in The Duke’s Wife, a tale of twisted eroticism in Renaissance Vienna and there is dark comedy and an extra-firm twist when a Canadian writer gets entangled with a fan. Best of all is Going Back, a satisfyingly long story that finds Banks in his family council house in Peterborough, where he confronts his feelings about his ageing parents and cocky brother, has a bittersweet encounter with his first love and sniffs out local crime.”

5 February 2008

In one ear and out the other...

A story that ran recently in the Daily Mail reported that 25% of Britons have not read a book in the past year. The same article states that a third of Britons read "challenging literature" in order to seem well-read even though they could not follow what the book was about. The survey also found that 40 per cent had lied about having read certain books "just so they could join in with the conversation".

It strikes me that these people could easily catch up with their ‘reading’ if they started listening to audiobooks.

Karen Robinson, who has been involved in reviewing The Sunday Times Audio Book of the Week for more than ten years, is of the same mind. She said:

"Audio books can make the difference between reading and not reading a book: challenging classics and serious non-fiction are the kind of titles that pile up on your bedside table but get shoved aside as a bit too much like hard work. The audio versions are more accessible, and an excellent introduction to the great authors."

But does listening to an audiobook really count as 'reading' a book? There is still some prejudice against audiobooks. In the past critics have said that the benefits of actively reading words off the page cannot be achieved by simply listening to the words.

Neil Gaiman, author of Stardust and Anansi Boys has previously considered the issue in his blog. He said:

"I don't think the experience of reading a book and the experience of hearing a book are the same. I tend to think the experience of hearing a book is often much more intimate, much more personal: you're down there in the words, unable to skip a dull-looking wodge of prose, unable to speed up or slow down… It's you and the story, the way the author meant it."

Karen Robinson agrees. “Sometimes listening to a book is better than reading it: a gifted reader can turn a book into an experience that's literary and theatrical, giving the characters a voice and tangible personality, teasing out the drama, the menace or the humour but still allowing the space for your imagination to engage, just as with the written word."

With our fast-paced modern lifestyles it is not surprising that many people don’t have time to indulge in reading. When exploring this subject The New York Times noticed that “audio books, once seen as a kind of oral CliffsNotes for reading lightweights, have seduced members of a literate but busy crowd by allowing them to read while doing something else.”

Karen Robinson agrees. She says:

"Audiobooks are a great way to use 'dead' travelling time to catch up on the latest books that suddenly everyone's talking about - big political and celebrity biographies, the Booker shortlist. Up until a few years ago, there used to be a gap between a book's publication and the appearance of the audio version, but these days many are simultaneous."

The figures were published to launch the government’s National Year of Reading campaign to encourage children to read more. However, I believe that listening can be just as good as reading in helping children to learn and develop important life skills and improve their education prospects.

Kati Nichol, audiobook reviewer for The Express, has long been a supporter of children’s audio. “Listening to a book is anything but a cop-out - research shows that children who listen to books read more books and have greater levels of comprehension."

25 January 2008

Celebrate Burns Night with a wee dram

Many people the world over will celebrate Burns Night tonight.

Being Scottish myself I normally celebrate with a Burns supper. We usually have friends round to eat haggis, tatties-an’-neeps washed down with some good old Scotch whisky. After a tipple or two we may even recite some our favourite Burns’ poems.

The first suppers were held in Ayrshire at the end of the 18th century by friends of the poet. He is now widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and his work is celebrated worldwide.

Julie Murphy, Online Editor

24 January 2008

Sue Grafton wins Cartier Diamond Dagger

The Crime Writers’ Association has awarded this year’s Cartier Diamond Dagger Award to American novelist, Sue Grafton who is well know for her Alphabet series of crime novels. The first book in the series, A is for Alibi was inspired by the author’s own divorce. She said: “For months I lay in bed and plotted to kill my ex-husband, but I knew I’d bungle it and get caught so I wrote it in a book instead.”

Sue Grafton has been writing the series which feature private investigator Kinsey Millhone for over twenty-five years. Ms Grafton plans to carry the series all the way through to Z. The latest, T is for Trespass, was published in the US in December 2007 and is available to download in the unabridged form from Audible. The print book will come out in the UK in April 2008.

Ms Grafton’s novels are published in 26 languages and in 28 countries, including Bulgarian and Indonesian although she has consistently refused to sell the film and television rights, claiming her experience as a screenwriter “cured” her of the desire to work with Hollywood.

Sue Grafton wins the Cartier Diamond Dagger in its twenty-third year. Previous winners include John Harvey, Elmore Leonard, Ian Rankin, Lawrence Block, Sara Paretsky, Colin Dexter, Ed McBain, Reginald Hill, Ellis Peters, Dick Francis, and PD James.

21 January 2008

Beat the Monday Blues

Experts have calculated that today is Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year. Triggers for Blue Monday include the weather and the arrival of the Christmas credit card bill.

Dr Cliff Arnall, a psychologist at Cardiff University’s Center for Lifelong Learning, devised the formula. His equation takes into account six factors: weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year's resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.

All is not doom and gloom though… If you are looking for a cheap and cheerful way to beat the January Blues up why not download some comedy from Audible. Research demonstrates the amazing health benefits of laughter and throughout January we’ve got some great comedy from popular comedians such as Mitchell and Webb and The Mighty Boosh for just 3.99 - guaranteed not so to do too much damage to the credit card! To see all the comedy titles at 3.99 click here.

And if you want to tackle those unresolved new year resolutions click here to download our free podcast which is full of top tips from our leading self-help experts on how to get the most out of 2008.

Julie Murphy, Online Editor

11 January 2008

Young Stalin wins Costa Biography Award

Congratulations to Simon Sebag Montefiore who recently won the Biography category of the prestigious Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Book Awards) for Young Stalin. The judges said: "This biography opens up the previously hidden secrets of Stalin's youth. An amazing story, exceptionally well told.”

Based on massive research and astonishing evidence in archives from Moscow to Georgia, Young Stalin is a chronicle of the Revolution, a pre-history of the USSR and a fascinatingly intimate biography. Simon Sebag Motefiore is also the author of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar which is a companion book and prequel to Young Stalin.

Young Stalin received rave reviews on publication and was actually one of the most reviewed books of 2007. Robert Service of The Sunday Times said: “Montefiore qualifies for the veteran-of-labour medal with his new book. The opening scene is the armed robbery: this shows the author at his best. Montefiore gives us a richly and fluently documented study of the Chief Terrorist in the making."

Each of the category winners of the Costa Book Awards receives £5,000 and the overall winner, which will be announced on 22nd January, receives a further £25,000. The other category winners were:

  • First Novel: What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn
  • Novel: Day by A.L. Kennedy
  • Poetry Award: Tilt by Jean Sprackland
  • Children's: The Bower Bird by Ann Kelley
Last year’s overall winner was The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney. To see video interviews with all of last year’s category winners go here.

To listen to more books previously nominated for the Costa Book Awards go here.

9 January 2008

7th Heaven available exclusively as a download

Did you know that James Patterson has sold more books than John Grisham and Dan Brown combined? His work has been translated into 49 different languages and over 130 million copies of his books have been sold across the globe.

Patterson is well known as the creator of the Alex Cross series from which Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider were made into Hollywood film adaptations. The latest of Patterson’s work be adapted to the screen is the Women’s Murder Club series. A new one-hour drama serial is currently getting rave reviews in the States. The programmes feature four successful working women in San Francisco who use their expertise, their close friendship and their instincts to solve murder cases. Find out more about the TV series, due in the UK in 2008, here.

But if you can’t wait for that, why not listen to the audiobooks now. We are very excited here at Audible to have the latest Women’s Murder Club book, 7th Heaven, available to listen to before the hardback publication on 14th January. The book, which was recently featured as The Sunday Times Audiobook of the Week is available to listen to in both abridged and unabridged formats, but the unabridged audiobook is only available as a download. As we mentioned before in this blog, it can be very costly to produce lots of CDs for an unabridged audiobook, so many audio publishers are now using the favourable long tail economics of the web to publish lengthy titles only as downloads.

The Women’s Murder Club series features detective Lindsay Boxer and the latest instalment, read by Carolyn McCormick, is a great listen. Book 6 in the series The 6th Target is also available from Audible.

Julie Murphy, Online Editor

2 January 2008

Richard and Judy's Book Club

Richard & Judy have announced the ten books that will appear on this year’s book club. Publishers can now look forward to ‘the Richard and Judy effect’ as they know that those authors who are included in this list will go on to become overnight bestsellers. Novels that have benefited in previous years include Audrey Niffenegger's The Time-Traveler's Wife and Kate Mosse's Labyrinth.

The books on this year's list are:
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
  • Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
  • Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann
  • The Rose of Sebastopol by Katherine McMahon
  • A Quiet Belief in Angels by R J Ellroy
  • Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale
  • The Visible World by Mark Slouka
  • Blood River by Tim Butcher
  • The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

Two of the books on this year’s list are already available as audio downloads: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, also set in Afghanistan; and Lloyd Jones's Mister Pip, which was shortlisted for 2007's Man Booker prize, and won the Commonwealth Writers' book of the year award. We will be working hard over the next few weeks to bring the rest of this list to Audible.

The first episode of 2008's Book Club will be shown on 9th January. Viewers then vote for their favourite book and the winner earns the title of Richard and Judy's Best Read at the Galaxy British Book Awards in April.

To see a list of all the Richard & Judy books that are available to download from Audible go here.