Since writing about my search for the perfect audiobook on Monday, I have discovered my new favorite toy at the Nashville Public Library: Playaway. I'd heard about the device, but I finally decided to give it a try.
Playaway is an audio player pre-loaded with an audiobook. You check out the entire player (mine even had a AAA battery included), plug in your earbuds and listen away. In other words, you don't have to check out the player and check out individual books—if you want five books, you check out five pre-loaded players.
It's convenient because you can move from the car (I listened with a tape adapter) to the gym to walking around town with ease. Whenever you press "Pause," the player remembers your spot and will start back up right where you left off. Plus, the thing can't weigh more than a few ounces—less than a book!—and fits easily in my purse. (I know this sounds like an infomercial, but folks, this thing is handy.)
According to the company's website, there are more than 10,000 book titles available in this format. So now I am obsessively checking to see which books on my TBR list are available on Playaway at my library branch . . .
My very unscientific research has caused me to wonder how many people know about this technology: Mockingjay in print has 60 holds at my library system (to be expected), and Mockingjay on CD has 13 holds. But Mockingjay on Playaway is available.
Do any readers of The Book Case check out Playaway audiobooks from the library?
The Audie Awards were given out last night in New York City, and the biggest prize—Audiobook of the Year—went to Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales. (Read more about this book and listen to an excerpt.)
Mandela and the 23 artists who participated in this recording must be pretty pleased to have beaten out the Bible and Patrick Swayze. We're guessing that the talented readers combined with the fact that 100% of the proceeds from the audiobook go to a nonprofit working in South Africa and the U.S. to combat HIV/AIDS and The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, convinced judges that this one deserved the prize.
On May 25, the winner of the Audio of the Year will be announced at the Audies Gala. Three finalists were chosen for their "excellence in production as well as by their ability to create new interest in the audiobook format through creative and innovative publicity and marketing." The three nominees are all worthy, but Patrick Swayze's memoir, The Time of My Life perhaps has the most poignant behind-the-scenes story. Producer Elisa Shokoff worked with Swayze on the recording during the last days of his life. Here's what she had to say about the experience.
Only a few days before Patrick's 57th birthday in late August, during what was the last month of his life, we began recording the audio version of his memoir. Although the recording became Patrick's final work, and we carried it out under the most unusual & difficult circumstances, it unfolded in the most usual way for Patrick. His well-known passion, intelligence and quest for perfection never dimmed. He was determined to finish the reading with his high standards intact. That determination informed everything we did. It was an exhilarating time.
We set up our equipment in his beloved music studio at the ranch he shared with Lisa Niemi on the edge of the Angeles National Forest in the San Fernando Valley. In the 10 x 12 studio were Patrick, sometimes Lisa, recording engineers Steven Strassman & Matt Cartsonis, two large (often sleeping & snoring) dogs--Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Kuma & Standard Poodle Lucas, and me.
Together, we would begin at dusk and work late into the night. Before, in-between and after recording, it was clear that Patrick was gravely ill and in terrible pain. But when he was actually reading, the weight of his illness seemed to lift and it was easy to forget that he was even sick. A wonderful, kind, cowboy-storyteller emerged; full of life and humor and a heightened compassion. The resulting audiobook is a testament to the great and graceful performer that he was.
Read more about audiobooks in our monthly column.