Inside the Audiobook Studio with Michael Jackson Unmasked


Something new on Audiobooker! Each Wednesday, I will have a guest member of the audiobook community stop in to answer five questions and share the nitty-gritty of what happens “Inside the Audiobook Studio.” Comments will range from the interestingly informative to the blushingly embarrassing – as in the PG-13 rated comment from narrator Richard Allen below. Today we have a team response from Tantor Audio, publisher of the instant audiobook Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson by Ian Halperin, released on July 21st. ¬†Be sure to listen to this audio clip from Unmasked so that you can imagine his vocal acrobatics described below ūüėČ

1. What’s on your MP3 player? (Jennifer Sullivan, Tantor’s Marketing and Sales Coordinator)

Little Bee by Chris Cleave, narrated by Anne Flosnik (Tantor Audio).¬†Just when you think you know where the story is going, it suddenly takes a sharp turn.¬†Anne’s narration was fantastic–with Nigerian, Jamaican, and British accents.¬† She really feels the characters–their pain, their happiness.¬†She can even personify a Batman-obsessed four year old boy.

Another recent fave was Darling Jim by Christian Moerk, narrated by Stephen Hoye and Justine Eyre (Tantor Audio).  If I were still a bookseller, this would be at the top of my hand-selling list. Gothic and psychological, the intriguing storyline makes you want to keep listening, even though the tale can be chilling in parts.

2. Tell us about your role in the audiobook community. (Richard Allen, narrator of Unmasked)

My role with audiobooks is primarily as a narrator and director. My training in theatre has come in handy as you need the capacity to speak for long periods of concentrated times, in dialects, different character voices or in giving very specific and long passages of information in an engaging and entertaining way. For me the fun part of recording books are the decisions on characters and how each one will sound in a believable and consistent way, be it children, old Russian women or thugs in the middle of a shoot-out.

3. What was your most interesting/embarrassing/hilarious moment in the audiobook studio?  (Richard Allen, narrator of Unmasked)

Early on in my recording career I got a title which had, shall we say, a LOT of s*x in it…very descriptive, very detailed.¬† Well, being the “actor,” I was determined to give the listener their money’s worth, I am in the studio just going for it.¬† Every sigh, every coo, every sizzling tantalizing moment…..until the ultimate moment arrived….and the director was laughing so hard that he fell off his chair onto the engineer who inadvertently hit a button that ERASED part of the scene I was in the process of recording.

4. What future trends or changing technologies do you think will have the greatest/worst/revolutionary impact on the audiobook production field? (Laura Colebank, Partner & John Molish, VP, Sales & Marketing )

Digital downloads¬† are the fastest growing segment, which is great because not only does it mean more titles can be made available (no shelf limitations) , but it’s also bringing younger users to the market.¬† While digital is the fastest growing segment, traditional CDs still dominate and there is a good market for MP3 CDs.

5. What’s new and exciting in your part of the audiobook community? (Laura Colebank, Partner & John Molish, VP, Sales & Marketing)

We’re really excited to be increasing our number of new releases from 30 to 40 titles this fall. As digital downloads grow, and ¬†readers are more and more pressed for time, there remains a large gap between what is available in print vs. audio, creating a strong demand for more titles and a wider variety on audio with a good mix of fiction and non-fiction. Tantor offers libraries their choice of formats: Library, retail or MP3 CD editions, downloads and Playaway.¬† And that’s important in this current climate of budget slashing because selectors can add more titles to their collections by choosing less expensive editions. In addition to the Jackson title, here a few new titles from Tantor:

  • Prelude to Dune series- back in print on unabridged audio (unabridged previously just available on cassette). Scott Brick is narrating (and was requested by the authors).
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave is getting lots of buzz – Nicole Kidman just picked up film rights.
  • Dawn Light by Diane Ackerman – book received starred review from¬† Booklist

Thanks to Tantor Audio for being my first guest on “Inside the Audiobook Studio!”



About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

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