By November 4, 2009 5 Comments Read More →

Inside the Audiobook Studio: Michele Cobb

BBC Audiobooks America‘s Twitter collaboration with Neil Gaiman generated plenty of audiobook buzz recently – if you haven’t heard about the project, here’s an intro from the BBCA blog (read the rest on the blog) :

Our crowd-sourced saga has concluded! The Twitterverse (with the assistance of New York Times Bestselling Author Neil Gaiman) has created a rollicking, epic fairytale, set in a fantasy world, with an endearing coming-of-age story at its heart.  Here’s a brief summary of the eight-day-long story event. Stay tuned to this space for more updates and developments as we take our story through the editing and production stages of making an audiobook! First line: Sam was brushing her hair when the girl in the mirror put down the hairbrush, smiled & said, “We don’t love you anymore.”

Today, I have BBC Audiobook America’s Marketing Director Michele Cobb as this week’s Inside the Audiobook Studio guest – and Michele starts off her visit with a scoop for us. Narrator Katherine Kellgren has been chosen as the voice of the world’s first AudioTwitterBook – or is that TwitterAudioBook? Ok, Michele, it’s time for the five questions:

1. What’s on your MP3 player?

I admit I’m still a big CD/MP3CD fan as I primarily listen in my car. Currently, I’m wrapped up in Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs. Literary fiction lends itself to audio well for me. I can really get into the characters and prose. Whenever I hit a particularly dense passage I go back to the beginning of the track and savor the words by hearing them again. As an auditory learner I retain much more when I listen and adore coming into contact with books in this way. Stairs has me longing to get back in the car. Mia Barron does a wonderful job of bringing to life the main character. She’s keeping me engaged in the story and interpreting the words without getting in the way of them, which I always appreciate in a narrator.  This is the type of audiobook that, regardless of where the plot goes, I don’t want to end because I’m enjoying the experience so much. When I’m not in the car my listening is usually a Live Oak Readalong with my daughter who is almost two. Currently we are hitting repeat on Mole Music and Snow.

2. Tell us about your role in the audiobook community.

I work on the marketing side of things – it starts early on in the cycle – providing feedback of which titles might make good additions to the list (and I take suggestions from librarian’s on this all the time), creating materials to help BBC Audiobooks America get the word out about our titles, working with libraries on collection development and reaching out to consumers directly. My department is also responsible for a wide variety of projects – including Behind the Microphone Narrator/Author Events at libraries and our Twitter Audiobook with Neil Gaiman. Check  out – or friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

3. What was your most interesting/embarrassing/hilarious moment in the audiobook studio?

A number of years ago I took a group of our salespeople to hear a title being recorded at Cedar House Audio in Seattle. This was more of an almost embarrassing moment that luckily, was avoided  – the title being recorded was romantic suspense that had some steamy love scenes. We joined the recording not too long before a compromising situation was about to be reached. As luck would have it the narrator didn’t quite reach the really heated portion before we had to leave, but it would have been awkward to have all of these people starring into the recording booth at the narrator as she got to that part.

4. What future trends or changing technologies do you think will have the greatest/worst/revolutionary impact on the audiobook production field?

The digital trend is certainly one that is exciting and opens up a lot of possibilities for original works and multi-media projects (and hopefully exposes a lot more people to audio publishing). But the publishing world is going through a lot of upheaval at the moment and new business models have yet to fully emerge –  how companies can reach a significantly higher number of consumers and continue to create a quality product in a digital world where the price points are so much lower than the world of hard goods – remains to be seen.

5. What’s new and exciting in your part of the audiobook community?

The big news for BBC Audiobooks America recently has been the success of our Twitter Audiobook Project with Neil Gaiman. The story unfolded beautifully and we’re lucky to have a fabulous editor, Tara, who worked with the thousands of tweets that came in to craft a great story that we look forward to recording soon. From the radio drama world we’re also excited to have some fantastic Doctor Who radio dramas – Hornet’s Nest – five new tales starring Tom Baker as the Doctor with Richard Franklin as Mike Yates. These television tie-in titles join the Torchwood Original Radio Adventures that launched in 2009 and star the cast of that series. Plus, I really enjoy getting out to visit libraries with author & narrators. Watch this video of Paul Tremblay, author of The Little Sleep and audiobook narrator Stephen R. Thorne at an OverDrive Digimobile event in Rhode Island recently. It was really fun to see them interact – it wasn’t captured on the video, but I especially liked it when Paul said he had to stop listening to the audio when he did his author tour because he kept hearing Stephen in his head whenever he tried to read.

Thanks so much for being here for the interview, Michele! I am always amazed at the innovative ways that BBCAA connects with audiobook listeners – from last summer’s Facebook Audiobook Club to the Twitterverse. Can’t wait to see the new Twitter project you’ve got planned for early in 2010. Hope we hear about it first here on Audiobooker 😉



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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