Alice? There’s an App for that!

Audiobook apps are a reality – check out Blackstone’s awesome iTunes collection of titles created using the Folium enhancedAudio engine, developed by Folium Partners. The first batch of titles includes Alice in Wonderland, read by Michael York – a perfect tie-in to the movie release! Try out the look & feel of the incredible app interface in this Blackstone Audio demo. Intuitive playback control? Check! Enhanced content such as author bios, reader guides, triva, & more? Check! Scrolling slide show of artwork or photo illustrations synced to text? Check!

Is the enhancedAudio engine the Holy Grail of one-click download audiobook ease I’ve been looking for? I predict that this audiobook app will be a major, major innovation in audiobook publishing and distribution. But I won’t know until I have a report from an iPhone or iTouch test subject – any volunteers out there willing to report in the comments? I hope that Folium (or a crafty competitor) has development of Android, Windows Mobile & BlackBerry apps on the fast track so that those of us with non-Apple devices can share in the one-click app awesomeness. This list of Alice app features will make any audiobook addict start drooling!

• EXPERIENCE. About three hours of narration. Created as a Folium enhancedAudio™ edition, this book is packed with extra functions and features not found on lesser players. Easily skip back to rehear a missed bit, or zip through the chapters at lightning speed.

• SLEEP TIMER. Have you ever fallen asleep watching TV or listening to a book? If so, you’ll love this feature. Once set—if you fall asleep—the book will stop, place a bookmark, and allow you to jump back to where you probably began dozing.

• CLEAR & ELEGANT DESIGN. Simple, clean, intuitive, and smarter than average.

• CHAPTER TIMINGS. Always know how much time it will take to finish a chapter. Plus, the progress bar at the top of the screen shows how far into the book you’ve come.

• OFFLINE LISTENING. This app is airplane-ready. Once downloaded, you can listen uninterrupted, with no threat from a lost network connection. Downloads are usually just 5-10 minutes, but depend upon network speeds.

• AUTO-BOOKMARKING. The player remembers where you stopped listening and returns to that exact spot when you open the book again.

• PLAYER CONTROLS. Includes listen (play), pause, multi-speed fast forward/rewind, jump a bit ahead/back, chapter skip, volume control, and chapter/bookmark browser. There is also a “scrub” bar that moves you to any point inside the chapter with just a tap.

• TELL-A-FRIEND. An easy way to recommend the book to your friends or Twitter feed.

• FEEDBACK. Share your ideas for additional books, and see them become reality. We are very responsive to our listeners and appreciate all feedback and ideas.



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.

5 Comments on "Alice? There’s an App for that!"

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  1.' Bethany says:

    I app’d that! It’s the Michael York recording, with his smooth voice and layers of laid-back humor. He’s not as much of a character as someone like Jim Dale, so that makes it all the more listenable in my book. (No pun intended. Maybe.)

    The features feel light to me. Some things I really like are the way chapter bookmarks are handled and the ability to send a notice to friends from within the app. I sent two and they both arrived without a bunch of extra advertising traps, which isn’t the case with all app developers.

    The sleep timer was at the top of my “gotta see it” list, but it turned out I never used it. I never drifted off while listening! The book was too well narrated. Oh, well. Maybe if I get download “War and Peace” or something.

    I forgot to rate it, but if I did, I’d give this app 4-star rating. Why didn’t Blackstone include any illustrations or more info like they did for the Huck Finn app, I don’t know. I read about that one on a Mark Twain blog and got it before they dropped the price (boo-hoo) and think that it is truly the future of audiobooks.

    So come on, Blackstone Audio! Miss Alice is wanting some attention for her app!

  2. Mary Burkey says:

    Wow, Bethany, thanks for the very complete review of the app. Looks, or should I say sounds, like a winner! Just hope that Android development happens soon.

  3.' Melanie says:

    I too app’d Blackstone audio, The Hound of Baskerville. I have some other audiobooks on my iPhone but they are a little harder to access-from time to time some of the chapters are mixed up in the download and I have to “fix” them in my itunes as a playlist. This happened with a download of The Hunger Games. Some of the later chapters were mixed up…ugh!
    I LOVE the audiobook app and plan to purchase others especially those at the $3.99-$6.99 price. I agree with Bethany that this is the future of audiobooks…so easy and seamless to download and use not to mention wonderful narration. I hope Blackstone adds to their app titles soon!

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