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Inside the Audiobook Studio: Lend Your Voice

We were off to the Land of Oz at ALA Annual, thanks to the wizardry of Random House Audio & OverDrive Media. Readers young and old, famous and not so much, took part in the community-sourced recording of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – watch the video to see the recording in action. Or check out the Flickr collection of photos here. Keir Graff shared his experience sharing the mic with Cory Doctorow (and 299 others) on this Likely Stories post. It’s almost time for the curtain to be pulled from the finished recording, so I’ve asked Random House’s Katherine Fleming to stop by and fill us in on the project. So, Katherine…

What’s on your MP3 player?

I’ve been listening to clips from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—I can’t believe how great all our volunteer narrators sound!

Tell us about your role in the audiobook community.

My usual job is in publicity at Random House Audio/Listening Library, but for Lend Your Voice I put on my producer hat for the weekend and ran the recording in addition to getting the word out about the project—I have to say, it was fun being “in the studio” with all the participants.  We all had a great time laughing at the outtakes and meeting our favorite authors throughout the whole process.

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

I loved hearing everyone’s fantastic character voices—all the readers got really into it!  We had some great voices. I must say having Audiobooker stop into the studio was a highlight of the event – just listen to Mary Burkey reading page 220.

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

Lend Your Voice was a really unique project—we’re not aware that anything like it has been done before.  We ended up with 301 total narrators for the audiobook!  We at Random House/Listening Library wanted to get out there and connect with our listeners and have them participate in a recording themselves to see what it is like in the studio.  We decided to release it as a digital exclusive to draw some extra attention to downloadable audiobooks, they really are great to take on the go and many people haven’t tried them (Did you know many libraries also offer digital audiobooks? check with your local library!).

The recording was a resounding success, featuring voices from Lillian Imhoff, age 6 (the youngest participant) to narrators from Canada, England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Argentina and South Africa, to Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me).Many authors attending ALA took time out of their busy schedules to lend their voices, including Ken Burns, Christopher Paul Curtis, Julia Alvarez, Libba Bray, Holly Black, Cory Doctorow, Dennis Lehane, Jon Scieszka, Michele Norris, Grace Lin, and Roy Blount, Jr., just to name a few.

OverDrive and First Book were incredible partners for the event—OverDrive graciously lent us some space inside their beautiful Digital Bookmobile and First Book is hosting the download, which will be online at August 25th for a small suggested donation.  All the proceeds will go directly to First Book to support their efforts providing books for underprivileged kids and schools.  Random House Audio will also be donating 5,000 audiobooks to First Book as part of the project.

Wow, Katherine, what a great project. I’m thrilled that First Book will be receiving so many audiobooks for kids – a perfect back-to-school gift! I’ll pass along the direct download link to readers in a few days. Thanks for being my guest – and for masterminding the recording of Lend Your Voice! Oh – and I hope you don’t mind my little edit  about your interesting moment…



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.

1 Comment on "Inside the Audiobook Studio: Lend Your Voice"

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  1. Information about the Lend Your Voice Wizard of Oz project can be found at

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