The Top Audiobooks Stories of 2009

By Jason Boog Comment

Susan23.jpg.jpgTo find out more about the year’s biggest audiobook stories, GalleyCat caught up with self-identified audiobook fanatic Susan Dunman (pictured)–host of the website Audiobook DJ. She assembled an excellent list of the top audiobook stories of 2009, complete with commentary–reflecting on a year of digital innovations and controversies.

Audiobook question of the year:
“What exactly is an audiobook? Controversy erupted over the text-to-speech function of the Kindle 2 when the Authors Guild claimed it was a violation of copyright for the device to read e-text aloud. As a compromise, Amazon said it would allow authors and publishers to decide whether to enable the function on a per-title basis.”

Digital downloads-only debate:
“More publishers are offering titles only as digital downloads– there are no equivalent physical CDs to purchase. While this may help publishers defray costs and publish more titles in audio, it has serious ramifications for brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries. Some publishers do make CDs available to libraries for titles that are offered as ‘download only’ in the retail market, but in many cases, if a physical copy of an audiobook is not available, then it does not ‘exist’ for customers/patrons without computers or broadband access.

Tweeting an audiobook:
BBC Audiobooks America embarked on an experiment using Twitter to create an audiobook. Written entirely from a compilation of individual, 140 character tweets, ‘Hearts, Keys, and Puppetry’ was crafted with 875 tweets from 124 contributors in 6 countries writing 14,385 words. Read by award-winning narrator Katherine Kellgren, the project brought audiobooks to the attention of a broad audience in a unique and imaginative way. The audiobook can be downloaded for free at this link.

America’s top audiobooks:
“Each year the Audio Publishers Association sponsors the Audies, the premier awards program in the US recognizing distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment. In addition to ‘Audiobook of the Year,’ another top award added this year was ‘Distinguished Achievement in Production.’ ‘The Graveyard Book,’ written and read by Neil Gaiman, won Audiobook of the Year, while production accolades were awarded to ‘Curse of the Blue Tattoo: A Bloody Jack Adventure,’ by L.A. Meyer, read by Katherine Kellgren. Here’s a listing of all finalists and winners.”

DRM debate:
A champion of DRM-free distribution, Cory Doctorow ran into unexpected obstacles when he tried to distribute the audio version of his new book, Makers, through Audible and iTunes. For various reasons, these two companies could not agree to remove all digital rights management obstacles. The audiobook is available as a digital download
through eMusic,,, and

GalleyCat has vowed to ramp up our new audiobook coverage in the new year. Follow all the action in our audiobooks tab, and email us your audiobooks news.