On this dynamic modern medium and how Simenon is riding the wave
SIMENON SIMENON. L’ECRIVAIN AURAIT-IL PU MEME IMAGINER UN LIVRE AUDIO ?
A propos de ce dynamique moyen moderne et comment Simenon surfe sur la vague
SIMENON SIMENON. LO SCRITTORE AVREBBE MAI POTUTO PENSARE A UN "AUDIO BOOK?
In merito alle dinamiche di questi moderni media e di come i Simenon calvalchino l'onda.
Thinking I had to hold a book in my hand to enjoy reading it, I avoided e-books for a long time. However, the ability to quickly and thoroughly search e-books made them an attractive option. That resulting positive experience suggests avoiding audiobooks might also be a mistake. I’ve never listened to one, primarily because I fear the distraction of listening while driving, apparently a favorite way to enjoy them.
A look at the status of audiobooks in the USA is revealing: they are the fastest growing segment in the digital publishing industry with 2017 being another year of double-digit growth for both title output and sales. The most recent figures (from the first eight months of 2017) show a 20% increase in sales. In contrast, print books rose just 1.5% and e-books actually dropped 5.4%.
The USA happens to be the biggest market worldwide. It seems 44% of Americans have listened to an audiobook at least one time and 26% of the US population has listened to an audiobook in the last 12 months. Yet, one analysis found that the American audience is not expanding, indicating that the number of audiobooks each enthusiast listens to is what is going up. Strikingly, not only are 48% of all listeners under the age of 35, but also this group has listened to an average of 15 books in the past year. Do not despair; they are also consistent readers in all formats. A more threatening observation is that “Audiobooks are becoming so popular that publishers are skipping the book entirely and initiating straight to audio production.” In terms of genre, mysteries/thrillers/suspense are among the most popular audiobooks—undoubtedly helping to enlarge the Simenon fandom. His simple prose lends itself to speech. Oddly, our ‘keep quiet’ libraries are major drivers for ‘listen to’ books.
An important goal of this presentation is to inform about the available spoken English audiobooks of Simenon works. A few years ago, Penguin undertook an ambitious program of publishing Simenon newly translated into English. It is fulfilling its objective impressively, and proof of this is apparent in the listing of what the world’s largest audiobook store (Audible.com, an arm of Amazon.com) currently offers:
Of the 58 Penguin ‘modern’ print versions of the Maigret novels so far published, there are 52 audiobooks available right now. The translators vary; the narrator is always Gareth Armstrong. The productions run in the 3 and ½ hour range.
There are five Maigret dramatizations by the BBC, all released in 2011. They offer four stories each, lasting three hours in total. Two feature the voice of Nicholas Le Prevost as Maigret, and three, Maurice Denham.
There is one lengthy (3 hour 39 minute) collection of five Maigret cases from BBC Radio in 1976, but reassuringly it is a 2017 release.
Of the countless romans durs, Penguin has so far published 10 ‘modern’ print versions, and six audio versions of them are available.
From Simenon’s numerous dictées, the autobiographical When I Was Old is available. It is a challenging 12 hours and 27 minutes long.
Listen and enjoy!
David P Simmons
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