Tag: michelle obama

Audiobooks Sales Rise While Books Sales Fall

While physical books might be going out of style, audiobook sales are on the up and up.

 

Audiobook

Image Via The Creative Penn

 

Within the last year Barnes and Nobles was sold, there’s been news here and there about independent book stores struggling like never before, and the debate about whether or not physical books are out style raging on, audiobooks are on the up and up.

 

 

Previously The Daily Beast wrote that “while only 24 percent of Americans say they listened to at least one audio book in 2016, the average listener in that category consumed fifteen books in that same period, mostly on a smartphone.”

This year The Publisher’s Association, which collects and reports on data shared by many publishers across the country, released the 2018 year-end results.

All in all, estimated publisher revenue for downloaded audio increased 28.7% over 2017, meaning that, when it comes to audiobooks, publisher’s revenues grew 181.8% from 2014 to 2018. This is important, considering that audiobooks make up an estimated of 13.7% of publishers’ online sales.

What these numbers mean is that audiobook sales have an estimated worth of a whopping £69 million ($87.44 million).

Physical books, on the other hand, are down by 5%.

Considering the culture of audiobooks, and by extension book culture as a whole, these numbers all of that surprising. Step back, and think what could be the top selling audiobook…

 

It’s Michelle Obama’s Becoming.

 

Michelle Obama's 'Becoming'

Image Via Amazon

Not only did she write the book, but she’s the voice that makes the audiobook, well, into an audiobook.

This isn’t all that surprising. If you want know the story, then why not have the author themselves tell you the story? And Michele Obama must have something to say, being a former US First Lady and mother of two, so why not have her tell you her story complete with the emotion and cadence that can be missed if you skim across the black words on a bone white page.

It’s oral tradition right there on your phone/tablet/desktop that can be played, rewound, or fast-forwarded at your time and convenience.

 

John Grisham's 'The Rooster Bar'

Image Via John Grisham.com

 

Other big sellers were Joe Wicks’s The Fat-Loss Plan: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes with Workouts, Michael Wolff’s White House exposé Fire and Fury and John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar.

 

Stephen Lotinga

Image Via Twitter

BBC News  quotes Publishers Association chief executive Stephen Lotinga as saying that…

Audiobooks have grown phenomenally, as ever-increasing numbers of people opt to enjoy books in a way that suits new technologies and keeps pace with our busy lives.

 

 

Really? Consider this: Listening to audiobooks have less to do with having time reading a book. When reading a novel yourself, you can control how fast you read per word. The phrase ‘You can read’ can be read however faster or slowly you wish, and you can speed up between every other syllable.

So if when listening to an audiobook the speed of the speaker might have some external controls, but the control technology gives you is not as intricate of the control you have over yourself, then why listen to audiobooks if you can read much faster?

Because I can’t read a book and run on a treadmill at the same time. Because books take up valuable space in my backpack. Because I can play an audiobook in my car while I drive instead of reading and driving.

Roger Packer notes that, when polled, audiobook listeners revealed that they listened rather then read the book because “hey can do other things while listening (81%), They can listen wherever they are (80%); and Audiobooks are portable (75%)”.

The Guardian also notes that, “Lotinga said the rise in the popularity of podcasts, with the music streaming giant Spotify spending up to $500m this year buying podcast companies to tap the boom, was indirectly helping the book market.”

The same reason are moving away from CDs to streaming is the same reason why, despite the hits, UK’s took that surprise 5.4% decline.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via The Irish Times

These 5 Autobiographies Narrated by the Author are Perfect for the Beach!

When I think of summer reads, I think of the typical “chick-lit” with the hunky love interest and over-the-top romance. What I always forget about are the many other genres that are perfect to take off to the beach to read or even listen to while I quickly burn to a crisp. Over the last two years, autobiography has become one of my favorite genres, and I love listening to them – especially when they’re narrated by the authors. So here is my list of those perfect, inspiring autobiographies you need to be adding to your Audible or Libro.fm wishlist for summer.

 

1. Life Will Be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler

 

Life Will Be the Death of Me advertisement

image via DPAC

 

If you’re a lover of Chelsea, you know her previous books have been all about how much of a hot mess her life is. They are jam packed with jokes, horror stories, and the occasional (frequent) hook-up. Her entire persona has been built up around her propensity to drink and get high and laid. I would love to say this book paints Chelsea as having it more together, but the truth is it highlights how much she doesn’t have it together… how much none of us really have it together. If you read the book, you do get to see all of the pictures of her dogs, friends, and family, but her narration adds another layer to the story she is telling in this book. Her voice cracks, you can hear her smile, and you get that authentic note of sarcasm in her tone that you may just miss in the book. If you’re wary, don’t be! The audio is under six hours, and it is all jam-packed with emotions. Warning: have some tissues ready, as you will unexpectedly be going to therapy with her.

 

2. Becoming by Michelle Obama

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama Advertisement Poster

image via capital one arena

 

Let’s face it: when we saw Michelle Obama as First Lady, she was never anything other than elegant and graceful. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering where her story starts, look no further! In her book, she recounts the major events in her life from growing up in a working class African American household in Chicago, to heading off to Harvard Law School, and eventually taking up residence at the most popular address in all of these United States. Through the narration, one thing remains certain: Michelle Obama maintains that same elegance and grace we came to love. She comes off so down to earth and at the same time you can tell she doesn’t take any crap. I absolutely adored reading about her adventures as daughter, student, wife, mother, and eventually First Lady. She even touches on returning to “normal” life once their stay at the White House was over. If you want a little insight as to what goes on behind closed doors at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, this book is perfect for that, too!

 

3. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham

 

Talking as Fast as I Can Audiobook Cover

image via amazon

 

In 2000, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel took us by storm as the mother-daughter-duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. But just how did Lauren Graham find her way to that fateful day? Well, you can find out by picking up this book! In this book, Lauren recounts all of her tales from trying to make it as an actress in New York City, to struggling as an actress in New York City, to finally landing Gilmore Girls, to life after the show, and, finally, returning to Stars Hollow one last (maybe) time. As Lauren would say here, the ending of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life does end on a cliffhanger. If you aren’t a fan of Gilmore Girls, you can still find a lot of value in this book. She has advice for writers, advice for not dieting, and advice on what the appropriate tip is for when someone returns your backpack full of cocaine completely intact. Her reflections on her early acting career are amazing, and aspiring actors and actresses will definitely find this part of the story helpful. If you’re struggling to keep your current written project active (and struggling with finding that time to do so), she will guide you on how to do that exactly. In this book, Lauren proves how well she has taken on the mothering persona of Lorelai, giving us all the motherly advice we need wedged into the four and half hours of this audiobook! Fans of Gilmore Girls, you may even forget it isn’t Lorelai narrating this story. You should beware: there are some spoilers for Gilmore GIrls: A Year in the Life if you haven’t watched that yet.

 

4. It Takes Balls: Dating Single Moms and other Confessions from an Unprepared Single Dad by Josh Wolf

 

It Takes Balls book cover image

image via goodreads

 

Josh Wolf is a devout Patriots fan, but we won’t hold that against him as he recounts the funniest, most embarrassing tales of single fatherhood. We talk so much about single moms, who always seem to have it much more together than they should, but Josh makes it clear single dads are sometimes hanging on by a thread. He works his way through the early days, trying to find sitters so he can go on dates, to trying to find any kind of job so he can feed his children, even running an underground sandwich shop out of his kitchen! If you’re looking for a laugh, you have come to the right book. Josh Wolf is sure to keep you in stitches as he recounts a slew of stories in which each one is more hilarious than the last.

 

5. Has Anyone Seen My Pants? by Sarah Colonna

 

Has Anyone Seen My Pants? Advertisement Poster

image via sarah colonna

 

Another comedian, another fantastic audiobook! Sarah Colonna is hilarious, and you may remember her from her time on Chelsea Lately as a reoccurring comedian on the roundtable. In this book, she not only talks about some of the hook-ups that have gone south, but she also touches on all of the things in her single life before finding love in a Seattle Seahawks kicker, Jon Ryan. When she penned the book, she wasn’t trying to make anyone feel bad about being single or not finding love on the timetable that is given to us. Instead, she was trying to get the world to understand that it is okay to be single and ask for a table for one. She didn’t know that by the end of her book it would happen for her. The truth is no one ever knows what is going to happen; things just need time to happen. But don’t fret! Sarah will keep you laughing and crying all the way to end. Reading her memoir blew me away! Let it take you away for a few hours, too.

featured image via electric literature

Sally Rooney’s ‘Normal People’ Wins Book of the Year at British Book Awards

On Monday evening Sally Rooney, the much-lauded twenty-eight-year-old Irish writer, won the Book of the Year at the British Book Awards, also known as the Nibbies, for her second novel Normal People.

Normal People follows the relationship between two teenagers, Connell and Marianne, who attend the same secondary school. Connell is handsome and popular while Marianne is a regular loner, but both see beauty in the other. The novel twists and turns as the pair go off to Trinity College during which time Marianne becomes popular while this time it is Connell who struggles to fit in.

 

Sally Rooney and the cover of "Normal People"

Image Via The Independent

 

The novel achieves “that rare thing, a sublime work of literary fiction that exquisitely renders a universal experience: being young, finding love, friendship and, ultimately, a sense of self,” said Brett Wolstencroft, manager of Daunt books and judge according to The Guardian.

 

Sally Rooney

Image Via The Irish Times

This award is the novel’s third prize. Previously, Normal People was voted as the 2018 Waterstones’ Book of the Year  and won ‘Best Novel” at the 2018 Costa Book Awards.

The novel was also long-listed for the Women’s Prize for fiction, however the competition was stiffer this time around, given that Michelle Obama’s Becoming was also nominated!

 

Michelle Obama's "Becoming"

Image Via Goodreads

Becoming, published in November 12th, 2018, broke record sales in a stellar fifteen days and was an Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection.

There seemed to be no stopping Becoming. It beat out Michael Wolff’s White House expose Fire and Fury in the non-fiction sections and its audiobook, read by Obama herself and on track to be “already the best-selling audiobook of all time” according to the BBC, beat out Ben Whishaw’s telling of Stephen Hawking’s final book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions.

However, in the end, the Book of the Year prize went to Rooney. Alice O’Keeffe, books editor of The Bookseller and chair of this years judges, commented that the book “was unanimously praised by our Book of the Year judges. It really is an exceptional novel from one of the most exciting young writers we have.”

The other three judges joined O’Keeffe in her praises.

Judge Stig Abell, editor of the TLS said, “Sally Rooney may well be on her way to becoming the major literary figure of our time…”

Brett Woolstencroft, manager at Daunt Books, said the book was “a phenomenon”.

According to Bea Carvalho, fiction buyer at Waterstones, who judged the Fiction Book of the Year award also won by Rooney,  Normal People “is that rare gift of a novel which can be enjoyed by readers of all tastes”.

 

Sally Rooney

Image Via The Independent

 

Sally Rooney stayed humble, despite her enormous success, saying, “…I do feel astonishingly lucky.”

 

Featured Image Via Mountains to Sea

Obamas, Netflix to Produce Frederick Douglass Adaptation

Want to Netflix and chill? Make sure you leave room for the Obamas.

Netflix announced last year that Michelle and Barack Obama had entered into a multi-year agreement with the media giant, and they planned to release several substantial fiction and nonfiction films and series under the name Higher Ground Productions, the Obamas’ production company. Since the announcement, details on the actual content the Obamas are working on have been sparse, aside from Netflix’s promise that the freshman production duo will be producing entertainment for an international audience.

Michelle and Barack Obama released plans yesterday to work on a feature-length biopic called Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom in collaboration with Netflix over the next few years. This adaptation will be based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel of the same name by American history professor and academic David W. Blight.

 

 

 

Frederick Douglass is only one project in the apple of the Obamas’ production company’s eye, however. Higher Ground Productions was founded by the Obamas last year as part of their partnership with Netflix. The couple will apparently focus their efforts on personalities and topics that are off interest to them.

For a more complete list of upcoming projects from the Obamas, click here.

Public statements from the Obamas reveal that they do not take this venture into the media industry lightly. Even if the turn from politics to media streaming services seems counter-productive, Michelle argues that two people who have such an immense following as herself and Barack should feel obligated to use their social standing as an opportunity to tell meaningful stories. In the same statement from Netflix last year, Michelle said:

“Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others. Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”

 

 

Featured image via Obamalibrary.gov.