Showtime’s Homeland Offers Extended Plot Lines on Audible

20131013-223057.jpg

Damian Lewis

Showtime’s Homeland is about to change TV watching forever. For the first time ever, an actor, Damian Lewis, who plays Nicholas Brody, will be recording complementary material related to major plot lines that will only be available on Audible.com.

That means directly after tonight’s episode (Sunday, October 13), fans can hear a free 30-minute extended story performed by Damian Lewis. There is a lot of speculation as to what he may talk about. My sources say most of the recording will give further insight into his mysterious character.

This development is unbelievable news for everyone who loves watching TV. So many times I feel a character has not been developed enough in an hour dedicated to complex story lines. Audiences can go away frustrated and confused.

I am hoping these supplemental audios really turn out to be a true value added rather than some commercial enterprise. 20th Century Fox has teamed up with Audible.com on this new venture. No one is saying who approached whom with this idea, but other Homeland characters are said to be preparing more audio segments.

Watch for other shows as well to copy this idea. In my book, that is good news both for audiences like me and for Audible. I have been telling you all to listen to books on Audible.com for over a year. More and more people will become familiar with Audible if they take advantage of this offer. That has to be a big sales generator for the audio book app, which is owned by Amazon.

Read, Listen, Read, Listen, Read, Listen, Done!

20130729-225955.jpg

Sometimes I feel like I have a keen intuition. Maybe we all have it, and I just exercise my sixth sense more than others. It mostly applies to technology. I use certain gadgets or software more than others. All of a sudden I find myself saying, “This device is wonderful but wouldn’t it be great if it had this blah-blah feature?”

Within a year or two, the bonus feature I was hoping for magically appears. Just like that. It’s as if someone up there is listening to me. It’s happened to me a number of times, but today was a biggie.

Maybe you already know about this, but I didn’t. For years I have been a member of Audible, a service that allows me to listen to books on my mobile devices. Amazon bought Audible a few years ago.

For the last year or two, I have been buying the Audible version of what I want to listen to in addition to the print edition. Call it indulgence, but I like to go back and forth from the audio to the written word and then back again. It all depends on my mood or what I am doing: the treadmill, the couch, the shower, the bed.

Lately, I have this sense of urgency to get as many books done as quickly as possible because my “to read” list is getting longer and longer. I don’t want to waste time with one format. I want to listen to the book on airplanes, when I exercise, in the bath, in the car, and when I wait for an appointment. After I listen to the book for an hour, I yearn for print. So I go back and forth.

The trouble is finding my last place in print when I leave the audio book. I can spend ten minutes looking for it in the book or on Kindle. Audible now has a feature called Whispersync for Voice. It syncs audiobooks both among devices and with Kindle e-books, whether they are on your Kindle device or Apple and Android Kindle apps. Users can now easily switch between the Audible and Kindle versions of select books without losing their place.

When users buy the Kindle version of a book, they receive a discount on the Audible version. Soon we will be able to buy a bundle of the two. Until then, this is a very exciting development in multi-media reading.

20130729-225944.jpg

THE DOUBLE LIFE OF AN AUDIO BOOK JUNKIE

Living the life of a person who listens to audio books from services like Audible is very multi-dimensional. No longer do I read a book in isolation. I remember so many times in the past, when I was reading a printed book that I loved, I just wanted to hug it all the time. I hated when I finished reading it because that meant we would part forever. I would place the book on a shelf near me and blow kisses to it once in a while. I would call friends and sometimes strangers to see if they read the book so we could talk about it.  Then I joined book groups because I wanted to share what I had read with others.  I really didn’t like most of these groups because they were usually made up of people I knew or friends of theirs. We usually spent more time discussing everyone’s life then the book. So then I joined a more serious book club. The heated debates were so violent I feared for my life (not really but it sounds good). There was one bitch who screamed so loud and pulled at her hair with such force that I thought she was going to split in two. The fact that she downed five or six glasses of wine didn’t help either. 

I just didn’t want to be victimized. Live book clubs were supposed to be intellectually stimulating experiences, not bully fights.  I decided after five or six of these face-to-face gatherings, that all of my future interactions would take place online. I joined two online discussions  groups through publishing houses, but shortly discovered that many of the participants disappeared in a day or two. I really wanted a community where there was a sense of commitment and lots of related services. 

I don’t remember how I found Audible but it must have been through one of their advertisements. They offer a 100,000 plus titles (every genre imaginable) as well as radio shows, podcasts, stand-up comedy and recordings from captains of industries that cover culture, politics, business and entertainment. The narrators, many of them famous actors or the authors themselves, just don’t read word for word, they provide vocal inflections. You hear a giggle, a deep breath, a pause, an accent or a cough that enhances the experience and confirms that you are totally realizing the essence of the book.  That first exhilarating experience happened to me when I listened to James Michener’s South Pacific on an audio cassette in my car. I had a long three hour drive and I didn’t want the trip to be monotonous. I picked a book that I wouldn’t ordinarily read in print. The three hour trip felt like three minutes because I had never experienced Michener before. Listening to descriptions about faraway places and the adventures of getting there, were beyond anything that I had ever imagined. I felt like a whole slice of life was given to me on a silver platter. 

I also love that I can now discuss my books 24/7, 365 days a year on Audible. I always have someone to converse with on my terms. Most audio book clubs offer message boards, discussions with authors,  reviews,  a list of books you’ve bought, what you wish for, new entries, a gift area and instructional videos on how to get started.  I feel like I am part of a club that has been tailored just for me. I can pay monthly or annually and I even get credits for buying books. Sometimes I feel like they are giving me more books for free than I actually purchase. 

Lately I have done the unthinkable.  I buy an audio book from Audible and I then buy the same book for my iPad as well.  I love listening to the book, then searching on my iPad for the parts that I want to repeat to others. I underscore in yellow and use the electronic book marks for searching purposes.  I am just one of those people who likes to share interesting thoughts with others.  I recently listened to Steven Tyler’s, “Does The Noise In My Head Bother You?”  What an odd choice for conservative me?  Not at all. I am thrilled to hear all about the behind the scenes life of a rocker and the risks he took. I love the part when he was jumping on a trampoline in an outdoor Connecticut activity center after hours.  All of a sudden the owner appeared and asked him to leave. He explained that he was letting off steam before performing in a concert that night. The young owner invited him back to his house, not too far away. They were drinking a few beers when the guy’s father showed up. Paul Newman walked in with a racing friend. Tyler was blown away. The young owner was Scott Newman. He spent the next hour or two trading entertainment war stories. He couldn’t believe that he was in the presence of a legend. He described the situation with such surreal detail and such excitement. I was glad I heard it in the spoken word.  The 16 hours it took me on the treadmill to hear Tyler’s entire book was extremely enjoyable.  At the end of each session, I felt a sense of renewal. His life was so foreign to me that it forced me to think about my future in a way I never thought possible.

 

MY DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

I have to admit this in the first line of my post. I listen to audiobooks. I listen to them on my iPhone, iPad and iPod, whatever device is accessible at the time.  It has changed my life. I never would have experienced James Michener, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Walter Issacson, Stephen King and lately, Joyce Carol Oates, if I didn’t belong to Audible and other audio book clubs. You can poo poo me all you want. I can hear you now, “There is nothing like sitting down with a book and reading it yourself page after page.”  Let’s not get into a discussion about printed books versus eBooks at this time. We can save that for another discussion.  Yes, reading a book with your own interpretation and visual sense is a very satisfying and rewarding experience. I still read books and I also read several newspapers each day (okay maybe peruse). Also, six online blogs (Huffington Post, Mashable, AllThingsD, The Daily Beast, CNET, Tech Crunch) and countless news, entertainment and specialty magazines. There isn’t enough hours in the day to cover all this, do my job, shower, dress, make phone calls, see friends, exercise, watch TV or a movie, read and post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

However, there is always time for an audiobook. I listen while I am on the treadmill (yes I know it doesn’t show), in the car, the subway, on a flight to wherever, waiting for my doctor, a business appointment that is always late, in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, when I knit, on the beach, in the park and during long walks. It is just marvelous. It is a different kind of experience than reading the book yourself. Frankly, I think you capture more. You hear stuff your eyes can’t capture, especially from the authors who read their books themselves. I remember when I listened to Harry Markopolos reading “No One Would Listen, A True Financial Thriller.” That was his book about trying to get the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to take a meeting with him so he could expose Bernie Madoff. I almost fell off the treadmill when I listened to the part about his paranoia that Bernie was going to have him killed. He bought a gun, barricaded his home and was always on the lookout for thugs.  I was laughing a little too much. What was very serious to Harry was somehow humorous to me, since we all know that Harry was not even on Bernie’s radar screen most of the time. I don’t think you could have picked this up through the written word. Maybe, but it was pretty remarkable hearing Harry describe his emotions.

I also don’t feel I would have grabbed the highs and lows of what Joyce Carol Oates describes in her book “A Widow’s Story,” the immediate experiences of widowhood. I felt her 13 months of pain, anguish, terror and depression. Very few authors write like Oates. She describes peeling an onion like an exhilarating experience. You don’t want to miss a word. I tried reading her in the past, but didn’t have the patience to comprehend what she had to offer. I can do it now because I’ve learned to appreciate her every word. I was so involved in her story, that I got very upset when I found out that she had remarried  13 months later, but had left that out of the book. Her publisher defends her in a story in the New York Times, saying that her subsequent life had nothing to do with what she went through after the death of her husband, Raymond Smith. Hmmm!

I can go on and on about the virtues of listening to an audio book, but I have gone way beyond the limits of how long a blog post should be. Tomorrow I will tell you about the intricacies of belonging to an audio book club and other personal experiences I’ve had listening to James Michener and even,  I hate to admit, Steven Tyler.