Frequently Asked Questions about audiobooks

What does “unabridged” mean? Unabridged audiobooks are word-for-word, entire, complete, following every word of the original print book. This makes them the perfect resource for students who prefer to listen to the selected texts for school rather than read them. It also ensures that no nuance of the writer’s art is lost. Everything – every conversation, every description, every snippet, everything – is there, narrated by the reader. We indicate unabridged titles in our catalogues with UA.

What does “abridged” mean? Abridged audiobooks are condensed versions of the book. Sometimes the abridgement is extensive, but sometimes it is hardly noticeable. An abridgement of “War and Peace” (50 CDs unabridged!) onto 4 CDs is of course severely cut. Abridgements are good to get the gist of a story, or if you prefer a shorter version to the original. Some abridgements are extremely sensitively done and do not impair the storyline very much.

How can a book be abridged? Abridgements are done in different ways. Sometimes adjectives and other descriptive words are removed. Sometimes secondary plot lines are removed from the story. Sometimes entire chapters are removed if they are not part of the main storyline. Editorial decisions may remove sentences, phrases, or sections, as the editor deems appropriate.

What is a dramatisation? A dramatisation is either a radio play or a reworking of the original story so that it becomes like a radio play. The dialogue in the book is retained, and additional dialogue or a narrator to link the dialogue may be added to include some of the writer’s original descriptive passages. Dramatised versions have each character played by a separate actor/actress. Because the original story is reworked and almost certainly shortened, dramatisations are also abridged versions of the book, except in a very few instances.

What is a narration? A narration is an audiobook reading. An actor (or very occasionally two actors) is recorded reading the book. Narrations can be either abridged or unabridged.

Are all books available as audiobooks? No, not all books have been produced as audiobooks. If a title has been produced as an audiobook, it may no longer be in print. At Soundbooks, we offer personal world-wide searches to see whether a hard-to-get title is available in a warehouse locally or overseas, so that we can order it for you.

What sort of books are recorded as audiobooks? Audiobooks include virtually every genre – everything from romance, the latest general fiction, great modern literature, the classics of the height of Classical Greece, eighteenth century novels, mediaeval works, the most brain-teasing mysteries, westerns, science fiction, fantasy, business titles, self-help, great comedy titles, the Bible, hair-raising horror, and a superb range of children’s and young adults’audiobooks.

Is every audiobook available on both CD and cassette, or on mp3? The range of titles available in CD format, mp3 format and cassette format varies according to publisher rights and publisher decisions. The best way to be sure about a particular title is to check our online lists, and if you’re still not certain, please ask us.

Who does the reading on audiobooks? There are numerous narrators who regularly read audiobooks. Some are classically trained British actors who can curl your toes, produce blood-curdling and chilling readings, utilise their voices to tickle your funny bone with their dry wit and humour, or seduce you into a puddle of audiobook pleasure. Professional American actors can also bring particular books to life with superb renditions. There is a growing body of Australian narrators who are fast putting their mark upon the audiobook world. At Soundbooks, we are familiar with the best narrators in the world – narrators who can truly bring characters and situations to life, and whose articulation is clear and easy to understand.

We at Soundbooks have our favourites: Derek Jacobi, Anton Lesser, Alex Jennings, Neville Jason, Martin Shaw, Stephen Fry, Martin Jarvis, Rob Inglis, Philip Madoc, Timothy West, Kenneth Brannagh, Samuel West, Miriam Margolyes, Emma Fielding, Juliet Stephenson, Fiona Shaw, Samantha Bond. (This is just a short selection of British narrators whom we recommend. There are many more.) For American readers, Frank Muller and George Guidall are two who are outstanding. This list is not intended to be comprehensive – there are many more readers whom we consider very good. We always look for the very best narrations and dramatisations of audiobooks, and our expertise means we KNOW which versions are the best.

Do you do mail orders? Yes. You can order by phone, fax, email or using our secure on-line form. We will be happy to mail out your order world-wide.

Do you have audiobooks available for borrowing? No. We are a retail shop, and our audiobooks are available for purchase. Build up your own library of audiobooks for repeated listening, a luxury that borrowed audiobooks cannot offer.

From where can I borrow audiobooks? Many public libraries have an audiobook section – you can borrow audiobooks as a member. Contact your local library for details, and don’t forget that you can request that your local library include more audiobook titles if you want a more extensive range. If your librarian doesn't already know about the great range of audiobooks available, suggest he/she browses through our extensive on-line catalogues.

Can I buy out-of-print or hard-to-find audiobooks through you? Yes, we do offer a hard-to-find search-and-order facility, and many titles unavailable anywhere else can be found and purchased through us. Contact us with your inquiry, and we’ll let you know whether we can obtain that elusive title, its cost and its estimated order time.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.





Please note: price are listed in Australian dollars and include GST. Prices subject to change without notice.
Minimum deposit $20 required when ordering titles not in stock. (Non-refundable for cancelled orders; refundable if title unobtainable.)
UA = unabridged, word-for-word

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