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June 10, 2005

My Life by Bill Clinton Selected Audiobook of the Year

BK_RAND_000449.jpgBill Clinton’s memoir My Life was selected as Audiobook of the Year at the recent “Audies” presentation sponsored by the Audiobook Publishers Association. The audiobook was narrated by President Bill Clinton and published by Random House.

I listened to My Life but I listened to the unabridged version which was read by Michael Beck. Beck did a really good job of sounding like Clinton without actually being Clinton. In other words, not nearly as raspy… For my review of the unabridged version of My Life, click here.

A couple of other interesting facts from the APA:

-APA estimates the size of the audiobook market at $800 million.
-The industry grew 5.1 percent from 2002 to 2003.

For info about the Audie awards including a complete list of winners, click here.




June 1, 2005

Barnes & Noble’s Portable Professor Series

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For those of you who haven’t heard of the Teaching Company I encourage you to stop reading this and visit their site right now: www.teach12.com. For those of you who know of the Teaching Company’s greatness, you may not know of their major competitor Barnes & Noble’s Portable Professor Series. This series was actually originally recorded and published by Recorded Books and called “The Modern Scholar”, and they basically ripped off the concept of the Teaching Company which is not a bad model to rip off. They went around the United States and England and found distinguished college professors on the topics of history, philosophy, literature, and a handful of other college subjects. They then recorded the professors for 14 lectures providing us with an 8 hour course for a given topic on audio. At www.recordedbooks.com you can find all these courses on cassette and CD for $87.75 a course. I guess that price was a little too much, so Recorded Books decided to hand them over to Barnes & Noble to repackage them, rename them, and resell them on CD for $39.95 per course.

Now Barnes & Noble has 24 of these courses in their Audiobooks Section. They’ve spiced up the titles a little so what was labeled on Recorded Books as “Rethinking Our Past: Recognizing Facts Fictions, and Lies in American History” is now called “Everything You’ve Been Taught Is Wrong” for Barnes & Noble’s Portable Professor Series. We have all their titles up on LearnOutLoud.com and you can browse them here:

www.learnoutloud.com/portableprofessor

They have audio samples and before you buy you might want to check out the Barnes & Noble course pages because they have quite a few reviews to help you decide. For example I was looking to buy “Altering the Blueprint: The Ethics of Genetics” but after reading three scathing reviews I decided against this. They just added four courses, but there’s still about twenty courses that Recorded Books has published that haven’t made the leap over to Barnes & Noble and are only available at www.recordedbooks.com for he $87.75 a piece.

Also now Audible.com has 7 of the Portable Professor courses available for digital download:

One God, Three Faiths
Benjamin Franklin
Six Months That Changed the World
To Rule Mankind and Make the World Obey
Shaping Justice
April 1865
Altering the Blueprint

This is surely the best deal if you’re an Audible member because you each course is one book credit, but for Non Audible subscribers they cost $27.97. There’s many reviews on Audible for these products and you can also download the course guide in pdf format for free. I bought “To Rule Mankind and Make the World Obey” with professor Frances Titchener from Utah State University. I would rate it as an average college course, but it was definitely entertaining and worth the price of tuition. I just started listening to “Benjamin Franklin” and it’s very informative and interesting.

I don’t necessarily think that the professors for these courses go through the rigorous evaluations and auditions that the Teaching Company puts their professors through. Nevertheless these courses seem like very accessible lecture courses that would cost you ten times the amount if you took them at a university. And with these you can listen to them on your own time in your car or anywhere now that they’re becoming available for digital download, and there’s no arbitrary multiple choice test at the end. It’s a great way to learn.




May 9, 2005

The Far East gets that much Closer

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There have been a few new author pages put up for you to see. These two guys are somewhat related in that they are two westerners that became infatuated with eastern religion. The first author page I’ll point you to is the one for Ram Dass. While once a big advocator of that whole turn on, tune in, drop out thing that happened in the 60’s, Dass soon tired of blowing his consciousness with psychadelics and replaced it with the more healthy psych-bombs offered by Hinduism. I won’t go any futher from that except to say he seems very centered.

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Next up we have a page for someone that has one of the coolest voices ever: Alan Watts. Watts was sort of a religious jack of all trades. He was a minister at one point, and basically became a genius in the field of comparative religion. His focus was on Buddhism, but if you go through his titles you’ll notice he tackles almost every major belief system at some point in his career and considers each one carefully. I have to admit to liking this guy; he’s a rock star academic if there ever was one.




May 5, 2005

Author Pages are Going Up Like Crazy!

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What can I tell you, I’ve been inspired. I’m creating these author pages at a regular clip now and it’s getting addictive. I’m probably going to cut back a bit to tend to other things as the weekend rolls around, but I wanted to make mention of the latest author page I made for Napoleon Hill tonight. He’s the writer of what is probably the most famous self-help book ever “Think and Grow Rich“. On a related note, I’m still deciding on what my relationship is with money right now. There’s obviously always a need for it on a practical level, but I also tend to think of it as more of a means towards a goal rather than a goal in and of itself. Does that make sense? Whoa, went off on a tangent there. Anyway, I think the Napoleon page is looking pretty good there. Tell me what you think.




May 2, 2005

Leo Buscaglia

Man. I remember The Fall of Freddie the Leaf from when I was a young kid. It was the perfect formative way to learn about death. I’m not a parent yet, but I know that will be one of the first books I read to my son or daughter. For sure. I forgot how much that book meant to me. Anyway, just wanted to make note that I’ve created a Leo Buscaglia page tonight. He’s a real important writer to me personally and I hope you enjoy the information.




April 29, 2005

Atlas Blogged

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I’ve been putting some special effort into these two new author entries. I remember when I was a senior in high school and I decided to dive into my mother’s battered copy of “Atlas Shrugged“. I was an ambitious reader from an early age, and this book was one of those classic tomes that everyone recommends but hardly anyone has actually read. I’m not sure the philosophy would have worked very well for my mother, but for some reason she had it and I remember getting through most of it. Anyway, that brings me to the Ayn Rand page I recently put up. I know there are many Rand fans out there so I hope my Biographical Sketch has done her justice. If I had included everything I could have written a block of text that was the size of Atlas, andThe Fountainheadcombined. I’m dead serious.

Btw, if you are interested in more about Ayn Rand’s life, I found this link while I was snooping around the net for information on her. It’s actually pretty interesting to see those pictures of her in New York.

The other page created was a little lighter for those that may not be interested in lofty terms like Objectivism. Don’t get me wrong, Al Franken is just as interesting as Rand. It’s just on a different level. Hey, I’m sure he’d admit as much too! I recommend you listen to all of Al’s Audio books. He reads them all and I’ve never laughed more listening to an Audio Book.




April 21, 2005

Conversations with Neale

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Just finished a Neale Donald Walsch Page for you all to enjoy. This is the guy that wrote one of my mother’s favorites “Conversations With God“. Real inspiring story if there ever was one. Here is a guy that is as successful as anyone has a right to be and then comes crashing down hard. I mean hard: we’re talking a car crash that breaks his neck, a fire that destroys all his posessions and a divorce from his fourth wife, all of which happens within a year. Then to top it off he has to be homeless for the better part of a year. Whoa. So what does he do? He writes a note to none other than God, sends it off and gets a reply. Or so he says. I should probably listen to what he has to say before I make a conclusion on his work. Regardless, he’s pulled himself out of that incredible hole and is now quite rich. Not that you’d catch him saying it mattered. Interesting stuff…




April 8, 2005

Indie Audio Book Scene

I was just turned on today to what may be an underground independent audio book and spoken word scene. And it seems there should be. Who’s going to stand up against Simon & Schuster Audio and Time Warner AudioBooks of our feudal corporate globe. Because let’s face it. Even though hundreds of thousands of books are published each year, the stuff that makes it to audio book is usually the junky best sellers. As the audio publishing industry expands (and it is the fastest growing sector of the publishing industry) then hopefully some more obscure and more intelligent material will be recorded for our listening pleasure.

In the meantime though there is an independent spoken word scene. And with digital download this is a lot easier. Today I was suggested a few sites:

www.mperia.com
www.cdbaby.com

And these are independent music resources with spoken word sections from indie authors and narrators who charge nominal fees for their stuff to be downloaded. Here’s another punk rock label with spoken word titles I found:

www.alternativetentacles.com

Granted I don’t think a lot of indie rockers are intelligent enough to lay down their own high quality audio book but they go to Noam Chomsky and get him to do it. Any way it’s interesting. I don’t think the state of audio content is anywhere near the dire straits of the popular, radio-played music world, but with the world of podcasting and more digital downloading of spoken word, popular independent producers of great audio learning content could start popping up. And I guess by independent I mean not owned by giant multinational corporations, but I think a lot of audio book publishers are more or less independent or so we think but the AOL-Time Warner’s and Rupert Murdoch’s Harper-Collins’s of the world cast a wide swath. What I’m saying is we need a punk rock genre of audio book. Maybe.




April 5, 2005

Self Development Publishers

In preparations for tomorrows Focus on Self Development podcast I entered in 4 more Self Development Publishers and they are:

New Harbinger Publications
New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network
Effective Learning Systems
Himalayan Institute Press

The one that interested me most was New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network which has produced over 2,000 radio programs of dialogues with leaders in every walk of life. In depth talks with everyone major in self development are here:

Ram Dass
Joseph Campbell
Shakti Gawain
Andrew Weil
Wayne Dyer
Leo Buscaglia
Bernie Siegel
The Dalai Lama
Deepak Chopra
Thomas Moore
Marianne Williamson
Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi
Jon Kabat-Zinn
Dan Millman
Thich Nhat Hanh
Neale Donald Walsch
Caroline Myss
Eckhart Tolle
Jack Kornfield
Louise Hay

And the list goes on and on with artists, religious leaders, and tons of people I haven’t heard of. Literally thousands of titles that you can get from them on audio download. And many of them have lengthy samples that you can listen to online. An enormous resource from some of the greatest minds of our time.




April 2, 2005

Upcoming Topic Page for the Bible

Busy day working the Topic Pages which we’ll be featuring on our live site real soon. Our first topics are “Bible on Audio”, “Travel USA”, and “Real Estate”. I’ve been entering in every audio Bible known to man including Bibles in every format: CD, Cassette, MP3, and Digital Downloadable Bibles, including Bibles read by a full cast with music to Bibles read by the single voice of James Earl Jones. And you can get just the Old Testament or just the New or just about any indivdual book you want, and you can get them in the King James Version, or the NIV or the English Standard Version or the New Living Translation or any other major translation. My main resource so far has been The Bible Source. They’re much better organized than Amazon when it comes to browsing Bibles and they’ve even got some listening samples so you can get a taste for what you’re buying. But when I finish our Bible Topic page I assure you it will be the best and most complete Bible on Audio page on the whole WORLD WIDE WEB!