Monday, June 30, 2008

NPR Driveway Moments: Baseball and Questions About Audiobooks

When an audiobook is not first a printed book is it a book? Is it really even an audiobook? Do you prefer "audio book" or "audiobooks"? Does it matter if you enjoy the audio?

I enjoyed very much NPR Driveway Moments: Baseball, a two CD set of baseball-related stories from All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Day to Day, Tell Me More, and News & Notes. There are many familiar voices, including Bob Edwards, Alex Cohen, and Melissa Block, interviewing old stars, authors of books, fans, and other people somehow related to the game. There are also commentaries from Bill Littlefield, Frank Deford, and Neal Conan. It is purely entertaining and unbroken by depressing news or pledge drives.

My favorites include Bob Edwards interviewing Mamie "Peanuts" Johnson, a woman who pitched in the Negro Leagues in the 1950s. She tells how she was excluded from the white women's leagues that sprung up around World War II but played competitively with men. Most of them were gentlemen, according to Johnson, but there were a few she had to "put in their place." Her favorite moment may have been striking out Satchel Paige.

One of the most touching stories is "Braves Cheered On by Truly Brave Hospice Fans" which tells about a coach visiting the patients and nuns at a hospice close to Turner Field and bringing them to games. One of the funniest is "Aren't We Tired of Watching the Pitch Count?" by commentator Frank Deford, but I can not tell you why it is funny without giving away the joke.

I nodded in agreement with writer Paul Schersten who critiqued all the new corporate names for ballparks. I laughed with author Derek Zumsteg telling about ballplayers falling for the hidden ball trick.

The only problem with NPR Driveway Moments: Baseball is that there are only two CDs and slightly less that two hours of content. I could have listened for weeks. So, now I'm listening to NPR Driveway Moments: All About Animals, which has some great stories about talking birds.

Back to my initial questions. My fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary recommends "audio book" to writers. Most of the definitions on the web also separate the words but I did find some for the word "audiobook". Worldcat separates the words but our SWAN catalog in the Metropolitan Library System uses the one word version. All the definitions say that audio books are taped readings of books. It seems they have not caught up with the transition to compact discs and digital files. I believe that they also have not caught up to broader ideas of books and audiobooks as commonly used in libraries and bookstores.

NPR Driveway Moments: Baseball. HighBridge, 2008. ISBN 9781598875874

1 comment:

George Hodgkins said...

On the issue of "audio books" vs. "audiobooks":

Back around 1995 the Audio Publishers Association spent many hours debating this very question (I was president of the association then, and I still get headaches from those hours). Our intention was to settle on consistent terminology that could be used industry-wide to help increase public awareness. What we settled on was "audiobooks."

As for the issue of whether an audiobook was ever a book: Our position was that an audiobook was a recording of material that was suitable for book publication, whether or not it was ever in book form. (I'm sure there was some kind of official statement, but I don't remember it. This was the gist.)

An finally -- no, it doesn't matter all that much. Unless, of course, you're trying to write about audiobooks.