Saturday, August 30, 2008

WorldCat Is the Place to Identify Audiobooks

Client requests for audio versions of books has increased in libraries over the past five or ten years. In my library, when asked for an audiobook, I always check our consortium's catalog first; if my library or another member library in our system owns the wanted audiobook, it is simple to place a reserve. If no member owns an audio version of a book, the next question has often been whether such audiobook truly exists. In the past, I have often searched Amazon, a habit I developed when I noticed links to editions on title records. Now, I have changed my ways.

As I am adding titles to the book that I am writing about readers' advisory for biography, I am trying to identify when audiobooks are available. Of course, this is getting more complicated as the formats multiply. Sticking to cassettes and compact discs because they are more likely to be available through interlibrary loan, I am finding that WorldCat is the easiest and most reliable source of audiobook information.

As I completed a chapter about Scientific Biography, I ran a test against Worldcat, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble websites to see which identified the most unabridged audiobooks. Here are some of my findings:

Reluctant Mr. Darwin by David Quammen
  • WorldCat - CDs from both BBC and Audio Partners
  • Amazon - CDs from Audio Partner
  • Barnes & Noble - CDs from BBC

The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester
  • WorldCat - CDs from HarperCollins and Recorded Books, cassettes from HarperCollins
  • Amazon - CDs from HarperCollins
  • Barnes & Noble - CDs from HarperCollins, cassettes from HarperCollins

The Day Donny Herbert Work Up by Rich Blake
  • WorldCat - CDs from Books on Tape
  • Amazon - nothing
  • Barnes & Noble - nothing

Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio by Jeffrey Kluger
  • WorldCat - CDs from Tantor Media
  • Amazon - CDs from Tantor Media
  • Barnes & Noble - CDs from Tantor Media

Crashing Through by Robert Kurson
  • WorldCat - CDs and cassettes from Books on Tape
  • Amazon - only abridged CD from Random House
  • Barnes & Noble - only abridged CD from Random House

Longitude by Dava Sobel
  • WorldCat - CDs from Books on Tape and Random House, cassettes from Books on Tape
  • Amazon - unabridged cassettes from Macmillan
  • Barnes & Noble - only abridged cassettes from Macmillan

This pattern continued through my test. Amazon and Barnes & Noble rarely identify all the editions that are cited on WorldCat. WorldCat also identifies some audiobooks that are not generally available, i.e. recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic which are restricted to clients with special needs.

So, WorldCat is the spot for the audiobook identifications. Knowing that editions exist, they can then either by purchased or perhaps borrowed form holding libraries.

1 comment:

Mary Burkey said...

Wow, Rick! Thanks for the reminder. WorldCat IS the best way to search for audiobooks. I have given your post a shout-out on my audiobook blog - thanks for creating such a great blog!