Yesterday I received the good news that Audible.com are giving me 10 book credits. This certainly won’t be enough to get me all the way to Australia (or wherever), but it all helps. Leo Laporte is also giving me his latest selection of audiobooks, and I still have a few left from my last row, although I’ve listened to all the ones that looked good.
This is the message that I sent to Audible through their website contact form:
I am a British ocean rower. In 2005 I rowed solo across the Atlantic, and I am now about to embark on the final stage of a 3-stage row across the Pacific, a total distance of 8,000 miles from San Francisco to Australia.
I couldn’t do what I do (at least with any shred of sanity left intact) without my audiobooks. Each of my ocean voyages takes around 100 days, during which time I am totally alone. The audiobooks are a fantastic diversion for me – they help me escape from the monotony of sea and sky, day after day. My imagination can take off into magical worlds of fantasy and sci-fi, or I can educate myself and expand my mind with works of non-fiction.
I have a rule that I can only listen to audiobooks while I am rowing. It helps motivate me to get back on the rowing seat for up to 12 hours of rowing a day. I listen to between 70 and 80 books on each crossing.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse of how much audiobooks mean to me.
With thanks and best wishes
I received this response:
Thanks very much for writing to us about listening as you row. In the 14 years I’ve been at Audible, I’ve heard lots of stories about where people listen, but yours is the most exciting. I admire what you are doing and am glad that Audible can play even a small role to help.
So now I have to carefully consider how to spend my precious 10 credits. Last year I got 100 credits from Audible.co.uk (and am still hoping they will contribute again, but am still waiting to hear) which completely spoiled me. I didn’t need to be quite so selective. With just 10 credits to play with for now, I am considering how to get most bang for my buck.
My main criteria for an audiobook are:
1. Length: even if it’s a really great book, a 4-hour audiobook loses out to a 24-hour audiobook.
2. Escapism: edifying though non-fiction often is, on the ocean I’ve largely given up on edification. Life is hard enough already. When faced with yet another day of sea and sky and little silver rowboat, my imagination craves stimulation. Books that take me temporarily into a different time and/or place are a welcome escape from row-row-row-reality.
3. Quality of narration: the best book in the world can be ruined by poor narration. Most Audible.com readers are excellent, as I’ve really appreciated when I’ve listened to some readers associated with other audiobook companies. I have an iPod full of free audiobooks – free because they were written over 100 years ago so the copyright has expired, and because the readers are maybe less than professional. Project Gutenberg and other volunteer organizations are digitizing thousands of public domain works. I especially enjoy the bits that somehow missed the edit, e.g. in the midst of a Charles Dickens an unexpected aside like: “oh bugger, I messed that bit up – let’s try it again”. This would never happen on Audible.
You can see the books I read on Pacific Stage 1 on my new Bookshelf page. It’s still under development – my wonderful, long-suffering mother has been charged with the unenviable task of posting the rest of the links to Audible and Amazon.
And yes, if you click through from my site to purchase, I do get a commission on the book and anything else you buy from Audible.com within 6 months. The Pacific II book list coming once I am in the same place as my logbook again – currently it is in San Francisco and I am in Oregon.
(And if you feel moved to contribute the price of an audiobook, please check out the Audible.com website to find out how much your book of choice costs, and use the PayPal button in the top right corner on my website. Thanks!)