Good things happen in threes, right?
And so it is that three of my Jewish guidebooks are being released as audiobooks this year.
My novels became audiobooks soon after their print publication, but that was not the case for the five non-fiction guidebooks to contemporary Jewish life I wrote.
It was no big surprise that the publishers of those books – at three different houses– decided against producing audiobooks. At the time of their release — in the mid-1980s and early 1990s — audiobooks were still a very small slice of the publishing pie and a Jewish how-to book was unlikely to get much traction.
Audiobooks have been around since 1934, when the American Foundation for the Blind made recordings on vinyl disks, which held about 15 minutes of speech per side. In the 1960s, books recorded on cassettes popularized the format, as did compact disks in the 1980s.
The big shift came in 1995, when audiobooks became available for download to computers. By 2022 they were generating $10.8 billion in sales, which is about 10% of the book market. That may not sound huge but the audience skews young, which means a lot in what is politely called a “mature” industry.
I did not give voice to any these books. While my earliest career dream was a life on stage, and I am not shy about speaking in public, but I know that I lack the skill required to record a manuscript in an efficient (ie: cost-effective way) was pleased to be given a chance to vote on the audition finalists.
The Jewish Wedding Now (previously The New Jewish Wedding) first published in 1984, updated in 2001, and again in 2017. Available in audio April, 2024.
Living A Jewish Life, first published in 1991, updated in 2023, available on audio now.
Choosing a Jewish Life first published in 1997 and updated in 2019, available on audio now.