In her article, Reading with Your Ears, Kaite Mediatore gives many examples of how audiobooks change appeal factors for readers. Most importantly, she adds a fifth element, audible presentation, to the four that were introduced by Joyce Saricks and that we have come to rely on for print books; pacing, characterization, story line, and frame. Mediatore defines audible presentation as "how all the above appeal factors blend together when narrated for a recorded book."
Mediatore states that "narration changes and intensifies every element of a book's appeal...how a narrator approaches the pacing can determine how interested the reader-listener becomes in the book... how the pace of the book and the pace of the narrator work together is imperative...How well a narrator adopts different accents or pitches in voice to distinguish between characters is a necessary element to the audio book." Mediatore notes that some structures in stories do not translate well into an audio format. These structures might include: article excerpts; diary entries; e-mails; or letters.
Mediatore adds, "An element that includes tone, mood, atmosphere, and details, frame is often hard for readers to describe and can be difficult for readers advisors to match." She suggests "pairing with another appeal element" to make the readers' advisory interview more successful for the reader. Elements such as music, sound effects, or additional readings may also add to the frame of the audiobook. Readers may choose titles across many genres simply because of a narrator that they prefer. They may also stop listening to a book because the narrator has not successfully drawn them into the story.
If a patron has no preference for the narrator, offering suggestions become much more difficult for the readers' advisor. The back of the case is the only space for description. It should include whether the book is abridged, the name of the narrator, the total time of the reading, and the number of discs included. The advisor has no way of knowing if there are any "audible extras" or how well the narrator handles the task.
In her article, E-books and Readers' Advisory, Katie Dunneback describes how e-books present an entirely different set of changes for appeal factors. Display options are the most direct factors affecting the reader's immersive experience when compared to reading a print book. The size and weight of the device will make a difference to those readers who prefer to read only paperback or only hardback books. For those who like the feel of a book, a choice of covers for the device is a necessity. Readers with physical restrictions will be pleased that they can resize the font, the spaces between words, and the margin size and that they can find devices with text-to-speech capability. A heavy, cumberosme device would be difficult for someone in a hospital or nursing home or having arthritis to hold for long period.
E-books may also contain additonal features not available in the print version. They may also encourage early literacy skills in preschoolers and reluctant readers. In her article: E-Books vs. Print: What Parents Need to Know, Jenny Deam notes that many e-books are interactive and include add-ons which enable the child to zoom in on a word to get a definition or a connection to their real world which increases their vocabulary. Many e-books light up each word as it is read aloud helping the child focus providing early word recognition. E-books have been extremely successful helping non-native-English speakers increase their vocabularies. Visual learners are especially attracted to this format.
Not having an actual book in your hand can greatly affect knowledge of the genre. Less information about the book and the author is available. We cannot flip through the book to see how long each chapter is, if the text is full of dialogue which might indicate an amusing character, or if there are long paragraphs which could help indicate pacing and writing style. Feeling the weight and seeing the pages of a print book shift from the right to the left gives the reader a sense of how much of the story they have read and how much they have left to go. Much like being able to sense how much time you have left by looking at an analog clock or watch is missing when using a digital format. It is difficult to flip back and forth to reread passages or double check what was read with audiobooks.
The readers' advisory interview is especially important when recommending these formats. Focusing on what appeal factors are crucial to the reader's experience will go a long way towards providing suitable suggestions to the reader. Mediatore suggests a way to listen to a book in fifteen minutes, which might work in theory, but as the sole selector for all materials across all mediums for my library, I use every available method for ratings and reviews that I can find.
Audiobook and ebook reviews have not always been easy to find, but many sources are now available. In February, ALA announced that they will begin including audiobooks in their YALSA blog, the Hub: Your Connection to Teen Collections. (http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/)
NoveList allows you to search by appeal elements and limit by format as well. Kirkus and BookList regularly include ebook format ordering information. Library Journal (http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/category/media/audio/), and School Library Journal (http://www.slj.com/category/reviews/multimedia/) both include media reviews monthly. BookList offers reviews of audio books also. (https://www.booklistonline.com/SearchResults.aspx)
Reading with Your Ears: Readers' Advisory and Audio Books by Kaite Mediatore
E-books and Readers' Advisory by Katie Dunneback
Steaming up the Circ Desk: Are Ebooks Changing What Our Patrons Read? by Carrie Genovese and Dr. Andrea Copeland's PowerPoint presentation
E-Books vs. Print: What Parents Need to Know by Jenny Deam