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You might be wondering what does Robin Williams have to do with audiobooks. Below, in a sad but inspiring note to the Audible team, CEO Donald Katz shares his memories of Robin Williams – not only a great actor but a vital figure in the events that made audiobooks what they are today.

From: Katz, Donald
Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 10:48 AM
To: Audible_Global
Subject: Robin Williams

Gang,

Audible lost a member of the family yesterday, and I want to take a moment to remember.

Robin Williams created our first original program, a biweekly talk show that we cooked up over the course of a day in his living room in San Francisco. I was sore the next day from laughing, as he trained his singularly powerful mind on the idea of changing the world of listening. “In their ears! In their @#$#$ ears!” he barked when he phoned his mentor, the great Jonathan Winters, to ask what he thought of the idea of Robin joining the Audible adventure. “It’ll be just me inside their brains!” It turned out that Robin loved emergent technologies, and he shared our belief that technology could change a culture. He went on to not only invest money in Audible in 1999, but for several years after that, he consistently showed up to try to help us explain to others that Audible was born to transform what people could do “when your eyes are busy but your mind is free” … as we used to say back then.

Robin appeared on all of the morning talk shows for Audible in early 2000 – on Entertainment Tonight, on Letterman and many other shows too. He would hold up the original Audible MobilePlayer we invented and talk about the future and his new Audible show. Dave and the other hosts – not unlike just about everyone else back then – tried to understand what in the world Robin was talking about. Robin accompanied us to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to host an Audible party and other events, and he walked the floors at the show like a manic pied piper, machine gun streams of outrageous synapse-quick verbal brilliance pouring from him without pause. He literally leapt into our post-IPO closing dinner in New York and bounced around talking trash about the Credit Suisse bankers in the room and implying that it didn’t matter what he said about them because they surely only spoke French. He so completely skewered institutional investors on our behalf at a conference in Arizona some weeks later, that making fun of the money culture riding the first internet wave became a part of his comedic repertoire.

Beyond putting his own cash into our way-too-early-for-prime-time dream, Robin did his show for us for several years, deploying his deep intellect and curiosity while hosting guests like George Lucas, Mario Cuomo, Bonnie Raitt, Harvey Fierstein, and Oliver Sachs, and though he’d recently turned down $20 million to represent a consumer product and earned just about that much per movie, we paid him in Audible warrants. When the internet economy fell apart in the spring of 2000, those warrants became worthless, and yet he never once stopped delivering his show, and I only heard him complain once. We were appearing together on a talk show Candice Bergen used to host. At the time, the entire company was worth less than the valuation ascribed to our patent portfolio. Robin leapt out of his chair, charged the nearest camera, and pointed at me. “Don Katz paid me in Confederate currency!” he bellowed. Then he started making shoveling motions and singing an impromptu song clearly intended to simulate that of a slave working in the fields: “Hooo Ah bin a-workin’ for Audible ….”

We survived the destruction that took out most internet companies at that time, and by the end of 2003 when the Audible-compatible iPod was flying into listeners’ hands, I actually allowed myself to think that we might just be OK. I was standing backstage before the iPod Mini was unveiled during the first few days of January in 2004, and an unusually big and very hairy forearm encircled my neck from behind. I didn’t need to look to know who it was. “We did it! We’re gonna make it!” Robin barked, grinning from ear to ear.

Throughout those times, I did sometimes notice Robin becoming very quiet and seemingly sad, but then he’d think of something or feel the need to ready himself to turn on and become the Robin so many people loved, and that whirlwind force-of-nature energy would explode from him once again. In recent years, as with others I know who cared for him, I fell out of touch with Robin, and I will now try not to feel guilty about that. I made a note only a few weeks ago to get in touch with Robin, so I could tell him that so many years after we shared the dream of creating a lot of original Audible programming that we could deposit directly “into the ears” of millions of listeners, that vision was finally becoming real. But I didn’t get around to it. So I woke up this morning thinking I could at least honor the memory of an American genius who believed in Audible when hardly anyone else did. I find myself thinking too often of late that people only really die if they are forgotten, so I thought I’d share these things to help make sure this doesn’t happen in the case of the preternaturally talented Mr. Williams.

Onward,

Don

This note was originally published on donald-katz.com.

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Hard Duty - Merkiaari Wars Series

Audiobook Jungle readers can get the Hard Duty audiobook for free when signing up for a new Audible account. Click on this image to sign up and get your free copy!

Written by: Mark E. Cooper

Narrated by: Mikael Naramore

Length: 12 hrs and 42 mins

Series: Merkiaari Wars, Book 1

Format: Unabridged

Release Date:02-18-14

Publisher: Impulse Books UK

Are you up for some awesome space opera action? Then continue reading because Hard Duty by Mark E. Cooper is just the audiobook for you. In my opinion it takes a lot of courage to start writing a space opera series because there are so many good books out there already and the fans of the genre are going to ruthlessly compare your works with other authors. I guess that’s true for all genres but it’s kind of hard to pull off a good space opera that’s somewhat original and adds something to the genre. However, Mr. Cooper seems to be on the right path with Hard Duty, the first novel in the Merkiaari Wars series.

I’ve read my share of space opera and quite a bit of it in audiobook format so I felt right at home with Hard Duty’s premise – an Alliance of human populated planets lives through a devastating alien invasion, the death toll is in the billions. Humanity is hesitant of exploring space and conquering new worlds, fearing the Merkiaari might attack again.


1 FREE Audiobook Credit RISK-FREE from Audible.com

The reader is seamlessly informed about the back-story in the beginning which  is where things start happening fast. A new alien race is discovered by one of the few Alliance exploratory vessels left. That should be enough plot info to get you interested in the audiobook.

Now, you might say there’s lots of cliches in almost every space opera book and that would be true to some extent for Hard Duty too but it didn’t bother me that much to be honest. The whole human-meets-alien aspect isn’t original but was interesting and the aliens themselves were quite fascinating.

If you’re looking for epic large scale space battles, there’re some but they’re definitely not the main driver of the plot. There are quite a few different POVs, some of which I wanted to read more of but I guess that’ll happen in the next books in the series.

The characters weren’t very complex but had natural interactions, overall good dialogue/monologue and some funny one-liners here and there. I’m interested in what’s going to happen to them in the next installments of the series.

The narrator of this audiobook - Mikael Naramore makes it a very enjoyable piece of entertainment. His voice blends perfectly with the characters’ personality and emotions.

There isn’t a lot of hard science or deep philosophical themes in it so I’d recommend this audiobook to anybody looking for a well written light read in the sci-fi genre.

1 FREE Audiobook Credit RISK-FREE from Audible.com

Hard Duty by Mark E. Cooper
Date Published: 08/03/2014
3.5 / 5 stars
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Superheroes In Prose audiobook review

Audiobook Jungle readers can download Superheroes In Prose or any other audiobook for free with a new Audible account. Click the image to sign up and download your free audiobook.

Written by: Sevan Paris

Narrated by: Bryan Reid

Length: 1 hr and 52 mins

Series: Superheroes in Prose, Book 1

Release Date:08-01-13

Publisher: Sevan Paris

Superheroes in Prose: Welcome to Prose is a fun little audiobook that will get a few chuckles out of you, or at least it did it for me. I didn’t have any expectations for it and the title of the book sounded a little strange to me especially the Prose part. Turns out it’s the name of the fictional city where there’s an unusual clustering of superheroes per capita. This audiobook is really just the set up for the series and introduces the main superheroes that clash in epic battles with the city of Prose as the backdrop. Read the rest of this entry

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Disclaimer: This is a guest post by Mike Hill.

777-fullOnce just for the blind, audiobooks are now being devoured by the general public be they on CDs, in digital format, or even old timey analog cassette tapes. While ebooks remain more accessible to new authors (there’s no need to find a studio or buy decent recording equipment so your narration is at the very least understandable), the audiobook industry has ballooned into a billion-dollar industry in the past few years – thanks in no small part to the easy accessibility afforded by media-capable phones and other mobile devices. Read the rest of this entry

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The Atlantis Gene audiobook review

Audiobook Jungle readers can download The Atlantis Gene or any other audiobook for free with a new Audible account. Click the image to sign up and download your free audiobook.

The Atlantis Gene is the debut novel of author A.G.Riddle and it successfully combines history, science, conspiracy theories, tech, evolution, and thrilling action into one. It isn’t perfect by any means, but contrary to some of the other reviews I’ve read I found it to be a very enjoyable audiobook.
Some of the reviews I’ve seen were really funny to me for several reasons. For example, they complain about how the beginning is too confusing with all the different subplots ‘thrown’ at the reader. Uhm, hello? Have you not read a thriller in your life before? This isn’t something that hasn’t been done before and in fact it’s a classic formula for the genre. If it’s too confusing for you maybe you should start with something easier, like, I don’t know, the alphabet? Read the rest of this entry

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sand-audiobook-review

Audiobook Jungle readers can download Sand or any other audiobook for free with a new Audible account. Click the image to sign up and download your free audiobook.

First of all, look at that book cover! Isn’t it gorgeous? OK, the omnibus edition of Sand by Hugh Howey is one of those audiobooks that made me think “Wow, this is really special!” after reading them. I don’t know if it’s the unique post appocaliptic setting, the beautiful, loneliness-inducing prose, the tough and likable characters or something other that’s intangible. I’m pretty sure Hugh Howey is some sort of wizard or at least is utilizing some sort of subconscious triggers that make me like his audiobook so much. :D Read the rest of this entry

The Island by Jen Minkman (Audiobook Review)

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audiobook review of The Island by Jen Minkman

Audiobook Jungle readers can download The Island or any other audiobook for free with a new Audible account. Click the image to sign up and download your free audiobook.

The Island: The Island Series, Book 1

Written by: Jen Minkman

Narrated by: Coco Bell

Length: 2 hrs and 30 mins

Series: The Island Series, Book 1

Format: Unabridged

Release Date:02-06-14

Publisher: Kemah Bay Marketing LLC

The Island is a short, two and a half hours long novella that surprised me with some clever writing and after finishing it I found myself wanting to see more, to know what happens to the characters next. That was quite a different outcome from my sneaking suspicions when I got it at first – here we go, just another Young Adult book. Not the case it turns out.

Read the rest of this entry

At Home by Bill Bryson Audiobook Review

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Today at Audiobook Jungle we have our first guest review, written by Graham Kerr which will be about At Home by Bill Bryson. You can find what Graham’s up to at his Tumblr blog at whyayesosirius.tumblr.com.

At Home by Bill Bryson Audiobook Review and free download

Audiobook Jungle readers can get this or any other audiobook for free with a new Audible account. Click the image to sign up and download your free audiobook.

“I don’t know how many hours of my school years were spent studying the Missouri Compromise or the War of the Roses, but it was vastly more than I was ever encouraged or allowed to give to the history of eating, sleeping, having sex, or endeavouring to be amused.”
Bill Bryson – At Home

Bryson finally has his wish to spend time studying the history of these things and the results make for an enticing read. Indeed, if someone had offered me money to listen to a man talk about rooms and objects in his house for 17 hours I would have, without doubt, refused. Unless they told me that this man was Bill Bryson. Now that my friends is an altogether different proposition. I’ve read all of Bryson’s works, from his early escapades with the English language through living and travelling around Britain, North America and an adventure down under.

Read the rest of this entry

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Audiobook Jungle readers can get this or any other audiobook for free with a new Audible account. Click the image to sign up and download your free audiobook.

Audiobook Jungle readers can get this or any other audiobook for free with a new Audible account. Click the image to sign up and download your free audiobook.

Pride and Prejudice – the 200th Anniversary Audio Edition

Written by: Jane Austen

Narrated by: Alison Larkin

Length: 13 hrs and 21 mins

Format: Unabridged

Release Date:10-31-13

Publisher: BMA and British Classic Audio

So we have another classic book here at the Audiobook Jungle. Quite a different work from The Brothers Karamazov, which was the last classic audiobook I reviewed. Let’s start with some expectation adjustment. Modern readers have certain expectations of books. The writing style, the plot structure, the themes are all done differently done nowadays than when the novel was first published in 1813. Heck, that was two full centuries ago! Even the language sounds different. This is my recommendation for everyone that is going to read Pride and Prejudice or classic literature in general – expect it to be different. Read the rest of this entry

METAtropolis: Green Space Audiobook Review

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Audiobook Jungle readers can get this or any other audiobook for free with a new Audible account. Click the image to sign up and download your free audiobook.

Audiobook Jungle readers can get this or any other audiobook for free with a new Audible account. Click the image to sign up and download your free audiobook.

METAtropolis: Green Space

Written by: Jay Lake, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder, Seanan McGuire, Tobias S. Buckell, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ken Scholes
Narrated by: Dion Graham, Robin Miles, Mark Boyett, Scott Brick, Allyson Johnson, Sanjiv Jhaveri, Jennifer Van Dyck, Jonathan Davis
Length: 14 hrs and 16 mins
Series: METAtropolis, Book 3
Release Date:10-15-13, Publisher: Audible Frontiers

Warning! You’re entering serious geek territory! Only authorized geeky personnel is to proceed beyond this point! OK, I’m kidding but seriously, this is some awesome hardcore sci-fi stuff. When a few years ago I started listening to audiobooks, one of the first books that I listened to was the original METAtropolis and I can say without any doubt that it was that moment I got completely hooked on the medium. If you haven’t read it, it’s a collection of five novellas specifically written for this book by award-winning sci-fi authors and narrated by actors from the awesome Battlestar Galactica TV show and other A Team voice talent. I just can’t recommend it enough. After hungrily plowing through it I immediately got my little hands on the next installment of this series - METAtropolis: Cascadia and indulged in some more amazing science fiction from these talented authors. That was somewhere around 2011 or 2012, I think. Imagine my recent reaction when I found out there’s a new third book. Read the rest of this entry

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