The comeback of audiobooks

Nowadays, audiobooks are not only for the visually-challenged people anymore. It has become another means of self-improvement or entertaining for many people around the world who are on the go or just simply on the couch and relaxing. Although it’s sad that bookstores are not as popular as they were 10-20 years ago, we can’t deny that audiobooks have their perks. You can listen to just about anything, anywhere and no need to carry the physical books or fear of the book being destroyed. This means extreme convenience for modern users which justify the $1.3 billion worth of the industry and counting.

As we are part of the language industry, in this article, we share our thoughts on audiobooks from our Asian experts point of view.

The translation

The comeback of audiobooksFirst and foremost, the translation of the source language to the target language must be nothing but perfect. There’s no need to even discuss the next two topics if the translation quality isn’t there. The best book translation is the translation that can capture every single detail like emotional elements, local slang, and culture. Then able to convert all of these flavors into the target language. Basically, the key success factor of an audiobook lay at its basic: translation.

The voice actor

Not only that his or her voice should be clear and easy to grasp, we think it’s crucial for the voice actor to understand the whole story culturally and contextually so that they can communicate all that through their ‘acting’. While we are not the expert in audiobook production (at least not yet), we believe a similar process like translation are in place. For example, there must be a voice editor who checks the quality and edit the ‘acting’ before processing further to the final product in order to strike the best quality.

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The tone and the accent

The comeback of audiobooksWe can say that this is one of the most fascinating aspects of an audiobook. In a story where there are many characters, especially with different accents and different behavior, audiobooks bring this aspect of life. Having said that, the voice actor (of course should be a native), must be capable of striking the right and appropriate tone of voice and accent. They should be knowledgeable of their own language in every aspect possible.

Furthermore, they must be crystal clear of where she or he will be telling the story from ie. from the 3rd party perspective, one of the characters, all of the characters or narratives. All these are necessary because there are layers of seniority, language tone, subtle context and double or even triple meaning in one-word choice in Asian languages.

Audiobooks are gaining popularity in the US, Europe, and Asia, however, there are not so many audiobooks available in Asian languages yet. Perhaps this is another market waiting to be tapped on. But take our points into account, the translation, the voice actor and the production process must be ready to tackle such complexity in order to be successful.