Despite early worries that e-books would force print to go the way of the woolly mammoth and Elvis, it appears the end is not nigh. In fact, in 2016, paperback sales were up over 5%, with e-books down over 20%. Independent bookstores even saw a healthy uptick in sales (and book hounds rejoiced!).
What isn’t getting all the press it deserves are the incredible gains in audiobook sales. The audiobook market is booming, with sales increasing over 30% in 2016. Business for audiobook sellers like Audible.com and iTunes is good. Damn good.
The big question is, why?
I’m going to take a stab at it. From my vantage point, everyone is plugged into some device or another like stasis pods in The Matrix. We’re going to have an entire civilization of hunchbacks from all that craning down to gaze into our phones. If someone isn’t looking down, odds are they’re sporting earplugs and listening to music or podcasts or audiobooks.
Back in the day, which really isn’t that long ago, when I went to the beach, I would look over a sea of people reading books, magazines and newspapers. The beach is a perfect place to kick back and relax, unplugging yourself from the rat race. Now when I go, nearly everyone is locked onto their phones.
Audiobooks are a convenient way to read without having to – shudder – suffer from separation anxiety from our electronic devices. In a world where everyone likes to bemoan how busy they are, listening to a book during the commute to work or while shopping fits right in with their lifestyle.
Who has the time to sit and read anymore? In reality, everyone does, but we like to pretend our bouncing around like pinballs is so crucial to the survival of the planet, we refuse to sit still. Audiobooks are custom made for people on the go. I may read 100 books a year, but I also listen to a couple dozen audiobooks (in between the thousand podcasts I’m addicted to).
Production quality on audiobooks is advancing every year, with better narration and crisper recording. When GraphicAudio produced the audio for my book, The Montauk Monster, I was blown away by the end product. I didn’t know there were audiobooks like that. They call their audiobooks A Movie in Your Mind, and they are just that, with a large, talented cast, sound effects, music and more.
GraphicAudio recently released my latest tale of monster mayhem, The Jersey Devil. I have to say, even as the man who wrote the words, hearing it acted out is creepy and downright terrifying. To be able to hear the Jersey Devil screech and its hapless victims cry out for mercy chilled my blood. It reminds me of listening to the rebroadcasts of the old radio serials with my dad when I was a kid. Productions like this are the way of the future for audiobooks, in my humble opinion. It’s impossible to get bored or have your mind wander when you’re fully immersed in the story. Go on over to GraphicAudio and listen to some of the samples and see for yourself.
How do you feel about audiobooks? What are some of your favorites? It looks like they’re here to stay, but if anyone tells you they’re going to wipe out print books, point them to last year’s e-book sales statistics.
I know, Hellions, that’s one strange ass title for a blog post, but that’s exactly what it’s all about.
Thanks goes out to an old friend, Brenda B., for sharing this photo and story with me. Somehow, during my research into the Jersey Devil, I missed this! Back in the 60’s in New Jersey, a cow and a deer carcass somehow made it to the top of a telephone pole. Locals attributed it to their friendly neighborhood monster.
Cryptozoologists say the Jersey Devil has kept a very low profile since the early 1900s, but if you go out and talk to the people who live there, you’ll get a completely different opinion. And here’s another shocker – I can’t believe how many folks have first hand Bigfoot encounters in the Pine Barrens. I’ve spoken to quite a few, some of them still visibly upset, even if it happened years ago.
I wonder if this was the Jersey Devil’s idea of a pinata? Maybe she just wanted to throw a party for her horrid offspring.
And speaking of horrid offspring, Pinnacle has discounted all of my books for the month of February. You can snag an ebook of The Montauk Monster for $1.99, The Jersey Devil for 99 cents or Tortures of the Damned for 99 cents. Time to load up those e-readers on the cheap!
What’s the strangest thing ever found on a telephone pole? For me, we threw a Batman figure that had a parachute attached to our phone line. It stayed there for about 10 years, poor Batsy’s color fading with each year.
Over the course of writing The Jersey Devil, the elusive cryptid and I have gotten pretty close. He recently told me, over a cup of what he said was mulled wine, but I suspect it was something far more disquieting, that he wanted to get out and travel the country, if not the world. After over 200 years in the Pine Barrens, it’s time to spread his wings, so to speak.
“There’s just one teensy weensy little problem,” he said to me, tapping his cloven hoof on his chin. “I’m afraid there are too many monster hunters out and about nowadays. You see them bumbling about with their night vision cameras. I fear for my safety as much as my anonymity. The last thing I want is to be featured on some reality paranormal show…or shot!” Shivering, he added, “I don’t know which would be worse.”
Point well taken. We sat against the pygmy pines in the dark of night, contemplating his dilemma. As a cloud obscured the moon and the howl of a nearby Sasquatch got our attention (“Oh, that’s just Larry,” JD said), an idea came to me.
“How would you like to live vicariously through my book?” I asked.
Old JD flicked his tail excitedly. “How so?”
Knowing he’s a big fan of Instagram and Twitter (whereas Bigfoot prefers SnapChat & the Loch Ness Monster is partial to Facebook), I told him that I and my Hellions could take the book wherever we go and post pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #JerseyDevil. That way, he could see the world while in the relative comfort of his forest preserve.
“Oooo, I like that. Can you take me to a cemetery first? I’m so tired of the ones around here. It’s so…so…dead out here in the Barrens.”
The next day, I did just that, taking the book to the oldest cemetery in my city.
He wrote me back immediately on Instagram. “Love it! So nice to see new headstones. Where to next?”
Indeed. Where to next?
That’s where you come in. Help old JD out and tote your copy of The Jersey Devil with you when you’re out and about, on vacation, even in the house puttering around. Post your pic on Instagram using #jerserydevil and @huntershea2017 or Twitter using #JerseyDevil and @huntershea1 so the beast and I can collect and enjoy this little travelogue.
We’ll pick people at random every week to receive free books from the Hunter Shea library!
It’s the holiday season. Be kind to cryptids. And have fun doing it. It will be interesting to see where The Jersey Devil ends up. Plus, it’s always a smart idea to keep a monster happy. You wouldn’t want an angry Jersey Devil tapping on your window late at night, would you? Don’t end up the main ingredient in his ‘mulled wine’. Just saying.
Howdy Hellions, just wanted to let you all know there’s a fun little giveaway running over at Night Owl Reviews where you can win some cold, hard Amazon cash. It’s all to spread the word about The Jersey Devil. The giveaway runs until the end of September.
If you’ve read the book, please leave a brief review on Amazon. If you want to pick up a copy of the book, please buy it through the Amazon link in my bookstore. Both help a lot and keep me writing day and night to give you nightmares or make the little monster in you giggle just a tad. And thank you to everyone who has already gone to the deep corners of the Pine Barrens with me.
Just click the image below to enter the giveaway. Good luck! Hope a Hellion wins.