The narrator’s voice is Wanes … Do we prefer to listen to books rather than read them?

Mai left free reading and writing, under the pressure of high school requirements, which would determine her academic, and then professional, fate.

Mai is a girl who likes to read, sometimes writes, whether articles published on various press websites or novels, and her first work was published in 2021, entitled: “Swallow .. Stories that are not affected by repetition. ”

As a result of that departure, her psychological condition worsened, until she found an outlet in the YouTube channels, which was like a poem by Sid, which led her to a magical portal open to literature, without leaving her studies. to influence.

“I became acquainted with the BookTube channel with the (Storytell) application, which at the time offered the free offer for a month for those who wanted to try it.” Mai says, then curiosity made her take advantage of the offer.

But other reasons were behind her immersion in that world, as she could more easily listen to books while walking in the street or sitting in the transportation. She says: “I found in the voice of the narrator of books and a pleasant melody, especially since those in charge of the project choose a suitable narrator for the work presented, so I was impressed with the narrator’s interactions with the story, and smile or grieve along with the story.

The director of business development in the Middle East and North Africa at StoryTel Company, Ahmed Ruwaihel, says that the emergence of the era of mobile applications, through which books can be heard, has led to a boom in the field of audio books, as individual initiatives appeared at the beginning, such as the “Audiobook” initiative.In 2011, this was followed by the pioneering Egyptian experience of its time, which is “Read for Me”.

According to Rweihel, these efforts did not have a significant impact, as these initiatives did not have a large investment, and therefore there must be someone who believes in the extent of the content’s impact on human life, and also that it is a long-term investment is. , and it was achieved in 2016, with the entry of the “Kitab” company My Voice “into the market, with the intention of creating the largest audiobook platform in the Arab world, serving nearly 400 million Arabs.

How do you make an audio library?

Mai Qassem, who is now a fourth-year student at the Faculty of Engineering, says she enjoys listening to novels as well as biographical books, adding: “I remember the experience of hearing Najat al-Saghira’s book and her life story. It was a very beautiful and entertaining thing. I tried to listen to self-development books, but I did not understand that I enjoyed the novels and true stories. ”

Although Mai does not accept self-development books, a study by dr. Magdy Abdel-Gawad El-Jaki, Assistant Professor of Libraries and Information in the Department of Libraries and Information, Faculty of Arts, Benha University, confirmed that it is most listened to in Egypt, especially the books of the late Dr. Ibrahim El -Feki, expert in human development.

The price of one paper book that enables you to listen to thousands of audiobooks, in the era of economic crises, and to listen to yourself, especially novels and biographies, is beautiful and entertaining … says the author Mai, do do you agree with her?

The results of the study, conducted on a random sample of 600 people, between the ages of 11 and 75, indicated that “both sexes listen to audiobooks with a slight increase for women, and that the unmarried people are the weakest was, and most of the listeners were young people, and most of them were twenty years old, and that Most of the listeners were university qualified, so were most of their employees, and urbanites were 3 times more than their rural counterparts.

This diversity in the taste of the Arab listener made us wonder how the platforms created their audio library, or rather, how the book was selected and recorded.

Hossam Nader, the contracting officer for one of the audiobook applications, sees differences between the newspaper and audio publisher.

As for the audio publisher, his situation is different: he communicates directly with the publishers, sees what they have and then selects them according to the needs of the audio library.

Nader says that in the first years of work, their main goal was to provide a comprehensive library of Arabic audiobooks, which means that it includes several books, with all classifications, whether new works, or other history and self-development books, business books and biographies.

And he continued, “Of course, we choose from books that paper publishers have already implemented, because we sign contracts with companies, because they often have the required legal documents, which are rarely present individually to the author, in addition to not having to start from scratch in the industry does not start “the book”.

The process of making an audiobook does not depend on selection. There are other stages, such as choosing the narrator, “where we try to find the right narrator with more than one voice, after which the rehearsal phase begins, and there are a reference following to him during the recording to correct language errors. And also the sound engineer. ”

Mai Qassem believes that audiobooks are more money-saving, which means that the price of a paper book may enable you to own thousands of audiobooks, but she also sees the disadvantages of an audiobook, that it fits a certain number of pages, so it’s hard to listen to a 17-hour book, so some platforms have searched. It has recently produced works written specifically for audio publication, with standards different from those of a paper book.

These works are determined based on various data, such as the most searched words, or in response to listeners’ requests.

Writing for audio publishing requires different standards of writing, related to language, narrative, and paragraph transition.

Mustafa Al-Talwani, the literary editor at Kitab Sawti, says that audio writing first addresses and opens the gates of the listener’s imagination through the ear, and that the writer’s task in audio text is more difficult, more difficult, and more enjoyable than reading written writing. .

Al-Talwani adds that the author of the audio text “should steal the listener’s attention from the first minute, because the listener is bored and is often distracted by a million things he does, and it is very easy to to close the application. if he feels that he is not focused enough or does not enjoy what he hears, unlike the average reader who may be patient for a number of the pages on the book and his focus is all sharpened for the book in his hand. ”

The literary editor points out that the process of “setting the pace of the text” requires mastery and high mastery of the author, in addition to awareness, and a very sensitive sensitivity to each area in the text. He says: “He knows when to speed up the rhythm, when to use description and when to resort to ambiguity or tension. Like writing a series or an audio novel, for example.

Mustafa Al-Talwani began his work as an audiobook editor since 2018, during which time he worked on a number of projects, the most important of which was the “The Elephant” podcast, the first part for mental health awareness, and “An Unknown Party”. a social crime series, and other documentary and biographical audio episodes.

Mustafa emphasizes that audio writing is a collective work rather than an individual one, “where the writer, editor and reader participate, who through his voice can communicate the text with the intention and meaning of it to the listener, or influence its execution. and change the meaning of the text read. ”

Due to the former Corona, and the Russo-Ukrainian war currently in early 2022, and its effects on purchasing power and supply chains, the paper book industry has experienced many problems, including the obstacle of raw material imports, and also the disruption of the transportation network between countries and some of them, and people’s fears for the future have contributed to the decline in power Purchases for paperback.

The challenges of the paperbook were success opportunities for its audio counterpart, Ahmed Rowaihel, director of business development in the Middle East at StoryTel, says that “After Corona, the audiobook has become a new medium that does not require people to go to libraries, in addition to the payment method that fits The repercussions of the epidemic, especially after the rise of the call not to trade cash so that the virus does not spread, and for me it was an opportunity because the financial inclusion that Egypt and most countries of the world, will help people pay contributions easily.

“The emergence of the era of mobile applications, through which books can be heard, is the latest boom in the field of audio books, and after Corona it has become a new medium.” Are paper books threatened with decline and oblivion?

“All these reasons have helped to grow the audiobook significantly, not only in Egypt but in the world. During the Corona period, the audiobook growth rate exceeded 40%, and the audiobook consumption rate in the Arab region became 400%.”

However, just as the Corona crisis provided an opportunity for the growth of the audiobook, it also presented some challenges. The general closure of recording studios.

According to Roehl, luck played a big role. The companies had a large stock of unreleased registered books that helped overcome the crisis with the greatest success.

If the future is for the audiobook, Roehl says, it remains a supplement to paperback, not a substitute for it.

“If we look at the growth figures for audio and paper books in the recent period worldwide, we will find that there has been a significant increase in the economic growth rate of audio and electronic books, without affecting the stability of paper-based growth.”

“Even if the growth of the audiobook is much higher, it does not take the share of the paperbook,” he adds.

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