My recently published biography David Livingstone: Missionary, Explorer, Abolitionist is now available in audiobook format as well. It can be ordered at Audible.com.
If you’re interested, here’s the brief backstory to the production of this audiobook, including my part in the process:
In addition to producing a handsome hardbound edition and a handy e-book edition of this comprehensive new Livingstone biography, the book’s publisher Christian Focus Publications desired to make the volume available in an audio format as well. Increasing numbers of people listen to books while simultaneously carrying out other activities rather than taking the time to sit down and actually read them. Especially given the considerable length of this Livingstone biography, some people will happily listen to such a long work who otherwise might not tackle the reading of it.
The Livingstone audiobook is complete and unabridged, including the volume’s introduction, chapters, epilogue and appendix in their entirety. As with other audiobooks, of course, this one does not include some of the helpful features found in the paper and e-book editions of the work—the table of contents with easily accessible dates included, extensive footnotes and bibliography sources to provide substantiation for what is presented, and a helpful index for locating key people and places in the tome.
Audible.com indicates the Livingstone audiobook is 56 hours long. One of my daughters, who usually listens to audiobooks at a slightly accelerated speed, informs me the work runs 50 hours at that increased pace. Either way, the audio version will provide listeners with the complete Livingstone narrative. Whether people are listening to or actually reading the book, I predict they’ll become engaged by and propelled through it by the many interesting, significant and beneficial aspects of Livingstone’s life and service.
Early this year Christian Focus (CFP) contacted me about possibly narrating the Livingstone audiobook. I was interested in doing so and submitted a sample reading to CFP. The publisher arranged for me to receive three initial training sessions from David Shepherd, a professional book narrator who lives in England. (Much more about David’s skilled narrating and other helpful advisory services can be found by searching online for “David Shepherd Audiobook Services”.)
David very patiently and positively coached me through the basics of using Audacity technology to record the book, plus provided me with tips about what recording equipment to purchase and how to soundproof my office for use as a temporary recording studio. Throughout the entire recording and editing process in the months that followed, David kindly continued to provide me with further guidance, primarily concerning various Audacity technology issues that kept cropping up every now and again.
David also did the final editing of my recorded files after I finished my editing of them. He had the advanced equipment and know-how to further improve what I was able to produce. But unfortunately there was only so much he could do toward improving the files I had produced. Any remaining flaws are the result of my work not his.
David’s willingness to do the final editing of these audio files not only improved the quality of them, but also sped up the editing process and allowed it to be completed around the same time the print and e-book editions of the book were released. No doubt David would have had the final edits completed much sooner, but he could only progress at the rate I was able to get my edited files to him. Still, happily the audiobook edition has become available just a few short weeks after the print and e-book versions.
I went into this project thinking it might take me around 75 hours to complete the initial recording of the book then about that same amount of time to edit the recorded chapters. I had no way of knowing that I would actually spend over 730 hours through an 18-week period recording the volume and completing my part of the editing process.
One of the most challenging and time-consuming aspects of recording the book for me was researching how to pronounce the more than 700 words and phrases that I wasn’t familiar with. The vast majority of those were proper names of people and places in Africa, Britain and elsewhere. Often I would spend several minutes or longer trying to determine the “correct” pronunciation of a particular word or phrase. That process was complicated by differing ways of pronouncing the same word in American, British or South African English. Sometimes I found no help at all in how to pronounce certain names so had to take my best educated guess. Doubtless I made some pronunciation mistakes along the way. But I think most of my pronunciations are acceptable, especially given the differences in pronunciation already mentioned.
This was my first attempt at narrating an audiobook. It was a massive and rather complex project to have as one’s first narration endeavor. And we were working with some definite time constraints in terms of when the edited recording needed to be completed. Consequently, the final product does have a few periodic features I’m not entirely satisfied with. But I think (and am told by others) that the quality of the recording is good overall.
I am grateful to God that through this audiobook many more people will become familiar with David Livingstone’s highly-significant life and ministry, and will benefit from his outstanding example and perspectives. May God greatly use the book in its print and audio formats to bring glory to Himself and much profit to countless people.
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Here’s a link to the information the publisher has posted online about the Livingstone biography: https://www.christianfocus.com/products/3110/david-livingstone
Copyright 2023 by Vance E. Christie