- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The next time you borrow an audio book from the library, flip over the jacket, read it carefully, and you may be surprised to learn the particular item you’re holding was produced right here in Prince Frederick.
What the jacket cover won’t tell you, but I learned on my Traveling Apprentice assignment at Recorded Books, is that when the creator of RB started the company in the late ’70s to fill hours of road time with something other than radio listening, audio books were all the company offered. Now RB offers many other products to libraries and educational systems, such as its RB digital plan, a program where subscribing libraries can offer their patrons free, via computer or smart devices the ability to view or download thousands of items through features such as One Click Digital (more than 20,000 downloadable audiobook titles), Zinio Digital Magazines (complete copies of thousands of current magazines), Rdio digital music (more than 12 million songs available, anytime/anywhere), Universal Class (more than 500 online continuing education classes) and other digital features. With more than 8,000 unabridged audio book titles available on cassette, CD and Playaways, however, RB still maintains one of the biggest retail presences in downloadable audios.
RB books are narrated by professional actors with years of stage or screen experience at state-of-the-art recording studios in New York City. Through RB’s “imprint” program, actor’s voices are paired with appropriate genres, i.e., a Western accent with a Western novel. RB’s imprint categories included Western, Southern, romance, inspirational and others. The imprint series also includes Maple Leaf, stories by Canadian authors, and the Griot Audio series, which is unabridged audio recordings of the work of leading African-American authors. Griot Audio takes its name from “griot,” a West African poet and wandering musician credited with keeping oral traditions alive.
A book’s content is edited to ensure text-to-audio accuracy before the content is sent to the Prince Frederick facility, the production and distribution nerve center of the company where robotic equipment burns 2 million to 3 million CDs a year. Since major publishers retain the rights to their books’ cover art, graphic designers at the Prince Frederick facility must often create original art for RB audio book covers. Designers strive to create art that has a similar feel to the print book jacket work. Ultimately, RB’s artwork must be approved by the publisher. All of the parts of the audio book CDs, plastic jackets, art covers are assembled into a final package before the book joins thousands of other books on shelves in warehouses.
My assignment: pulling books from warehouse shelves to fill orders. I admit it, I salivated when I realized I was about to be turned loose in a warehouse filled with thousands of books ranging from classics to brand-new titles by bestselling authors, titles so new they were marked with official “not-to-be-released-before” publishing dates on their jacket covers. I knew I’d have to focus on the task at hand because this was a bibliophile’s heaven.
Eureka! So many books! So little time!
Carolyn McHugh is the president and CEO of the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at email@example.com.