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Naxos Spoken Word Library and Streaming in 2011

By Nicolas Soames

1 January 2011

Welcome to 2011, and another year of stimulating listening! For so many of us, listening to the spoken word has become a habit, a way of life, a normal activity, especially when setting out on a journey or a walk.

But market research shows that quite a number of people listen to the spoken word when at home – an increasing number, as it happens. For generations this has been via the radio (!!) though the handicap here is the limitation of personal choice: what happens if there is nothing on we really want to listen to at that moment? Not another cheapo phone-in programme! So we listen to audiobooks, either by downloading it (from this site among others!) to our MP3 players; or by having the full experience with the CD and booklet.

Naxos Spoken Word Library

The Naxos Spoken Word Library

I was at the home of one of the leading UK reviewers the other day, and, not particularly enjoying having earphones attached to her head, she has a boom box CD player which she even takes into the garden with her, listening to The Good Soldier while pruning the roses. Then she also has a booklet she can browse.

But there is another way: streaming. Naxos AudioBooks is the only audiobook company in the world to offer its own streaming service: the Naxos Spoken Word Library. Look at the right hand column of this page, and you will see an icon. Have you ever wondered what it is and clicked on it? Well, have a go!

It is a truly impressive service. Basically, it is a subscription service that allows you to listen/browse ALL the 600+ Naxos AudioBooks recordings 24/7. Yes that’s correct: for one annual payment (not much in the circumstances) you will have access at anytime YOU want to ANY of our titles, as often as you want. You can listen and repeat the listen. You can decide after an hour or so of, say, Bleak House, that you don’t feel like more Dickens for the moment, but you want to listen to Richard Armitage reading Georgette Heyer; or it is raining and your children are BORED! The inimitable Geoffrey Palmer reading Kipling’s Just So Stories is just what they need and will entrance them until suppertime. All at the click of a mouse.

Naxos Spoken Word Library

Disc and track listings

This is the Naxos Spoken Word Library. It has been going for some years. It grew out of the Naxos Music Library, another streaming subscription service which provides an unbelievable range of classical music, again 24/7.

Not only does NSWL provide the audio. With the vast majority of titles, it also provides the texts, which can be read simultaneously. This can be fun for kids (and improve reading skills, and subliminally shows them how actors shape phrases, build characters and present, in a magnificent way, the English language). It can also be used for study for people learning English. Or to deepen their knowledge of English literature. Increasingly, we are asked by purchasers of our CDs for the texts, especially to ‘difficult’ works such as Milton’s Paradise Lost or Dante’s The Divine Comedy or poetry programmes so that they can read while listening. Reading and listening can bring one even more into the heart of a work. If you go on to you get a free 15 minute trial…and you can see how it works, and how easy it is to navigate around even a long book.

Of course, there is the crucial bookmark facility, so that you can listen and bookmark where you are, enabling you to return to the same spot at another time.

While you are there you will notice we have even a German audiobook section – with Heine and Goethe and others; and even a self-help corner!

Naxos Spoken Word Library

Streaming audio player and script

And you don’t need to be tied to a computer to access the NSWL. There is now a NSWL app which enables you to listen via your iPhone! This is very slick and works extremely well indeed – including bookmarking. And of course you can access it while sitting in a coffee bar with WiFi access. For streaming needs WiFi. At home, this would come via the computer. Or it could be via the iPhone and a dock: friends of mine do this all the time, with a dock in the bedroom and a dock in the kitchen. This frees one from being limited where the computer is. It even works with 3G, though WiFi is more reliable. An Android app exists for Naxos Music Library, and one will come for Naxos AudioBooks in the near future.

If you are new to the concept of streaming, this takes a bit of getting used to. But it is becoming a common way of doing things, being the method that Spotify uses. Our home systems are not yet completely joined up. It takes a bit of plugging in wires to buy and download a movie or an audio file from the web and put it on the hi-fi or television. This is coming. But even in the meantime, a streaming service certainly offers many advantages: there is the wide range of choice, the ability to switch programmes at will, and being available 24/7. And it works out as a considerable saving – for a one-off payment you can be entertained all year.

Give it a go!

Nicolas Soames

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