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Author Podcast: Our Review of B&N Author Podcasts

abstract: While satellite Internet has come to the farm, the rest of my audio gear didn't. So instead of processing one of our own author interviews as the feature podcast this week, I've instead scanned the web for sources of other people's author interviews to share with you. (Don't forget our past BB Podcasts) Let's begin with Barnes and Noble. You might think that B&N is just a brick and mortar chain store selling books. But they have an impressive website with all the latest technology applications. Why not listen to a favorite author or discover someone new by downloading a B&N "One on One: Meet the Author" podcast from their series? Each interview lasts about 30 minutes—enough time to get into sufficient depth and still hold the listener's interest. Online browsers are famously capricious. I scanned the list to find authors I know, and of course took a special interest in the interviewer's style. (Hey, it's my summer vacation - might as well learn something!) Here's what I discovered.


August 20, 2009
— The listener wants to hear the author speak so keep introductory comments and bio summaries succinct. Check. It helps to have a pleasant or interesting voice. Check. An intro with music adds polish. Check. So far the BookBuffet podcasts are adding up. It's important to have a good knowledge base of the author's life and work(s) so that you can ask in-depth questions that dig deeper than the obvious and the cliché, like "What's on your reading table?" and "What is your writing technique?" Ugh. I want to hear a back and forth banter that reveals something about the author that helps me to enjoy or understand their work and how their life intersects with it. Join me in sampling a few of the B&N author interviews.

I started off typing in Barnes and Noble author interview into my itunes search box. It returned this url a series of interviews posted as, "One on One". Most podcasts are available in mp3 format, (mp4 is the video format) or you can subscribe to their RSS feed, which uses XML. All you need is Internet access, an audio player application or log-on access to an account such as itunes, if they post their interviews beyond their own website.

The first one I clicked on was an interview of James Lipton by host Katherine Langford, whose voice I recognized from NPR as a radio journalist. Her style and introduction of the speaker are some of my favorite examples of broadcast commentary. She begins by saying, "Here is what you know about James Lipton... " She lists the celebrity interviewer's kudos. This is followed by, "... and here is what you don't know about James Liption..." and she discloses her fascinating background research. Together it gives the listener better insight into her guest, but it also locks the listener in to the remaining interview.

The next podcast with best-selling author Anne Patchett is introduced by talking about the author's first book, Bell Canto and summarizing her popular and critical accolades. Next she gives a plot summary of her widely anticipated new book, Run. The rest of the interview is a discussion of that book in detail with Patchet. What I love most about author interviews is hearing the timbre of the author's voice, followed by their insights into their characters and what was going on in thier lives as they wrote the book. I like to see the way they handle questions extemporanously.

Barnes and Noble Writers: This is another access point with a familiar website feel. It lists authors both literary, iconic, pulp and controversial: Garrison Keiller, Joyce Carol Oates, Jackie Collins and James Frey - take your pick. The most annoying part is having to use Windows Media Player (if you're not a Microsoft fan and prefer another player such as Real Audio).

Wobegon Boy, by Garrison Keiller
Blonde: A Novel, by Joyce Carol Oates
Chances by Jackie Collins
A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey



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