War of the Kindle Audiobooks

Audible Tournment of Audiobooks trophy

Amazon Books shared a surprising announcement this week. On Facebook, they’re publicizing the “5th Annual Tournament of Audiobooks!” It’s a head-to-head competition to determine which audiobook is the most popular — as determined by an online vote. The tournament will be conducted by Audible.com — the audiobook service that Amazon purchased in 2008 — and they’ve structured the competition like the “March madness” playoffs…complete with brackets!

You can check out all the action at audible.com/tournament — but Audible also shared a very interesting announcement about the 32 audiobooks. You can download their first chapters for free!

You can listen to the audiobooks or their sample chapters on any Kindle (except the newest $79 Kindle) — and it’s quite a selection. Audible’s selected the “contending” audiobooks from four different categories — including “customer favorites”, best-sellers, the “critically acclaimed” audiobooks, and their editors’ picks. You can also listen to the audiobooks (or their sample chapters) on Audible apps, which are available for the Android devices, the iPhone, iPod Touch, and Blackberry devices. Here’s a complete list of the 32 audibooks that are competing this year to become “the Champion of Audiobooks.”

Bossypants by Tina Fey (narrated by Tina Fey)
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (narrated by Dylan Baker)
11-22-63 by Stephen King (Narrated by Craig Wasson)
The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly (narrated by Peter Giles)
The Litigators by John Grisham (narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris)
Against All Enemies by Tom Clancy (narrated by Steven Weber)
A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five by George R. R. Martin (narrated by Roy Dotrice)

Dead Reckoning: Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #11 by Charlaine Harris (narrated by Johanna Parker)

Customer Favorites
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (narrated by Wil Wheaton)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (narrated by Jim Dale)
The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon (narrated by Davina Porter)
Relic: Pendergast, Book 1 by Douglas Preston (narrated by David Colacci)
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper (narrated by Amanda Ronconi)

Helter Skelter: the True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry (narrated by Scott Brick)

The Wise man’s Fear: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2 by Patrick Rothfuss (narrated by Nick Podehl)

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (narrated by Jennifer Ikeda)

Editor’s Picks
Just Kids by Patti Smith (narrated by Patti Smith)
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (narrated by Hope Davis)
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (narrated by Rebecca Lowman)
My Dog Tulip by J. R. Ackerley (narrated by Ralph Cosham)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (narrated by Sarah Drew)

Solaris: the Definitive Edition by Stanislaw Lem, Bill Johnson (narrated by Alessandro Juliani)

The Psychopath Test: a Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson (narrated by Jon Ronson)

The Informationist: A Thriller by Taylor Stevens (narrated by Hillary Huber)

Critically Acclaimed
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (narrated by David Pittu)
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (narrated by Richard Morant)
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (narrated by Holter Graham)

Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva (narrated by Jeff Woodman, Bruce DeSilva)

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (narrated by Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, Mark Boyett)

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (narrated by Stephen Greenblatt)

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (narrated by Jenna Larmia, Cassandar Campbell, Kirby Heyborne)

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (narrated by Susan Duerden, Robin Sachs)

And the first round of voting has already begun! Audible created a special web page for the tournament (at audible.com/tournament ) for casting votes, warning participants that the first-round votes must be received by next Monday, March 26th. And to pump up the excitement, they’ve even filmed some funny videos about the online competition. (Watch the videos online at tinyurl.com/AudiobookBrackets

I have to admit, it looks like everyone’s having a lot of fun. Like a real sportscast, it’s got its own flashy intro music with synthesized drums, seguing into the roar of a cheering crowd and two faux sportscasters covering all the action. “This is the Stanley Cup of digital audiobooks,” barks announcer Jake Jacobson. “Every week for the next five weeks, the top audiobooks will face off in single-elimination match-ups, right here at audible.com/tournament…

“And with eight seeds in each region, you can expect non-stop, run-and-gun action.”

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