Audiobooks are very much in demand; however, not all books can be easily turned into audio. For example, tutorial / educational audio books are great to listen to while commuting, but they are not always easy to convey in audio if they contain lots of tables and graphics.
The most obvious way to get round this is to create an audio-visual version of them (videos). However, this is a different format and different market sector to audiobooks.
The best way to convey graphics, charts and pictures in audio books is to create a separate PDF file to accompany the audio. Each graphic element can be labelled, figure 1, figure 2 etc. and referenced by the narrator. For example, in the case of a book explaining body language the narrator may have explained a technique for reading body language and may say something like… “For further information on this please see figure 6 on page 4 of the accompanying PDF”.
How does the listener get the additional information?
Download – If the audio book product was supplied as a download then the PDF document can be included as part of the download. The narrator can simply instruct the listener to locate the PDF by name.
Audio CD – Audio CD’s can be created in such a way that they play audio and can be used on a computer too. The additional non-audio content can be added to a directory on the CD and the listener instructed to insert the CD into a computer to retrieve the additional information.
Secret URL – A secret URL is simply a basic webpage that can only be accessed if you know where it is. By hosting your additional content online you can instruct the listener to go to the secret page to view graphics and illustrations or download them as PDFs or other files. Your secret URL may be a hidden directory on your books website. i.e. www.mywebsite.com/audiobookfiles
Booklet – Providing a simple booklet is a low tech way of providing additional information and is an ideal option if the audiobook is CD based. A small reference booklet can be added to the CD case.
Books that contain lots of illustrations and graphics may be impossible to convey in audio, but I believe there are many books that could benefit from being turned into audio versions.
Hopefully, this has given you some ideas on how to include graphic elements in a narration and feel free to leave your views / experiences.