Tag Archives: Recorded Books

Audiobook of the Week: The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck

Audiobooks are ebooks. Listening is learning. In an effort to raise awareness among readers and all who work with books about the versatility of digital literacy, NSR occasionally publishes audiobook reviews of titles of exceptional quality to draw attention to the subtle (but consistent) ways in which formats are blurring in digital environments.
This week’s pick is John Steinbeck’s The Short Reign of Pippin IV. In the words of NSR reviewer, “with current headlines, this political screwball comedy will be much appreciated.”

Z04217_image_148x230[1]Title: The Short Reign of Pippin IV
Author: John Steinbeck
Narrator: Jefferson Mays
Publisher: Recorded Books
Release Date: 2016

Duration: 4 hours

Reviewed for NSR by Michael Rogers (Babylon, New York)


John Steinbeck often tackles the affairs of the common man and the political climate that impacts him, but usually in a serious tone (The Grapes of Wrath isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs). This 1957 novel also incorporates those themes, but Steinbeck shows a different side of himself by presenting them in a wicked satire so biting that Jonathan Swift would be envious.

Protagonist Pippin Héristal is an amateur astronomer who spends most of his mundane existence listening to jazz and photographing the heavens through his telescope (he discovered the comet of ’51, you know!) in his Paris eighth-arrondissement home with little concern for the machinations of his fellow men. Allowing her husband his lackadaisical manner, wife Marie is a practical woman who maintains an orderly house, abhors waste, and keeps a firm grip on the family income provided by their property on which grapes producing a fine, much-desired wine are grown. Their daughter Clotilde is an anomaly—at 15 she wrote a novel that became a sensation and was morphed into a film. Instant fame paved the way for her to take to the stage and tour America. Clotilde does everything to the extreme. She is pretty but fat, a communist, clumsy and an American by osmosis. They live simply, quietly, and anonymously…or at least did.

It’s the year “19-blank” and France is in a funk; it’s greatness as a world leader has waned as its government increasingly is bogged down in never-ending bickering between the sundry ridiculous political parties—the Radical Conservatives and Conservative Radicals, the Right Centralists and the Left Centralists, the Christian Atheists, etc.—that disagree on everything to the point where leadership and progress are strangled.

The politicos decide that to reclaim France’s former glory the country must reinstate the monarchy, but who will wear the crown? Alas, poor Pippin is several generation descended from Charlemagne long rotting in the ground, and as he is a reasonable fellow, he retired to bed a commoner and awakens a king! While a king’s job is to rule, those who appointed him in reality only want the pomp and circumstance of a monarch (it makes good newspaper copy and brings in money from across the world) without actually having him in charge. Dragged off to live in Versailles (hot, dirty, full of freeloaders endlessly eating and drinking, bad plumbing, and snooty servants that bow and curtsy graciously and then completely ignore their orders) that life for Pippin becomes an astronomical pain in the ass. Marie endures with grace while Clotilde’s outrageous personality makes her a natural princess.

Pippin and Marie turn to their closest friends for council—for Pippin it’s his uncle Charlie, a shady art dealer who sells unsigned paintings that “might” be the work of a master (and might be cheap fakes) while Marie seeks solace from Sister Hyacinth, a former topless chorus girl who joined a religious order founded by the patron saint of feet!

Poor Pippin is so miserable and out of his depth that he begins taking kingly advice from Clotilde’s teenage boyfriend Tod Johnson, son of the American “Egg King of Petaluma,” whose dad built a multimillion dollar empire in chickens. Tod asserts that monarchs essentially are CEOs and that Pippin must run France like a corporation, including selling nobleman titles to rich Americans to generate bribe money. Everyone is making a quick buck of the new monarchy while the king himself has to sneak out in disguise and putt around the countryside on his scooter just to get a meal!

Steinbeck piles on the irony, sarcasm, and laughs—all the political parties claim to want what’s best for France when they really want what’s best for themselves and screw the other guy. Narrator Jefferson Mays delivers a perfect reading, breathing life into the characters and emphasizing the biting humor with just the right amount of a French accent when needed.

With current headlines, this political screwball comedy will be much appreciated.

Special thank you to Michael Rogers, former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal, for contributing this and other audio reviews to NSR. Publishers/producers interested in getting their (newly released) audiobooks reviewed on NSR should contact Michael directly at mermsr@optimum.net.

Recorded Books and iVerse Media Form Exclusive Partnership to Deliver Digital Comics and Graphic Novels to Libraries

Libraries using any ILS can now offer seamless access to an exclusive collection of more than 10,000 digital comics, graphic novels and manga on all major mobile devices and desktop systems

PRINCE FREDERICK, MD – June 22, 2015 – Through an exclusive partnership, Recorded Books and iVerse Media will offer libraries and their patrons access to a selection of more than 10,000 digital comics, graphic novels and manga titles both inside the library and remotely.

This partnership gives Recorded Books’ international sales team the exclusive right to sell Comics Plus: Library Edition (CP:LE) to public libraries in the United States and Canada. The Comics Plus product allows libraries to make the most diverse and unique content available to their patrons. As a result of this new partnership, libraries will have the flexibility to offer these titles either in a traditional desktop environment or via a mobile application for smartphones and tablets. Continue reading Recorded Books and iVerse Media Form Exclusive Partnership to Deliver Digital Comics and Graphic Novels to Libraries

OCLC and Recorded Books agree to new partnership through NetLibrary

OCLC and Recorded Books have signed an agreement under which Recorded Books eAudiobooks will continue to be available to libraries through NetLibrary.

Bob Murphy +1-614-761-5136

Recorded Books will introduce new eAudiobook collections
to libraries through OCLC’s eContent platform

DUBLIN, Ohio, September 12, 2008—OCLC and Recorded Books have signed an agreement under which Recorded Books eAudiobooks will continue to be available to libraries through NetLibrary, OCLC’s platform for eContent.

Under the agreement, OCLC and Recorded Books will market Recorded Books eAudiobooks in North America and other regions around the world.  OCLC and Recorded Books will continue to offer eAudiobook subscriptions and will work together to deliver new products and packages to meet the needs of individual libraries and library groups.

OCLC and Recorded Books settled a contract dispute in November 2007 and agreed at that time that OCLC would market Recorded Books eAudiobooks through August 2008 and service contracts through August 2009.  The new agreement extends and expands the partnership.

“This new agreement will provide continuity to libraries that currently offer their patrons high-quality downloadable eAudiobooks from OCLC and Recorded Books,” said Chip Nilges, OCLC Vice President, Business Development.  “OCLC and Recorded Books are committed to providing libraries with outstanding new eContent services, plans and packages in a new user-friendly environment.”

In October 2008, OCLC plans to release the NetLibrary Media Center, a downloadable application that patrons and libraries will use to manage and access their content.  The new Media Center will offer personalization features and advanced search and browse capabilities.

“We are excited about the broad range of patron-friendly content which we will be able to offer libraries,” said Matt Walker, Recorded Books Vice President, Sales and Marketing.  “Our customers will benefit greatly from the partnership created by Recorded Books’ commitment to quality audio books and OCLC’s commitment to excellence in its digital products.”

Together, OCLC and Recorded Books provide eAudiobooks to more than 500 libraries and 16 library groups.

For more information about Recorded Books eAudiobooks from OCLC, send e-mail to libservices@oclc.org or customerservice@recordedbooks.com.

About OCLC

Founded in 1967 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC is a nonprofit library service and research organization that has provided computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, eContent, preservation, library management and Web services to 60,450 libraries in 112 countries and territories.  OCLC and its member libraries worldwide have created and maintain WorldCat, the world’s richest online resource for finding library materials.  For more information, visit www.oclc.org.

OCLC NetLibrary provides content and technical delivery solutions to institutional libraries, corporations and government agencies that facilitate the purchase, management and distribution of research, reference, digital learning and general interest content via Web-based technologies.  NetLibrary’s eContent solution is the most broadly adopted in the market, making more than 170,000 eBooks, 6,000 eJournals, 7,500 eAudiobooks, and 83 databases available through more than 16,000 libraries worldwide. For more information, visit www.oclc.org/netlibrary/.

About Recorded Books

Recorded Books, a Haights Cross Communications company, produces and distributes unabridged audiobooks and other audio products to public and university libraries and schools, in cassette, CD, and downloadable formats.  Over 7,000 titles are available for adults, children, and young adults in English and Spanish languages narrated by professional, award-winning actors.  Recorded Books also distributes music, educational lectures, independent films, and nonfiction films on DVD.  Packaging is designed for high circulation. One-year warranty, cataloging, processing, and free MARC records are available.  For more information, visit www.recordedbooks.com.