Notice: Important information about COVID-19 here.

Have you listened to any good books lately?

By Dale Johnson Posted: August 5, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Dr. Howard Leeson was signing copies of his biography of Grant Notley earlier this year at the federal NDP convention in Edmonton.
Dr. Howard Leeson was signing copies of his biography of Grant Notley earlier this year at the federal NDP convention in Edmonton. Photo courtesy of University of Alberta Press

A book that came out almost 25 years ago will soon be available as an audiobook, so people can listen to it.

Dr. Howard Leeson, adjunct professor and professor emeritus of Political Science at the University of Regina, wrote a biography of Grant Notley, former NDP leader in Alberta, in 1992.

Leeson had been Notley’s executive assistant, and later moved to Regina where he taught Political Science at the U of R and was an advisor to NDP Premier Roy Romanow.

Notley died in a plane crash in 1984. His daughter, Rachel, was elected Premier of Alberta in May 2015.

Leeson’s publisher, the University of Alberta Press, re-issued the book last fall with a new introduction by Leeson and a preface by the current Premier – and now has decided to offer it as an audiobook.

“A biography of an interesting person is often timeless. In this case, the second edition is also timely, with the election of Mr. Notley’s daughter, Rachel Notley, as Premier of Alberta,” explains Cathie Crooks, Associate Director and Manager of Planning and Operations at U of A Press.

And deciding to produce an audiobook is rare indeed.

“We have only ever done one other audiobook, and that was years ago – back when audiobooks were still on cassette tapes,” says Crooks.

“With the streaming technology available for these larger files, audiobooks are becoming more popular and also more widely available,” she says.

That means anyone who prefers listening to reading – including commuters, travellers, and the visually impaired – can hear books. As well, some people like to listen to books while doing chores, exercising or engaged in their hobbies.

Crooks says work has already begun on producing the audio version of Leeson’s book.

“In this case, we are doing a pilot project organized by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta. They are working with readers from the CNIB and using their facilities to record the books.”

Leeson says having his biography of Notley offered as an audiobook “is very gratifying since it is being produced in conjunction with the CNIB. It is the kind of thing that Grant would have been extremely proud of.”

Crooks expects the audio version of Leeson’s biography of Grant Notley will be available in about four months.