For lovers of romance novels, there’s a lot more to love with the release of Audible Romance, a new package from the audiobook company that promises subscribers unlimited access to thousands of titles — and tech-savvy ways to jump ahead to the steamy stuff.
If you want more romance in your ears, the package provides access to thousands of romance audiobooks, best sellers and Audible Originals for $6.95 per month as an add-on to an Audible membership. The price is $14.95 per month as a standalone service.
Audible Romance features 32 micro-genres and 122 story and character tropes. The categories touch on seemingly any arena where you might want to hear people breathe heavily: Amish, Colonial, Detective, Dystopian, Gothic, Magic, Scottish, Western and many more.
Listeners can enjoy audio samples — from such celebrity readers as Blair Underwood, Dermot Mulroney and Jesse Metcalfe — before diving into a full story.
Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon, is also taking the wraps off some of the technology it has developed to take the temperature up a few degrees. These include:
- Take me to the good part: A first-of-its-kind feature that allows users to skip to why we all read romance novels anyway. Audible says it’s an oft requested feature from listeners who want to be able to go back or jump forward to their favorite moments. Machine learning technology built by Audible locates areas of a book by scanning for key words, phrases and groups of words, then identifies these sections as “good parts.” Take me to the good part is being launched on over 100 Audible Romance package titles, and will be expanded to more titles over time.
- The steaminess meter: Customers can instantly see a romance title’s level of steaminess. The illustrated meter on each book page ranks titles on a one to five scale: Sweet, Simmering, Sizzling, Hot Damn, and O-O-OMG. Audible’s data science team developed the categorizations by grouping titles included in the Audible Romance package, relative to all Romance titles at Audible. The algorithm scanned each title to look for key words that would trigger a steamy marker, and aggregated the total number of steamy markers to then group the titles. Unlike other steaminess meters, Audible customers are able to see a data-driven, objective score that indicates just how steamy a title will be, the company says.
In the interest of diving further into that data discovery and analyzing it for GeekWire, I went straight to the good parts of a book on the Audible site called “Beneath This Mask,” by Meghan March, bestselling author of other titles including “Real Good Man,” “Dirty Girl” and “Dirty Billionaire,” among others.
The book’s steaminess meter registered “Hot Damn,” and five different good parts are available for listening, each grouped under a different keyword. They include:
- Kiss: Simon takes control of the kiss.
- Sexual tension: Charlie’s body is so tempting.
- Flirty banter: Charlie gives Simon the information he seeks.
- Trouble in Paradise: Simon can’t love Charlie without her trust.
- Proposal: Simon never does what Charlie expects.
The snippets range from about 25 seconds long to just over a minute. Readers Andi Arndt and Holter Graham provide just what I guess I’d be looking for if I went looking for this, with talk of “tangled tongues” and a “woodsy scent” in one sexy part.
In another, a marriage proposal ranks as a good part because the woman accepts it while she’s naked.