Dinlebi (literally "Listen up") is an audiobook platform that started life as a local initiative presenting the works of famous authors with narrations from some of the country's best-loved voice actors.
The platform, which set out with the goal of changing readers' experience of audiobooks, consists of hundreds of modern and classical works from all genres, from literature to social science. The application appeals to all, with group membership available for families and friends as well as individual membership, and offers users the option to add notes with their own voices.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) about the details of the application, Dinlebi Project Coordinator Ethem Şallı said the platform set out to further enlarge an area with limited options and content. He stated that Dinlebi would be distinctive as it offered an experience and content suitable for the culture and habits of the land where it originated.
“Indeed, Turkish literature is mostly based on oral culture. Bard culture has been the main literary trend of this terrain. Turkish thinker and poet Yunus Emre did not have a publisher. Likewise, other poets Karacaoğlan and Pir Sultan are literary figures whose works have been transmitted from people to people with oral tradition.” Şallı added.
The coordinator pointed out that reading on an individual basis was a common bourgeois activity beginning in the 19th century and onward. “There was a need for a platform to support greater contact with books as opposed to presenting the individual reading practice as the only dominant option. We started working with this idea. We have launched the application as a result of more than one year of planning of experience, content and marketing. We have made our road map and plans for the coming period, and we will continue to develop it quickly according to a schedule,” Şallı said.
Emphasizing that they aim to offer a wide variety of content to listeners on the platform, Şallı noted: “We will also voice short and powerful texts that can be consumed quickly. We maintained our priority of being a local enterprise while deciding on the name. We have branded the Turkish word, 'listen' as an essence. In fact, in saying 'Dinlebi,' we have also included a call in an intimate tone that everyone uses in our brand.”
Explaining that the audiobook sector had only recently started to develop in Turkey, Şallı stated: “Britain, the U.S. and Northern Europe, in particular, have come a long way in this regard. Therefore, expectations of audiobook applications in the world and their similarities to each other are easily accessible information. However, there are nuances that distinguish the Turkish people from others, and to capture them and to offer solutions both in experience and in content accordingly is the most fundamental thing that will make us stand out. We are one of the top countries in terms of the use of social applications. That is why we have developed the ‘press-share’ feature for Dinlebi. This is the first and only application to do so. Thus, when you listen to the book, you can record what you would call the most crucial part of it by pressing a button in the player and sharing it directly on your Instagram and Facebook story.”
According to Şallı, while listening to a book in the application, “ambient sound” can be added, and so, the reader can feel more immersed in the story with various sounds like those of trains, the sea, rain and a fireplace depending on the subject.
Şallı noted that the platform came into being as a result of negotiations with more than 20 leading publishing houses in Turkey, ending in the formation of an attractive business model for publishing houses that would increase their content quickly.
Touching on editorial preferences, Şallı said: “Of course, we have a certain vision and a data-centric orientation in this regard. But we do not want to fall for the mistake made by the distributors in the printed publishing sector. For this reason, we created a more egalitarian and pluralist platform that gives us the opportunity to include the knowledge, intuition and brainpower of publishers in our content curation.”
He continued that they were currently working with nearly 100 voice actors, and each of them was scored in many categories such as experience, voice color and timbre and reading performances, and matched with the content in the production schedule.
Pointing out that they recorded the readings in their own studio, Şallı explained the sound recording process: “The voice actor works on the book before they come to our studio while our sound engineer manages the technical recording process. Our reading coach checks both intonations and text accuracy and comments during the voicing. The finished and combined recording is listened to from the beginning by our quality controller, who is never involved in the previous process. Recording starts again if necessary in response to both technical issues and reading comments. Technically, our records are kept to international standards. But above all, the issue we care about is to avoid losing the naturalness of the record.”
Underlining that audiobooks are never an alternative to reading books, or a substitute for printed books or e-books, Şallı said: “We have never seen it that way, and we do not approach our work that way either. For instance, the application can add value to the time spent in traffic by urban people who want to read but cannot spend as much time on books as they want.”
The platform offers an opportunity to listen to unlimited books for free for 14 days and includes hundreds of Turkish and world classics, such as Stefan Zweig, Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Sabahattin Ali, as well as current authors. Dinlebi consists of books featuring voices by famous artists such as Metin Belgin, Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan, Özgür Ozan, Mahmut Gökgöz, Oya Okar, Umut Tabak, Yağmur Ün, Eser Eyüboğlu and Yüsra Geyik.
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