Edinburgh Books Audio


Hard to explain these arrangements I've made for recording audio books. The current arrangement uses my stock of books, largely copies of The One O'Clock Gun Anthology and The Supper Book to deaden the sound.

To make the recordings impactful and of high enough quality, recording conditions are important.

I've experimented. I began using a recording booth which I booked in Leith. I could barely squeeze inside this booth, which had to be zipped up from the inside. The booth was 100% sound-proof . . . of that there was no doubting. But the booth was hot, uncomfortable, and far away from home.

My next effort involved a golf umbrella which was gaffer-taped to a standard lamp. Over the top of the open umbrella were draped duvets, and blankets. The interior of this domestic tent was fairly sound-proofed, and I recorded some of the title BULLY, INC. in there.

The most recent attempt at a home recording booth, one which offered sufficient sound quality to satisfy the demansds of the massive, new and burgeoning audiobook market - - I am constantly told that this market is huge, and growing faster, and more huge yet - - was by using a so-called 'shotgun microphone' which I embedded in a stack of books. This is pictured.

I recorded two John Herdman tales using this method, although the resulting files contained a large amount of background hiss. This may have been down to my choice of Windows Voice Recorder as software, I do not know. These Herdman files must now be processed in an application called RX7, which I have no idea how to use.

RX7 promises miracles, but I do not know yet if gold can be forged from the base metal of my home recorded audio-books.




There were so few tourists in Edinburgh this summer, and no festival at all. This was a mild relief for the people who live in Edinburgh, I own up to this. The festivals of August are world-famous and well attended.

2.7 million people visit Edinburgh in August, more than five times the population of the city. So despite everything, it was a pleasant break to have the Festival City lie fallow for one year.

In reality Edinburgh is grey, grey-white or ochre, the same shade as the sea or the sky. This is Edinburgh's natural colour. As porous as the stone is the architecture, and as porous as the architecture are the arts, which give way, crumble, create holes, through which clown faces smile in August, blasting out of every space.

Even serious people apear as clown faces in August, in Edinburgh. Nothing is serious in August. The dim light and the normally thin music of voices are amplified, and all is a roar of publicity and egoism, within which everybody wants to be seen, heard, attended to. They all want to sell, and they are all stars, and images and chains of images are broadcast from every window, from every space  . . . it is the most capitalist thing in the world.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the book festival, all of it is so irresistably converged upon attention-seeking and money-making, the selling of everything for anything, with nobody capable of anything but selling . . .  they are all fighting for the advertising space in the human brain . . . and nobody does anything to buck these trends. It was pleasant for those that live here, to have a break for one year.

And what a great year for it: 2020.

2020: The most moralising, dull, unappealing, bitter year on record. The most boring, dry and preaching, sermonising year on record. The arts have been hit badly by the abuses inherent in the dialectical optics of social media, as if all voices, as if all legs are entangled in ribbons of mesaging . . . it's been such a bore to watch it.

So it was good to be spared it, this year, of all years.


Peter Burnett