Audiobooks – Like ’em, Hate ’em?

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Audiobooks…

Have you tried out audiobooks? Have you stayed away from them for one reason or another?

I was once hesitant to read books through listening. I never thought I’d be able to get the same thing out of the words as directly from the text. The narrator(s) would sound like a completely different person than I’d have imagined myself. (Add in all the other “cons” to audio, if you’d like.)

I was wrong…

I tried my first audiobooks a few years ago when I got my dog. I figured that now that I have to take time to walk him that I could spend reading…I could combine the two. It took a few walks to get used to, but I started enjoying it. I found that doing basic chores and activities allows for the mind to wander. When you put headphones on, and start reading a book instead, my mind can focus on the words/book. Dog walking’s a pretty simple thing to do. I’ve also done this while riding my bike (sounds dangerous, but I don’t go on many roads, just trails through the woods around my house).

My most recent audiobook reading has taken place while shoveling my driveway. For hours a day, I can be reading, all while making sure I can get out of the house and to the store the next day. Since about November, when the snows got enough to shovel, I was able to read the rest of the Pendergast series, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. I’ve also taken some time to read a few shorter books while doing work around the house. My reading time increased greatly.

So, who wants to try out audio now? I know it’s not for everyone. And there are some books that I’d rather read from the text to enjoy it in a different way. Also, there’s the fact that for a review, I’d rather read the book than listen. Audio doesn’t really factor in formatting or editing/proofreading. Those factor into my reviews though.

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I have a few resources for those who want to try out audiobooks , but can’t afford them. I knowΒ I can’t afford most audiobooks. I’d rather spend less than $5 on the print or ebook, than $20-25 for the audio. So instead, I got to the library!

It seems like many libraries have started getting digital collections in ebook and audio formats. Instead of going to the library and borrowing the book or CD, you can now download files to your computers or tablets/mobile devices, then listen or read the books. Great what technology can do right?

There might be a few apps to help you link up with your local library. The one I use is Overdrive. That’s where I first found out about this option for borrowing library books.

Another place to go, the first place I went, is Librivox. You won’t find new books here, but you’ll never pay for one either. Librivox is a place set up for volunteer narrators to record audiobooks for public domain works (most books published before 1923). Have you wanted to read a classic, but it’s a little slow to read or grasp the older writing style? Try the audio! For me, listening to many of the classics has gotten me past my hesitations about them…and I’ve started enjoying them. Just keep in mind that since they are read by volunteers, you might not get the best quality recordings of a professional studio. But there are some narrators that are also professionally employed and seem to have better equipment and also some great voices for the job.

You can also check Audible. I did mention that most books are expensive, but there’s always some discounts going around. Many audio books are discounted to anywhere between $0.99-4.99 if you own the ebook (if the Whispersync option is set up for the book. Find out more on that here.

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I think now, I’ll end the post. There’s more to discuss regarding audiobooks, but I’ll save that for another time. (Like, is it really reading? I know some people have mixed feelings about that.)

Now it’s time to hear your thoughts. Do you already read audiobooks? Do you want to try one out now? Still against it? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And remember, like I just said, some time soon, I’ll be revisiting this discussion to expand on the “morals” code of books, and whether or not listening is still reading.

15 responses to “Audiobooks – Like ’em, Hate ’em?

  1. I love audiobooks…we do many roadtrips (24 hours of actual drive time) so are able to listen to many books this way. The narration is important too but I have yet to come across an audiobook that the narrator didnt’ fit the book.

    • How do you pay attention to the book and the road, when driving? That’s one thing I don’t think I could do, personally. I can do it on a bike since biking comes pretty natural to me, but in a car, I think I’d zone out and hit someone, haha.

      I’ve found some narrator’s are too whiny (not just for character voices, but in general) and it’s hard to want to keep reading. This happens in some YA books with female narrators (actually most of what i’ve read are female narrators). I guess they’re trying to get a reader with a more childish voice, idk. Doesn’t always happen. But then they try to put voices on the secondary characters and I cringe at times. But I just listen to the sample before getting it, and I can tell if it’ll be good for me most of the time.

      • I have never noticed that listening to an audiobook makes concentrating on driving difficult. I can honestly say that while listening to an audiobook I have never had a wreck or gotten a ticket. But I would do it mainly on roadtrips. I have done it while driving in town, it’s not the same, while trying to navigate the Houston traffic and idiot drivers it’s not the same.

        • I think that’s more what I’d be worried about, in a town/traffic. Then again, I don’t drive much (not having a car helps that), so I’m still at the stage where I’m probably focusing too much on not driving off the road, haha. That’s why I keep my listening to activities where I can zone out of the world to jump into the book.

  2. I’m really getting into audiobooks and I do consider them as good a way to read a book as actually sitting down and reading them.

    I too struggle to pay for them but when I first got my iPod I discovered podcasting and in particular Podiobooks. There are loads of free audiobooks on Podiobooks, some are good, some not so good but that’s where I discovered some great writers and books.

    • That’s a great addition. I found Podiobooks last year. Forgot to mention it in the post (I’ll add it in a few minutes). I’ve only read two from them, but they were good and names I’ve heard of before. One day, I’ll grab a few unknowns and see what comes of it πŸ™‚

      Podcasts are in a similar vein as audiobooks too. I think that’s one of the things that sort of made me want to listen to audio. Once I got used to listening to interviews or just general conversation through Podcasts, I knew I could listen to a book. Though I kind of overloaded on them at some point last year and couldn’t keep up, haha. Many good ones out there.

      • Yeah I’ve overloaded on them too. I’ve only just got up to date on them lol. Podcasts kind of introduced me to audiobooks and I’ve discovered some great books and writers but also short story and interview podcasts as well.

  3. Audiobooks are awesome. I’ve been reading my books primarily on audio for a few years now and it’s been amazing. The convenience is just unmatched by any other form of media, at least for me.

    About the pricing issue – if you know you’re going to read a lot of audiobooks, getting a subscription at a place like Audible certainly makes it more affordable. πŸ™‚

    • Subscriptions is a good idea, and I should have made a point about that in the post. Could be a discussion for another one in the future πŸ™‚ The thing that sucks, is pricing is high and not affordable, but at the same time, I totally understand why it’s not as cheap as a book. recording anything professionally isn’t cheap, paying the narrator, producer, etc. It adds up, just like a well produced book does. I think we’re just too used to spending $10 on CDs/digital music.

  4. The kids and I have been listening to audios for about a decade. I think we started with Lemony Snicket and we’ve been through hundreds of books with some yearly rereads like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl. Right now they’re listening to The Dresden Files and loving them. Then when I was delivering the newspaper I started listening because the radio would play the same songs over and over and it was a boring job once I had the route down. Though I delivered the paper for 10 years (98-08) I didn’t think to start listening to audios until about the last 3 years or so. I got every audio I could from the library (and that was a freaking lot of them-365 days of the year, 2 hrs a morning, 3 on Sunday) though I do have some I’ve purchased, like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Hunger Games, Percy Jackson…wait those are all kids ones. lol

    Now, I listen to my audios when I’m on the treadmill. I could listen to music, but why when I could be reading. And yes, I consider it reading. If I was blind and didn’t know Braille then audios or someone else reading to me would be the only way to read, so it counts in my opinion.

    Now that I have a Fire I signed up for Audible and love it. I still have yet to figure out how to use Overdrive on my Fire. I can’t seem to get it to work. I’ll probably just have to take it to the library and have someone show me what I’m doing wrong. Hmmm…may have to hide the monster porn on it before going. *note to self*

    I totally agree about listening to the classics instead of reading them. I wanted to read The Lord of the Rings soooooo bad, but had a hard time with the writing. But listening to it was awesome! Same with Moby Dick, Great Expectations and others. I have more classics I want to read and I’m going with audios all the way. πŸ™‚

    • Great points on how it’s still reading. I haven’t heard of someone flat out say it’s “not” reading, but I have heard good enough arguments that it’s not always the same. But it depends on the book (lit fiction compared to genre fiction normally has a bit more importance on the words and you can’t always gloss over things compared to say, a thriller that you speed through due to the style…not knocking either type of book). I like the “if I was blind” comment. So true. I thin it all boils down to the individual’s experience with an audio and with a real book. Did they get the same out of it? If so, then yay. If not, maybe audio doesn’t work as well.

      Glad to see I’m not alone about the classics. It does help when listening, doesn’t it πŸ˜‰ I could see myself following along with the text in front of me maybe, even, for some books. So I could get the experience of the text with the aid of the audio.

      • That’s actually a great idea, about reading along with an audio when it comes to the classics. I’m going to try that with my next classics read/listen when I’m on the treadmill and see how it changes my experience, if at all. Those are the kind of experiments I like. lol

  5. I was interested to read your post – sounds a lot like me. A lifelong reader, I was a terrible snob about audiobooks until I hit that age when many of us find ourselves spread too thin – work, kids, aging parents. I read every day to my only child, but when I tried to read a book for myself, I kept falling asleep within a sentence or two. There is no way one can get through a book one or two sentences at a time!

    A friend who loved audiobooks (her job required her to drive a lot) convinced me to give them a go. I was an instant convert. So much so that I started plotting to quit my job (I managed a small scholarly journal) and start an audiobook publishing company. Which I did! (Post Hypnotic Press – check us out at http://www.posthypnoticpress.com.)

    I love this medium, more than I ever thought I would. I know that some people find it hard to focus, but I was shocked to discover how much more I was retaining from the books I was listening to. I love non-fiction, although I also enjoy fiction, too, but I was surprised at how well non-fiction translates to audio. I would have thought it were the opposite. Not all non-fiction translates well to audio – something heavy in equations or technical information is going to be a tough listen – but most non-fiction does translate very well. And if a book is interesting but rather dense, one has the added benefit of the narrator making the content understandable through their inflection. It’s remarkable the amount of information I now retain.

    And, re the classics, I’m a huge fan of classic literature. After discovering audio, I’ve been revisiting novels I loved in my youth – listened to Dickens (Simon Vance), Thomas Hardy, Tolstoy, etc. While I loved reading these books, I really loved listening to them, especially the Russians, as I always had trouble following their complicated nomenclature.

    Besides allowing busy and/or exhausted people to read, audiobooks are also great for reluctant readers. Studies have shown that listening to audiobooks can increase your vocabulary and reading abilities! Great for kids, too.

    • One of the best teachers I ever had in college told us that the best way to learn and retain was to listen, read and write. So, he lectured while writing copious amounts on the board and, while it wasn’t *required*, he did strongly insist, that we write down what he put on the board as we were listening and reading what he wrote. I consider myself fairly intelligent and I’ve always gotten decent grades, but is it a coincidence that I consistently got As in his classes? It may be, but I still retain a lot of what I learned in his classes and it’s been a decade. πŸ™‚

  6. Pingback: The Results Are In! Format Preference Poll. | Writing After Dark

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