Audiobooks

I might get struck down for what I am about to say but I do believe in being honest with all of you who pop by Savidge Reads, so here goes… I have always thought that audio books are cheating. I know, I know I should be expelled from the book blogosphere but do bear with me while I explain and also why I might be changing my tune.

The reason I have previously never believed that an audio book really counts as a book is because you don’t actually read it. Oh and I must mention I am only applying this to me (myself and I personally – not everyone else) and audio books. I am not saying that I feel like this about people who use them as some people may need them as they are sight impared etc and other people just really like audio books when they are driving, cleaning or simply whenever they fancy! So lets close the lid on that can of worms before we go any further…

I know some people would strongly disagree with that statement, and I am fine with that and invite you to leave a comment saying why that’s wrong below. I just think that if you say you have ‘read’ a book then you have to actually have ‘read’ it. I wouldn’t for example watch ‘Revolutionary Road’ on DVD and say I had therefore read the book too. Do you know what I mean? Note: Having said that films are generally a rather abridged and often highly edited adaptation of a book, an audio book is the book word for word. That doesn’t mean I don’t like audio books, I just seemed to loose my way with some slightly (and I am being really honest here) snooty thoughts on them.

However the author Paul Magrs (who blogs too if you didn’t know, do pop and have a look if you don’t already) kindly lent me and audio book or two which he thought might be right up my street, and he was right…

Yes, I have now got some wonderful Agatha Raisin novels on my iPod and with the wonderful Penelope Keith being Agatha they are an absolute joy to listen to though not to read and have been with me on several trips into town and on shopping expeditions. I have been highly entertained by them and now want to get my mitts on the rest of the set, with one small condition… I have to have read the mysteries first, rather like I would if I was going to see a film adaptation I guess.

I do wonder though if audio books might make good companions to a book. For the first time in a long while I considered downloading an audio book when I was reading ‘Brighton Rock’ and had found myself floundering somewhat. I wouldn’t have switched exclusively to the audio version. Maybe just turned to it and then back to the book and so on while I got a grasp on Pinkie and all he was up to.

I am wondering if I am missing a trick though and so thought I would start a little light discussion on audio books today to get your thoughts. Are there any you would recommend? Have you read a book and found it so tough you’ve turned to an audio version and suddenly sailed on with or without the actual novel? What are the pro’s and con’s of audio? Do you think if you have listened to an audio book you have then read it and if so why, what makes the distinction? Looking forward to your thoughts, you might convert me. Maybe I could end up reading a book and then listening to the audio and see how they compare… ooh I already have a possibility in mind.

Update note – Paul Magrs has done a brilliant post in response to this please do have a look!

52 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts

52 responses to “Audiobooks

  1. Audio books are not cheating! Every single word the author has written goes into your head – it doesn’t matter if you read it or see it on the page. In many ways you have longer to digest the story as you can normally read a book much quicker than you can listen to one.

    That said, a good audio book is hard to find – some books do not work on audio and some narrators are terrible. It is well worth researching the audio book before getting it as I’d say about 90% of audios aren’t good. Check out the Audie Awards for ones worth listening to.

    I would never compare listening to the audio book to watching the film. Films are abridged, use different words (and often plots!) as well as giving you all the sets and actors that affect your mental picture of what’s going on. I hope that you change your mind on audio books as I feel you are missing out – especially where books have a strong dialect. Good luck!

    • Thanks for the enthusiastic comment Jackie. Its from people like you that I might just get coverted. I don’t know why or where this small issue/prejudice has come from, I might ask my mother or Gran their thoughts… thats right lets blame them hahaha.

      I did mention that a film is an abriged and edited version of a film but hopefully people get what I mean.

      Have you any audio books you would recommend? I love the dialect idea, in fact there is a book I have just read that would be great on audio I imagine with the accent!

      • I think that you’ve read all my favourite audio books (Guernsey Pie Society, Child 44 & Henrietta Lacks) I don’t listen to that many audio books so I’m not an expert, but I’m sure that there are plenty of other people with other suggestions.

  2. Before I started book blogging, I honestly thought that audio books were just for people’s whose vision wouldn’t allow them to read. Obviously, that’s not the case but I still can’t understand why you would prefer to listen to a book rather than read it. I’ve listened to and even enjoyed a few audiobooks for books that I already knew well but I could never let an audiobook be the first way I experience a story. When you read you can imagine the characters sounding any way you like but an audiobook takes away that imaginative freedom.

    • People’s? Whoops, not sure where that came from.

      • I think maybe thats where my thoughts lie to be honest Claire. I think I would want to read the book first and then aybe go back, or as I mentioned use the audio in conjuncture with a tricky book?

    • lizzysiddal

      I recently enjoyed Andrea Levy’s “The Long Song” much more as an audio book than I did as a traditional read. It was all in the performance – hearing the lilting Jamaican accent – not something I would ever “hear” in my own head.

      • Great, great point Lizzy, I heard Andrea Levy read live, she did the accent amazingly and she reads the audio book I believe so that would be excellent indeed I imagine, in fact that might have to be purloined some how!

  3. It is very much a different experience and I’m fairly agnostic. The two exceptions are Dracula read by Richard E Grant because it was so atmospheric and the Harry Potter novels because I got fed up with their physical size (and it’s Stephen Fry after all!)

    • You see the reader could make the experience all the better like you mention with Richard E Grant or Stephen Fry and as Lizzy mentions with Andrea Levy. Interesting, interesting.

      See you are all already making me rethink even more than I was.

  4. I have mixed feelings about audio books. I sometimes like them and frequently dislike them for the same reason — they force me to take the book in more slowly than I would if I read it. If I’m really enjoying the book this is a good thing. If I’m not enjoying it that much, then spending 12 hours on a story I could have read in 3 is irritating. In fact, last night I gave up on an audio book I was listening to and found a paper copy because I was sort of interested to know how it turned out, but disliked the main character enough I wasn’t willing to spend several more hours in her company. When actually reading a book I can take it at my own pace and skim forward through the parts I’m not that interested in. That’s not so easy with an audiobook.

    • I am wondering if its my attention span you know? I can read a book and be lost in the world because I dedicate time to sitting and reading, yet if I am wandering around though I listen I think I am in a less concentrative state maybe?

      I had never thought that audio was slower than reading, I for some reason assumed (me and my presumptions again) that it would be the other way around.

  5. I don’t think you can compare audiobooks to films, not at all. A film of a novel would merely be an adaptation, and contain a majority of non textual dialogue and plot – an audiobook is every word of the novel being read aloud. There is a very big difference, and they are not in the same league at all.

    I can understand what you’re saying, but at the same time, you have to take into consideration that some people are aural processors and some people are visual processors. I am not great at taking in information aurally – I am much better at reading physical text, and so I don’t listen to audiobooks, as I know my attention will drift. However, other people struggle to read and process information that is printed, such as those with dyslexia, and their attention drifts when they read text, so being able to listen to words and process them without having to read and decipher text works much better for them.

    Also, blind or visually impaired people don’t have a choice – they can’t see printed text, so audiobooks are their only way to access literature (besides Braille, which isn’t technically reading either!). Would you say a blind person had never read a book?!

    I don’t think audiobooks are cheating at all – the word ‘read’ means ‘to make out the meaning of’ – this is not exclusive to the sense of sight. We all take in information in different ways and just because I don’t get on with audiobooks it doesn’t mean other people don’t either. Some of my most treasured memories as a child are of ‘reading’ books with my mum -she was reading out loud and I was listening, but I still consider myself to have read those books and loved them, and the stories stay with me still.

    So…sorry Simon! I think you need to reconsider your prejudice on this one!! 😉

    • No my audio and film was a mistake, but I did then mentione the editing and abridging which do make them seperate things completely. Ooops. Also completely agree with you on those who may be visually impared, some people also just love audio books and good on them, I just want to know what it is they love that I am missing out on!!

      I hadnt thought of read in your definition, so thank you again Rachel for showing me a glitch in my way of taking on the word read, in my head (and I am only being honest not trying to offend anyone at all) I think reading is sitting and reading. Maybe I should open my mind some more?

      As I mentioned to Gail I think maybe I am just not as aural as I once was. I can read a book and be lost in the world because I dedicate time to sitting and reading, yet if I am wandering around though I listen I think I am in a less concentrative state maybe?

      I also LOVE your point about your Mum reading to you, thats a memory I treasure. In my perception, and I find perceptions we all differ on fascinating, I was being read to. So maybe thats where I think in my head the distinction lies? Or have I just confused myself? Hahaha.

      I agree on needing to reconsider my prejudice, but least I haven’t too much pride to put it out there and say I think I am wrong. Do you see what I did there… in fact reading and audio booking Pride and Prejudice might just get me to read the darn thing. You’ve inspired me!!!!

      • I just reread my comment and realised I sounded really Headmistressy – sorry! I didn’t mean to! I’m obviously having a day! 😉

        I am totally not aural at all. I even drift off when I’m on the phone, because I’m too busy looking around and thinking ‘oh, I should get that washing up done’ or ‘why is that there?’ or ‘who is that outside my window?’ and so on. My brain never shuts off, so I have to force myself to sit and read and be quiet otherwise I’d take nothing in.

        I think you make a good point about reading and being read to. However, if you accept the point that reading something is just essentially making sense of something, and remove the association with physically reading text from a page, you’d perhaps find it easier to accept audiobooks as a form of reading!

        I don’t understand how people can listen to audiobooks either, as I can’t at all. I have tried and after about fifteen minutes I realise that I have taken in nothing whatsoever. I am not a good listener, apparently. Though I am to people’s problems! That’s a different kettle of fish!

        Ramble ramble..well it’s a good debate to have. I do know a lot of people who consider audiobooks to be cheating, so you’re not alone! 🙂

      • Not headmistressy at all Rachel, I thought you made some great points and inspired me to get on with reading and audioing ‘Pride & Prejudice’ so am most grateful to you!

  6. I’ve just heard that the marvellous Sam West has recently recorded an unabridged ‘Brighton Rock’, produced by my friend Neil Gardner.

    I’m a great fan of audiobooks. I like moving between them and the printed word. And i love relistening to favourites while ironing (specially Guernsey Literary / Potato Peel pie.)

    • Oooh that unabridged ‘Brighton Rock’ might be just up my street.

      I do love the idea of having an audio book I turn back to whilst ironing etc, currently I have The Archers which I love though Agatha might steal their time thanks to you!

    • I might have to ask to borrow that audio of TGLPPS if I could be so bold as I loved the book so I might love the audio book too!

  7. I m not audio book fan ,like a radio drama sometime and book based podcasts but can’t get on with audio books ,but know many people enjoy them so each to there own ,all the best stu

  8. GavReads

    I’m also becoming more of a fan of audiobooks – though I’m more behind on my Audilbe purchases that I’d like. Sigh lol. Though I found them most useful in the gym – I can’t seem to focus with music playing though audiobooks seem to absorb my head and I let my body do the talking. I think a lot of it is going to depends on the voice of the narrator – both the writers and the performers – but I have to say that it work for me!

    • Great idea to have them on in the gym Gav. I have to say I am due back at the gym very soon and for me only music does it. I tried with The Archers, back in the day, I really did but it just didnt work, I needed tunes pooring through my brain to keep me going.

  9. I’ve not researched this rigorously, but I’ve always had the impression that the vast majority of commercially available audio books (as opposed to those targetted at the visually impaired) are abridged versions. There do seem to be more and more unabridged releases though, assisted by the growth in downloading.

    The MP3 format makes complete readings more economically viable and affordable. For example, I recently bought an unabridged reading of the first of Susan Hill’s Simon Serailler novels for one of my relatives. Running for something like 14 hours, it would have set me back over £40 on CD, but as an MP3 download I got it for less than half of that (from H20-Pebbles dot com, if you catch my drift). I cannot comment personally on that particular audio book because, as an observer of copyright, I did not keep a copy for myself. I certainly enjoyed the book in print form and I can report that it went down well with my relative.

    I am a complete radio and audio addict as well as being a keen reader, so I love both readings and dramatisations. I often use readings (either purchased or on radio) to revisit books I have already read, or to sample books I might like to read. In the latter case, I actually prefer abridged readings since I am only looking to get a taste of the book.

    I’m not a fan of outfits like Audible that work on a subscription model. To my mind, sites like SilkSoundBooks.com and Naxos Audiobooks offer much better value for money, albeit offering a much smaller range. Both include the above mentioned Sam West on their roster of readers.

    Recording stuff off Radios 4 and 7 is handy too. I realise that sounds like (and probably is) a breach of the copyright principles I mentioned earlier, but having paid the licence fee I don’t see why I shouldn’t record radio programmes to listen to at my leisure. I recently recorded the brilliant dramatisation of War and Peace from about ten years ago, starring Simon Russell Beale, so that is in my “to be heard” pile along with episodes 3 to 6 of I,Claudius.

    • I don’t know about whether these audiobooks are abridged or not, I will have to look into that. I can say I am a fan of the Agatha Raisin ones which have been edited a little. I had spotted that the CDs are very expensive in the stores. I am more of an mp3 man which I never ever thought I would say.

      I love Radio 4 podcasts and probably am subscribed to far too many.

  10. I can’t let this matter close to my heart and my soapbox pass uncommented. A provocative post. You raise a GROANING SMORGASBOARD of under-examined issues.
    Wonderful.

    I am a writer AND actor. As an actor my bread-and-butter is audiobooks. They are fun gigs. Quick, compact and ok pay. And you don’t have to do your hair on the day.
    Also you learn a lot about writing.

    First: Books undergo a chemical change when they are read. I mean old-fashioned lips-not-moving reading. The reader’s head is where the interpretation happens.

    Second: Books are written DOWN by writers. Writers understand they will be read by readers from pages between covers. They understand this as they write them. Personally I am a stickler for formatting and layout and font (and even paper texture.) Yes it does make a difference to how the words are read. (An issue that bothers me about the e-reading but that’s another comment…) Writers hope their books will be read with attention, curiosity and openness but we accept those things are beyond our control. That is part of the mystery of writing. The drama happens in someone else’s head and you will never really know what took place when your words and that reader’s life collided.

    So: when, as voice-over artist, I read a book/story/prose piece out loud I replace the reader’s internal voice and I become that voice. My job is very similar to that of a translator. I can’t exactly mimic the words on the page when I say them out loud but I can try not to get in their way. I can try to preserve the nuance of the writer’s carefully chosen punctuation… or the lack of nuance if there is none. I can be simple but natural and (this is important) accurate.

    Furthermore, I will read faster past the boring bits (even in a black room in front of a microphone I can see the hypothetical audience’s attention drift – a lesson I draw on when I write) and I give lots of air to the kinds of sentences that your eye lingers over because they are so delicious. But not too much. Too much of those sorts of decisions and you have MY interpretation to deal with. I choose different accents/ tones of voice for different characters (without getting too carried away…)
    I have a producer to help me with these decisions and she or he will have the last word… So it’s not just me. That’s already two parties in between you the reader and you (yes you over there) the writer.

    It is an imperfect enterprise. Of course I interpret. Of course I have my preferences and tastes. Of course I will have a subjective response to the writing which will affect how I read. By this I don’t mean judgement. I mean I will be affected in a certain way whereas the next actor might be affected in a different way. And that will affect what you, the listener, hears – in your car, on your iPhone, in the background as you are semi-attending to something else.

    Just because the words are prose not drama does not mean they can be unaffected by being voiced. An audiobook version of a book is an interpretation of that book in a similar way to its being presented in a different language. The same but of course not at all the same.

    We can argue about to what degree this analogy is true – but to some degree it is true. I think it is a good analogy. I entrust it to you.

    I loved the Guardian’s short story podcasts recently. One of the things that captured me was the range of voices. I felt, as I said to a friend that “the best readers were not always the best readers.” Just because someone can do a BBC type of voice, prosody and intonation does not mean they are able to allow you close to the words.

    So I will say this to sum up. Audiobooks are one way of experiencing a book – I think they are a perfectly legitimate way of “experiencing a book”, great for car journeys, walks, for calming children and essential for many sight-impaired readers, but it is worth pointing out that most audiobooks are one reader’s best effort to deliver that book in a form that was not uppermost in the writer’s mind when she wrote it.

    And as an actor who tries to be true to the writer it is something I try hard to remember always.

    • Blimey thats a lot to take in, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts on it all. Seems there are pro’s and cons to it all too be honest.

      I do like what you say about ‘experiencing a book’ though, I hadnt thought of audio books in that way.

  11. Eva

    I did a whole post about this last year:
    http://astripedarmchair.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/on-the-validity-of-audiobooks/

    Also, as far as abridgments go, I’ve been listening to audiobooks for YEARS and I’ve never listened to an abridgment. So I think the assumption that most audiobooks are abridgments is erroneous; all of the audiobook enthusiasts I know would never touch an abridgment with a ten foot pole.

    I think you have to train yourself with audiobooks like with anything else; at first, it’s going to feel odd and difficult. But once you’ve got the style under your belt, it gets easier and more natural feeling! For that reason, I tend to recommend people start out with rereads. But here are some of my favourites, since you asked for title suggestions: include Ireland by Frank Delaney, Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, and Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie.

    • I am definitley happy to be proved wrong and I can tell that its already started to be honest. I dont know the deal on how much or not audio books are or arent abridged, but I do think there is definitely a place for them and a lot of love for them around the blogosphere which is lovely to hear.

      A big huge THANKS for your suggestions and recommendations, I will have to check some of those out.

  12. Stephanie

    I started using Audiobooks as an extra reading resource 2.5 years ago and they made a big difference in one undesirable aspect of my life – they rejuvenated the daily commute on the motorway to work. Suddenly, I didn’t mind that the journey could take twice as long as it did the day before – it meant I heard more of the story.

    The disadvantages are:
    – the book takes longer to ‘read via the aural canal’ as you are held up by the reader’s pace
    – the disc can be damaged and a whole section of the story can be missed, although I am persistent in replaying a track/disc to see if the section will ‘come alive’ (another version of resurrecting the dead)!
    – the reader’s voice/accent can be an irritation (not common)
    – you can be wanting to press on with the story but the journey has come to an end and you have to leave the story in the car
    – if you have passengers in the car, do they want to listen to the tape? (Or would you want them to hear the tape)? (I have become adept at precising a story so a willing passenger is up to speed with the characters at the point where they join the story)

    Advantages:
    I have gained ‘non reading’ time to read via the aural canal
    I will try books by an author I might not want to invest sight reading time in as I am in the car anyway and want to have something of interest to listen to
    If there is a passage that you particularly liked you can replay it as often as you wish
    Where your attention has drifted during the reading and you don’t understand how the story got from Point A to Point B, you can replay the section
    It seems easier to invest your time in the audiotape for very long stories (e.g. 14 tapes) when you might not want to read an 800 page novel, even though the listening experience will physically take longer. I view it as using the committed driving time to my advantage.

    There are several books I have visually read after the audiobook as I liked the flavour of the story and wanted to experience it again. The most recent one was ‘The graveyard book’ by Neil Gaiman. And for some authors I have picked up other books by them, having first sampled their writing through an audiobook.

    I am somewhat spoilt in that our library has a very large selection and I always make sure that I have an audiobook on hand whenver I am going to be driving. For 2010, I read 7 books for every 4 audiobooks.

    Audiobooks make me feel as though I really can do two things at once. Read and drive!

    • Fantastic concise and clear list of pros and cons – I do love a list! I am getting a much clearer image of the pros from everyone which is most helpful to me. Thanks very much for taking the time to write so much… I feel like my reply doesnt do it justice, sorry!

  13. gaskella

    I have only tried a couple of audio books, but find I can’t concentrate on them enough, as I have to be doing something else – I can’t just sit and listen. I do have the radio on all day though (predominantly R4) and at that level of multi-tasking I function well on all counts, but having an aural input that requires a bit more concentration is too much – perhaps I should try again, but to ‘re-read’ books I know well.

    • I am like you Annabel, its the fact that I have to ‘be doing stuff’ when I have audio on… or that I pop audio on when I am doing stuff. With things like The Archers I manage to stay on top of it because its in snippets and its some delightful company when shopping. If I go and sit I tend to want a book in my hand.

  14. I’m coming to this a bit late — sorry — but I think audiobooks have their place. In fact I believe they’re even more relevant in today’s multi-media environment. They complement the new ways in which we can now access the printed word. Twenty years ago when I had a three hour daily commute, most of which was spent strap-hanging with not enough personal space to hold a book or turn pages without knocking fellow passengers on the chin, I used to listen to audio tapes of favourite books on my Walkman. In those pre-Kindle days it kept me sane during many a tedious journey.

    Abridged audiobooks can also be a great way to get a taste of a novel before embarking on it in print. For me they can be a wonderful way of listening to a loved actor — my favourite up to now has been Jeremy Irons reading Evelyn Waugh’s’Brideshead Revisited’. I shall look out for Sam West rendition of Brighton Rock — thanks for the pointer, Paul. Finally, I agree with Lizzy that some readers can add an extra dimension to a novel when read well.

    • Carola you can never be too late to a blog post thats one of the joys of them.

      I agree with your statement about multimedia and if it gets some people who might not normally pick up a book ‘reading’ then thats all the better isnt it!

      I like how you took a positive spin on abrigement too. Maybe I should stop being such a snob about movie adaptations and take that stance also! Food for thought.

  15. I never listen to audiobooks, but that’s because my attention span is quite rubbish, and I know I’d stop taking things in. When I’m reading a book I often find I’m staring into space, but at least the text stopped when I did!

    • One thing I have done twice so far Simon is fall asleep with an audio book on and then I get really confused. If it was a book it might confuse me when I wake up to open pages covering my face but like you say the text has stopped when I have.

  16. novelinsights

    I haven’t listened to audiobooks for ages but I used to LOVE them as a kid. I do know what you mean about feeling that it’s different somehow to listen rather than read (i.e. you can’t ‘technically’ say that you’ve ‘read’ it!). I would like to listen to audiobooks again though and was planning to listen to the latest Lynwood Barclay in the car up North at Christmas but was already halfway home and didn’t think that I needed seven hours of audio entertainment (seven!). Also I often find that they’re overpriced on iTunes and I’m a bit lazy when it comes to ordering / don’t really want the actual CDs.

    • I loved them too as a kid, I wonder when it stopped as I can’t remember. I bet a Lynwood Barclay would make a really interesting and quite gripping audio book so am liking your thoughts there.

  17. Oh, you’ve really opened up a can of tapes, er, ah, I mean worms. (only joking)

    I started listening to audio books some 15 or so years ago. I was a mother with young children, working outside the home. I wasn’t getting much time for reading, found I was hearing the same songs on my half hour drive to work and back, and thought I’d try a book on tape. It allowed me to “know” books I might not have had a chance to read.

    Older now, and with more time to sit and read, my preferred method, I’ll still check out an audio book every once in awhile. I always check them out if I am taking a long car ride, which is often enough as our daughter and her family are 8 hours away by car.

    I think audio books work for many people – some who might not know books any other way for all the reasons mentioned before me by others.

    There are some stories that really lend themselves to audio. Alexander McCall comes to mind. I mentioned I’d wish I had heard The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency on audio and was gifted it a few years ago by our other daughter. While I liked the book, I loved the tape. It picked up on the inflections and pronunciations of words and phrases and brought them to life even more than the written words for me.

    What a lively “conversation” you have had here.

    Oh, I would love to hear Agatha Raisin on audio. I actually met M. C. Beaton at a booksigning a few years ago here in the States and she was delightful. I’ve read most of the Agatha series and think it would be rather fun to hear them as well.

    • Another fantastic point… circumstances. I hadnt taken that into account at all actually. And I loved how you called this a ‘conversation’ you have made me really rethink and thats what I am really pleased about with a post like this.

      I am sooooo jealous of you meeting M.C. Beaton! That is a dream of mine.

  18. Martin Robbins

    I love audio books they are great for people like myself who can no longer read the printed word.
    I just wish more publishers would put more of their books on the medium.
    I brought a cd player that also plays cd’s in the mp3 format it also has a memory so if I switch it off and restart it in starts from the point I switched it off, which is a great help.
    As a fantasy, magic realm and dragons fan, may I suggest you try listening to an Anne McCaffrey “Pern” novel on audio and listen as the dragon appears inside your head.
    It’s just a pity so many of her novels are no longer available on audio.
    There are several great sites out there were you can get large selctions of audio books Book Depository being just one.

    • I am completely agreed with you on audio books being a wonderful thing for those who can no longer read the printed word, as I mentioned in the blog itself.

      I wouldnt want anyone thinking that I wasnt aware of their value in those terms. I personally havent had much luck with them but am giving them a whirl over the next few weeks to see if I am wrong which I am more than happy to be proved.

      I love how you described the dragons inside your heed, that shows an audio book that has worked wonders.

  19. I used to think that audio books were not for me. But then I got a new job with a new long commute, and decided to give them a whirl. The key is to have a really good narrator of course. Dialogue seems to be a particularly tricky point. I quit one audio book in favor of the print version because I hated how the narrator was doing the main male character’s dialogue.

    That said, listening to audio books while driving often provides me an immersion experience that sometimes elevates the book beyond perhaps what would have happened in print. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed Bridget Jones’ Diary as much in print as I did in audio book for instance.

    David Case, who read The Inimitable Jeeves under the name Frederick Davidson, was absolutely spot-on hilarious with his narration. All my favorite audio books that I’ve listened to while on my long commute were first-person narration. I don’t think that’s coincidence. It already is written as if someone is telling you a story, so the audio book medium is a natural fit.

    • Again its down to circumstance and peoples time allowance and in several cases (including yours) of commentors I can completely see why these might be a valuable addition and pleasure in your life.

  20. Martin Robbins

    May I just add to my comments, I seems to me there are far too many book snobs in here. I remember a time in the late 18th Century when great libraries were all the rage and books brought bound in hide and by the yard. As long as the library did not have that book then it was purchased.
    Surely, it does not matter in what medium you enjoy the book, be it Audio, book, ebook or signed to you.
    The pleasure should be in the wordsmith’s art.
    Comparing the written book with audio is like compering a Constable with an Emmit, both are art although you may not enjoy one!

    • I don’t think its a case of people being book snobs at all Martin. If you look back most of the comments are celebrating audio books, does that make them ‘audio snobs’. I think in this posts case its been more a case of discussing the differences rather than comparing and contrasting.

      As long as you enjoy the art form you are right it shouldnt matter which you read, its interesting to discuss it and find out why people do and dont like them though.

  21. I just haven’t found one that I connected with. I know that once I find one, though, the medium may stick with me – I have heard that it is a good companion to reading it. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is supposed to be an excellent audio production and can be listened to in tandem with the reading, or if you like the story itself and have already read it, to listen to it and experience the story in a whole new way.

  22. Martin Robbins

    The real problem with Audio Books is that too many publishers don’t use the MP3 format so you end up with too many discs just for an abridged version of the story.
    I have just finished reading the abridged version of Bernard Cornwall’s “The Last Kingdom”, Alfred the Great series.
    Five in the series BUT I could only get one in unabridged format. That had NINE discs for approx 10 hours of story whilst “Dragonsdawn” by Anne McCaffrey had ONE disc MP3-CD and was 15 hours of listening and it was half the price too

    Old Enough To Know Better, Too Thick To Care!

  23. Pingback: Free Never Let Me Go Audio Books « Savidge Reads

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  25. Pingback: What is your reading style? Do you listen to audio books? | Coffee talk with Erin

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