In an online discussion with a reading group the subject of Audio books came up. I virtually always listen to books, but ‘ll often read along in a Kindle version. I originally bought a Kindle in 2008 for travel and that’s how I used it. Lugging along an extra suitcase for books was no fun, but there were no good bookstores close enough for me to last 2 or 3 months in North Dakota. Shipping paperbacks there was awkward. Kindle was a whole bookstore at my fingertips although at first I had to drive out of town to get reception.
So why the Audio? Originally, back in 2003 or so, it was to listen and walk at the same time I had started listening to books with a Walkman using library audio tapes, but after a few years Audible sounded good and the little Otis device came with it. I’ve not looked back -rather I listen via iPod and now iPad. Then I started listening when I was doing housework. Now, 20 years and a couple thousand books later I’m still listening to Audible and the public library is available online, too. The library doesn’t have as many good audio books, but I sometimes get older crime novels there like “The Women’s Mystery Club” by James Patterson and Maxine Paero, my new series.
After getting the Kindle I slowly but surely dropped the print books altogether due to aging eyes. That took about 3 years. Reading a few paragraphs was one thing, but trying to read pages and pages hurt my eyes. And after a few years I had only about 80 books remaining on my TBR shelf (To Be Read). I just quit trying to get them all read. (I could get the Kindle version later if I wanted to – or maybe Audible by now.) When I moved from California to North Dakota a couple years ago I left all my old books in California, but the Kindles and Audios came right along with me. 🙂
My life with books is good these days because some books are better with Kindle while others are better with Audible. The first time I really noticed this was with Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston) in about 2007 (?) I’d had trouble reading the dialect in the paper book but Ruby Dee just blessed those words as they should be read.
Then I noticed it with classics in general; a good reader who knew the material could read it right! Then several years later, I discovered reading ALONG WITH listening and got totally immersed in some books.
With some books, crime books usually but also sci-fi and literary fiction)I don’t bother with the Kindle edition. There’s no depth beyond what the reader brings to thrillers, anyway.
And I dislike those audios where there’s too much emotion read into it. It’s the same with the monotone books via the Books for the Blind programs. (But those are free for blind people – I could get used to that if I had to.).
But my brain doesn’t do over-emoting when I am silently reading a regular printed book. Do the narrators think they’ve landed an acting job? They’re supposed to be, quite simply, READING OUT LOUD!!! I want a bit of emotion and some differentiation between characters but, please, try to make it sound like silent reading. (I love some narrators and others I’ll avoid if possible. (Audible producers take note.)
Then Audible added whole casts of readers and I don’t like that a lot, but I can tolerate it. Now lately they’ve added podcasts. No thank you. I do NOT want to listen to something which sounds like an old radio show complete with sound room (echo chamber). Then they added whole musical scores and other background noises. OMG – NO! This is really distracting! If I wanted to see a movie I’d go to one. I want it to be like what’s in my head when I read a good book.
What happened to the good old-fashioned narrator reading a John Grisham novel to me? Over the years even that’s been changed to “performed by” …
Nonfiction books are usually better in the Kindle version because I get the photos and graphics and maps and source notes etc. Audible does put some select items on its site as PDF files to download along with the book.
I tend to both listen and read along when it’s appropriate; best of both worlds, imo.
And I haven’t read a paper book since last summer when I finally caved and got a history book which wasn’t available in Audio format and the Kindle was missing the line drawings because it was an early Kindle version. That book, The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790 by Rhys Isaac, (Pulitzer in 1983) is published by the Omohundro Institute
I’m reading one “Kindle only” at the moment: the first Kindle only in years. It’s called The Darkening Age written by Catherine Nixey, It’s not available in Audible, but I really wanted to read it and it’s absolutely delicious for someone with my tastes in reading history.
That said, Audible has a LOT of books, including classics, the other sources don’t offer. I used to read between 15 and 20 books a month, mostly from Audible, but over the years that’s slowed down to about 12 a month. Sometimes I refer back to them or actually get caught up in a re-read (re-listen?) and that’s delightful.
So that’s why, here in my blog, there are many books I’ve listened to and some books are listened to AND read along with. I look forward to reporting on The Darkening Age as a “Kindle only” book. LOL!
I used to listen to audio books for the daily commute but now I never listen to books at all.
I find the whole Audible thing fascinating. It’s heavily promoted here, of course, and is probably very popular. A while ago, I was pestered by offers, but they had so little Australian literary fiction (which is what I read) it wasn’t tempting. While what’s on offer for US listeners may be different, here it’s what’s popular. It’s not worth the expense for anyone to produce an audio book except for bestsellers. This has the effect of homogenising the books people have access to.
The other issue for me is, I do read international fiction, countries around the world including in translation. But the voice in my head is always Australian (that is, my hybrid version of Australian English.) Books read in other accents annoy me. There was a British classic read in an Oxbridge accent that I almost hurled out of the car…
Audible’s selection has really picked up in the last couple years. They didn’t used to be very good in the nonfiction Dept but not what’s been upgraded. Lately I’m surprised if I don’t find a book there – then I find it was a foreign author, Well, ya – most of the books here have American authors And the foreign publishers have to get American copyrights somehow, It’s better than it was for a long time, though.
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Yes, and I think it’s wonderful that when eyesight fails, there’s an option available!