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Which do you enjoy most - audio books or print?

Created: 09/26/11

Replies: 8

Posted Sep. 26, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
admin

Join Date: 10/11/10

Posts: 369

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RE: Which do you enjoy most - audio books or print?

The following was posted in a recent book club chat about One Day by David Nicholls. To avoid the book club chat going too far off topic, and because audio books are an interesting topic in their own right we've opened a new forum to discuss audio books.

"I listened to this one as an audio book, and the narrator's performance was fantastic. She really brought the characters to life. I'm not sure I would have found the print book to be as entertaining because it was quite long and sometimes repetitive. The audio made this one worthwhile for me." - gwendolyndawson

"I think Gwendolyn makes an interesting point, there are a great many books that I'm sure I've enjoyed more because I listened to them. I'm not sure if I would have made it through Franzen's Freedom if I hadn't listened to the audio version, for example." - davinamw

"Are the audio books different than the print books? I thought that they just read the books, but it sounds as if that's not the case." - dianed


Posted Sep. 26, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 506

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RE: Which do you enjoy most - audio books or print?

Hi Diane

To answer your question, usually audio books are exactly the same as the print version, except spoken. But that it is a little too simplistic as, in recent years, the quality of audio books has gone through the roof. I remember when I used to take audio books out of the library to listen to in the car back in the mid 80s and they were, as a general rule, not very inspiring to listen to. But then, sometime in the past 15 years or so, publishers started getting professional actors to read the books and that totally changed the game for me. The well-meaning drone of a regular voice was replaced by an actor who could perfectly deliver the lines in the book, complete with accents, intonation and so forth; and sometimes there'll be more than one voice, for example, The Help is narrated from the point of view of multiple characters and thus the recorded version is read by multiple voices.

When I said that I wouldn't have made it through a book such as Freedom without audio, what I probably should have said is that I wouldn't have appreciated it as much if I'd read it, as I think I would have got frustrated by some elements and skipped forward a few pages here and there, but with audio it's much more difficult to skip through so I find myself neither jumping or ahead nor speed-reading, with the result that I really take in what is being said. The added advantage of audio books is that a good book makes household chores fly by - never is the house cleaner than when I've got a good audio book on the go!


Posted Sep. 26, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
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dianed

Join Date: 09/14/11

Posts: 11

RE: Which do you enjoy most - audio books or print?

Davina, that's interesting! My friend takes audio books with her on her trips, but I've never listened to one. I've been afraid I'd get frustrated, if the person reading it were too fast or too slow for me. ;o) I'll have to borrow one from the library and see.


Posted Sep. 27, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 506

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RE: Which do you enjoy most - audio books or print?

For a long trip, or a commute, you can't beat a good audio book. Back when our children were small, we'd have an audio book playing on even short journeys as the stories were just a few minutes long and the children would happily listen to the same story, or parts of it, again and again - and again! The immediate advantage was that car journeys were usually very peaceful events - very rarely any shouting or arguing.

The stories are all so well read these days that even the simplest children's books were pleasant for us adults to listen to, but it wasn't long before we were listening to more challenging and longer stories - because the children would happily listen to a story well beyond the level they would have read themselves (or even listened to us reading), simply because they are so well read.

The children are now sixteen and eighteen and still always like to make sure that we have a good book in the car before starting on a long journey. But perhaps the best thing that came out of all the audio books is that we have a vast reservoir of books that we, as a family, have listened to together over the years - a wealth of shared memories and literary references, from The Wind in the Willows to Jane Austen, by way of many a "page turning" contemporary read.


Posted Sep. 28, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
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dianed

Join Date: 09/14/11

Posts: 11

RE: Which do you enjoy most - audio books or print?

That's great! I sure wish we'd had something like that, back when we were traveling with our kids. They didn't even have cassette players in cars back then. We did take some books with us, but I don't remember if the kids read them or not. Four kids, traveling across the country, can really do you in...especially since our trips lasted 2-3 weeks. If they'd had books to listen to, I'm sure they'd have been better behaved.


Posted Sep. 30, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 506

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RE: Which do you enjoy most - audio books or print?

To give you an idea of the caliber of modern day audio books, here's a snippet from a press release by Audible.com sent out today. Of course, you don't have to be a Hollywood star to read well. For example Barbara Rosenblat is a fantastic narrator: http://www.barbararosenblat.com...

Audible is going Hollywood, enlisting a number of accomplished actors--including Annette Bening, Colin Firth, Dustin Hoffman and Kate Winslet--to narrate a new line of audiobooks, featuring many classic works selected by the performers. Scheduled for release beginning in early 2012, the offerings include these pairings:

Kim Basinger (The Awakening by Kate Chopin)
Annette Bening (Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolfe)
Jennifer Connelly (The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles)
Colin Firth (The End of the Affair by Graham Greene)
Anne Hathaway (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum)
Dustin Hoffman (Being There by Jerzy Kosinski)
Samuel L. Jackson (A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes)
Nicole Kidman (To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf)
Meg Ryan (The Human Comedy by William Saroyan)
Susan Sarandon (The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers)
Naomi Watts (Summer by Edith Wharton)
Kate Winslet (Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola)


Posted Dec. 04, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
jenniferp

Join Date: 12/04/11

Posts: 3

RE: Which do you enjoy most - audio books or print?

I am a constant listener of audio books, and a long-long-time member of audible.com - I have hundreds of books from there, and one of the best things is they are always available and I don't have to use up space to store them at home - just download whenever I want. And I look forward to my new credits each month like it was Christmas each time!

The one thing that can spoil an audio book is bad narration. Two examples come to mind (I won't say the book, just the problem). One is not editing out breathing, swallowing, and one time even BURPING by the narrator! Gross!! That interrupts the story so bad that makes it difficult to continue listening. But by the time I know this is going to happen, I have already bought the book and soldier through - but I keep note of that narrator and don't use them again!

The other thing is wrong accents - another thing that takes you out of the book. A book I listened to recently by my FAVORITE author had a narrator whose accents were so bad - the book was set in Maine, and not one of his accents for the characters, who were all born and raised in Maine, was a Maine accent. But there was a California surfer dude accent (apparently this narrator's version of how teenagers sound - even from small-town Maine), southern oil barons (this is what evil guys sounded like - again, even if born and raised in Maine) - and the WORST was the idea that apparently all children under teenage had stuffed noses - always.

With those two exceptions, I LOVE audio books! I can get twice as much done - I also love digital scrapbooking and knitting, and though I don't love it, my family sure appreciates my cleaning - so I can do any of that while listening to a book, and this way, I end up reading 200-250 books a year - which I LOVE!

But other than the fact that I listen to them, I do consider that reading. I mean, if somebody says, "Have you read the final installment of the Wicked series yet?" I say, "Yes!" - not, "No, but I listened to it." For very long, complicated books, I turn to Spark Notes in hopes that they have a guide for that book, just so I can understand what's going on (I'd never keep all those characters from War & Peace straight without my trusty Spark Notes!!). My brother says it's not really reading, but I'm certainly able to discuss any book he reads with him with intelligence, so ... it's reading to me!


Posted Dec. 05, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
jknapp

Join Date: 04/11/11

Posts: 37

RE: Which do you enjoy most - audio books or print?

I think I enjoy the printed format best because I am usually more focused when I read a printed book. However, I have enjoyed many audio books over the years especially when I traveled for business or pleasure. A good book is a good book but I will say the reader makes a big difference in an audio book


Posted Dec. 05, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 506

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RE: Which do you enjoy most - audio books or print?

I agree with Jennifer, bad narration is a real killer! Thankfully I've never come across a burp though!

Some years ago, when I was a member of Audible (I'm not anymore as I've got such a backlog of books to read for BookBrowse, plus our library has a great selection now) I downloaded a copy of War and Peace as a bonus book because it was so cheap. I can't remember how long the recording was but I remember calculating that (if I'd wanted to) I could have driven from San Francisco to New York, done a bit of sight-seeing around town and then driven to Florida all while listening to that one book! BUT I never got past the first chapter as the narration was just terrible - just a droning monotone, and the recording quality was poor as well. When I looked at the recording date it had been produced decades ago.

I have to respectfully disagree with Jennifer's brother that listening is not reading. Without a doubt, I "read" far more carefully when listening to a book than with a print version, as there's no possibility of skipping or speed reading. Each to their own I suppose but I wonder if Jennifer's brother would be so convinced in his opinion if he'd actually tried an audio book?


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