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  1. J♥Star
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    J♥Star Member

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    Do you consider listening to an audio book the same as reading a book?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by J♥Star, Jul 12, 2012.

    If someone said "did you read harry potter?" and you had listened to the audio book would you say yes or no? Not that it really matters much, but i was just curious what others here thought. I don't listen to audio books much, but when i do i tend to listen to a few chapters while i exercise and then read a few chapters. i haven't ever completely listened to an audio book all the way through. This is part of the reason why i find the question interesting. If someone asked me if i read harry potter and i had listened to some and read some i would just say that i read it. it seems weird to say "well i read some of it, then listened to some."
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think listening to the audiobook version counts as "reading" the book, for all practical purposes.
     
  3. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    You read them with your ears?

    I used to have Harry Potter on cassette tape. Very fond memories of that.
     
  4. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    There is a world of difference between reading and listening. When you listen you still get the story and concise infliction, but you are denied the printed context. And for writers that can be a huge turn off. Reading actively engages your mind; it isn't passive like listening. The patterns, the rhythms and language sink in far more readily for me when I read. I fall head first into the print and the world falls away.

    Listening to an audio book proves to be a herculean task; believe me, I've tried. I'm usually bored to tears in about five minutes, no matter how interesting the story. My fingers and eyes are not busy, leaving far too much room for distraction. My mind is just too active for them. Instead, I listen to music incessantly whether I'm reading or working on a writing project. It gives me the auditory stimulation, but with more fluid perimeters. I'm free to let my thoughts drift where they will.

    For some people they work very well, but I'm not one of them. Blame it on the fact that I have the attention span of a goldfish.

    - Darkkin, the Tedious
     
  5. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    I really like how you've described the differences between reading and listening, Darkkin, as well as why it's hard for you to listen instead of read. I am much the same; I have a few audiobooks that are lighthearted that I will listen to as I drift to sleep (music excites me too much to listen to at bedtime), but in general I prefer to actually read if I'm actively trying to understand a story.

    All the same, if someone asked if you'd "read" a book and you'd heard it on audio, I'd still say yes, maybe qualifying that it was an audiobook. The questioner is probably wondering if you are familiar with the plot, characters, etc, and hopefully you are, so I'd say yes, you've "read" it. I like Darkkin's distinctions and think that they're important to know, but for a simple conversation saying that you've "read" the book is accurate enough, yes.
     
  6. JonSpear360
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    JonSpear360 Member

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    I was never under the impression that people listened to audio books while just sitting there. I've listened to a few audiobook podcasts while at work (I have a physical, outdoors job at the moment) or while driving on roadtrips. In fact, I do all my podcast and audiobook listening while doing something else. It allows you to exercise the creative side of your mind while doing menial tasks. I listen to about 20-30 hours of podcasts a week, a good five hours or so of that being audio fiction!

    To answer your question, I'd say audio books = reading the book. You get all the same words, story, etc. It's more like reading the book than watching the movie, that's for sure. However, there will never be a substitution for the FEELING of READING a book for me. Listening just doesn't cut it. It creates a different memory than reading, a good memory, but a different memory.
     
  7. Quabajazzi
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    Quabajazzi Member

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    I think it might be technically reading a book, sort of how when you were little your parents might read to you, but I found that when I read a book myself I read in their 'character voices' (am I the only person who now reads harry potter and every time Professor McGonagall or Snape says something, I read it in their voice?)
     
  8. Citizen Gallagher
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    Citizen Gallagher Member

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    I'm kind of in the same camp as Darkkin. I find listening too passive. I tried the audio book of Richard Dawkins The Magic of Reality and my mind just kept wandering to the point where I had to continually re-listen to the chapters. I eventually gave it up as a bad job and bought the book.
    Listening tends to free up my thoughts and allows my creative side to stir; I, too, listen to music whilst writing.
    The actual, physical reading of a book, however, engages me completely and allows me to hear the dialogue and descriptions naturally as the story plays out in my imagination.
    I suppose you could say that, in a sense, you had read the book via audio, but not in the traditional sense. More of a participation in a storytelling experience.
     
  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think audio book could be good for people who really cannot sit down. Audio books are kinda for the busybody, if you get me. Therefore, I see reading - actually reading - as a luxury. You'd only listen to an audio book if you have no time at all to sit down, and rest - it's a second best alternative, better than nothing kinda option. Reading is resting, is relaxing, and if I'm doing something else while listening to an audio book, then I'm clearly not resting, because if I'm resting, then why would not I rather sit down and enjoy the printed text and the quiet that comes with reading?

    But that's just me. As for your question, for all practical purposes, as someone else has said, yeh I'd say you've read it if you've listened to the audio book, especially if you've really listened and can tell me the story and details and discuss it.
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I've listened to a few free audiobooks, but not too many. I like them but I always feel like I've missed out on something after finishing one, though they can be helpful with poetry and reading it as you go along. It helps pick up rhythms and other subtle things you just do miss when reading quietly. Sometimes.
     
  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is an interesting question. The first issue I need to get out of the way is to confirm that the reader/listener is listening to the unabridged version of the book, which I think most audiobooks these days are. A while ago, many of them were abridged versions. (Note: I suppose this mostly applies to nonfiction works.) I had one that was so abridged that all meaning was taken out of the book. It was a book about the civil rights era, and the physical book was many hundreds of pages. The audio book was so shortened that I felt like I had listened to an elementary school film treatment of the subject.

    So, assuming we're talking about the word for word reading of the book aloud, I think it "counts" as having read the book, although it is different. Most often, when someone has heard it on audio, this information is revealed, indicating that there is a difference. (i.e. Did you read this book? Yes, I listened to it on audio.)

    Often in our book club, someone will have listened to the book on audio instead of reading it and there is almost always some sort of difference in interpretation. This often stems from the quality of the narrator, and the ability to give different voices to different characters, etc. Listening to books can be a great option if someone has a lot of time when the can think but can't physically read a book (for example, someone who does a lot of driving, or is doing some other physical task but can listen to an ipod, as has been mentioned.)

    But I realize that I've given my son some audio books because I want him to listen to them while he is falling asleep. I've done this for a while (he is 8), and I liked that it helped him develop listening skills, and become familiar with stories, etc, while he was drifting off to sleep. (I also figured it was a good way for him to become familiar with vocabulary when the books were slightly above his reading level, and he therefore could not actually read the book without my help, but he could listen to the story.) It also entertains him if he is not sleepy. But I still want him to actually read the physical books -- I'm not sure why I want this. I guess because I realize that they do involve different skill sets and I want him to develop good reading habits.

    Personally, I feel like if there is a book I am really excited to read, I want the physical experience of reading the actual book, and I don't really want the audio version, because I want the experience of reading it. (Again, this might be different if I were in a situation where I had a lot of time available to listen to books but very little time to read a book.)

    I also might note that this is tangentially related to the issue of ebooks vs. paper books. I recently read a very interesting article that said studies have shown that retention is less when a book is read in electronic format instead of on paper. Anecdotally, a lot of people I know find they don't interact with novels as well when reading them electronically. I personally am having a hard time converting to ebooks, despite my husband getting me a kindle and any books I really want I stubbornly insist on owning a physical copy.

    As far as audiobooks, the issue of information retention could be relevant also to people who are more visual, as opposed to auditory, learners.
     
  12. Ricegirl
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    Ricegirl New Member

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    I believe that listening to a book is the equivalent to reading it. Several posts below seem to reflect negatively toward audio books. Years ago, I had a 2 hour commute to work every morning and a 2 hour commute every evening. I would pass through several radio station areas and at times had very little reception at all. I was grateful for audio books as they helped keep me awake. And, to be perfectly honest, I have always enjoyed being read to as that is how my mother introduced me to books - every night she would read to me at bedtime. Later, after I learned to read, it was our custom to read together before going to sleep at night. I especially like the fact that the audio books of today are nothing in comparision to the books for the visually impaired of the 1960's.
     
  13. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    No. It's not the same. It may be fun or equally beneficial in some way, but it's not really the same thing. Reading with your eyes is a different skill than listening with your ears, on a purely mental level. I personally like regular books better, as I can cherish them and read them at my own speed. Being distracted from my book is easy to deal with, as I can go back to the page. Audio books have to be rewound back to where you were. Also, I get distracted if the reader has a weird voice. But they are fun for long car rides and stuff.
     
  14. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    I will often read a chapter of the book first then listen to the audio. My doctors told me that I should be able to interpret written text better than audio because of my hearing impairment. However I listen to the chapter to get a better understanding on what is going on.
     
  15. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    I really struggle to listen to fiction audiobooks and follow along, nothing sinks in. It's weird, because I listen to things like David Sedaris' books and various podcasts of radio shows and I follow just fine, but With fiction I have to read or I'll drift off or forget what's happened. I get really irritated by stupid voices narrators do for different characters too, which doesn't help :)
     
  16. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^ Yeah, same, nothing sinks in when I listen to something and I usually zone out (It was okay when I was younger though). I wouldn't be too bad for half an hour or so though.

    Same! I couldn't get into the books when first trying to read them so we got the first three books on cassette tape.
     
  17. El Chacal
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    El Chacal New Member

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    Nope.
     
  18. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't really say it's the same, for some of the same reasons listed. It's passive - reading is not passive. But then, I've never been able to listen to books. I can't just sit there and listen, and if I'm doing something while listening(esp driving), my attention is not completely on the audio. It can't be. So there are going to be things missed. Not to mention that whoever is narrating is going to put their own interpretation into intonations and such - I prefer my own.
     
  19. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    I've never listened to an audio book. I suppose I like reading a book at my own pace. Never the less, I think there are benefits to both and though it may not be the same as reading, I'd say it's just a different way of absorbing the story. If I had a job where I drove a lot I think I'd consider audio books.
     
  20. Iron Orchid
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    Iron Orchid Member

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    This is an interesting discussion for me, I've never really thought about it before too deeply, though I have been asked if I have read something and replied "yes" when I have listened to it on audiobook.

    After reading what people have said, I have to say that my initial reaction is yes, you have "read" the book if you've listened to it on audio, though it is a little different. I don't think it is as hugely different as some people feel, but I can see both sides clearly.

    Personally, I love books. The physical thing itself, the smell the feel of the paper all adds to reading for me, and the scenes and characters are given their own images and voices in my mind as to how I think the author is trying to describe them. The better the book, the better the images, bordering onto a little universe in my head for my favourite books.

    On the other side, I have had a lot of exposure over the years to audiobooks as my mum is blind. When she was younger, she was like me, an avid reader of anything that she could get her hands on and it really pained her when she lost her sight that she lost out on one of her favourite things to do. From an early age I remember my mum getting audiobooks on free loan from the local library and often complaining about the lack of choice and quality of book they used to have.
    In more recent years she has praised the increase in quality of recordings, the amount of books now available on audio and the fact that they are now mostly unabridged compared with mostly abridged 5 or so years ago.

    I found myself caught up listening to the Harry Potter books when my mum managed to get them on loan, partly because of a quality narrator in Stephen Fry (compared to some of the very boring unknown voice actors used in older audio books) and partly because it was given life in his little performance that was so similar to what I had already imagined the characters to be like. I read the first Harry Potter not long after it first came out and long before the movies were made, and I had a deep attachment to the characters as they were around the same age as me at the time.

    All in all I have to say audiobooks can be as good as a physical book if they are done well, unabridged and read by someone with an engaging voice, but having said that, having someone read you a story can often take away the personal little world you can imagine in your own head when all you have is the text to guide you.
     
  21. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I used to have a fifty minute bus journey into work, coming home from work in the rush hour could last even longer - most of the journey back I could be standing. Reading on a bus can make me nauseous - I used to get audio books from the library to listen to and pass the time on the bus.

    Although you do not get the same benefit from listening as you do from reading (from a writer's prospect) it is a good way to devour more stories and what's more I enjoyed them. They are also good to have playing in the background while doing the housework - multitasking at its best;)
     
  22. MVP
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    I had a 6 hour drive ahead of me, decided to listen to LOTR collection on audio. It was my first audio book experience. And after 10 minutes, it was my last audio book experience. It put me right to sleep. The End.
     
  23. CroZ
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    CroZ Member

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    No. I do it rarely when I want to sleep, or listen to them after I've read the book to get a better feel of it.
     
  24. Antigone
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    I would say it "counts" but not better than a book. Because each person is different in reading, one would not likely get as much out of listening to a book. Some may read faster, some may like to look up some vocabulary he or she doesn't recognize (a bit harder to discern when listening), and if there are uniquely spelled names, listening to the name wouldn't really show that.
     
  25. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    But if that's the answer then shouldn't you just say it as it is?

    I consider them to be completely different activities with neither being "better" than the other.
     
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