1. TheLizardfolk

    TheLizardfolk New Member

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    Thoughts on Audiobooks?

    Discussion in 'By Writing Form' started by TheLizardfolk, Oct 27, 2016.

    Hey all!

    Just curious on what everyone thinks of audiobooks? I know it's slowly becoming more and more of a thing now and I've seen some very polarized reactions to it. What do you guys think of it?
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I don't listen to them myself, but I think they are a really good thing. I personally know two people (one who is totally blind, the other who has eye issues that means she can't read) who use them all the time. If it weren't for audiobooks, these people would be cut off from books altogether. (The one who is partly sighted is actually a writer herself.)

    I think if I didn't have time to read, or spent a lot of time driving to and from work, I would love having them. I grew up listening to stories being read aloud (not just children's ones either) as well as reading for myself, so the notion of listening to somebody reading me a story? I can get into that.

    I know there are programmes (specifically the one on the newest Kindle Fire) that can read any printed material out loud as well. These are done by a computer, not a real person with a good reading voice, so they are a little bit weird—there is no vocal interpretation. But these are helpful as well.

    Nothing will directly replace reading for me, but if I couldn't read for some reason, I would have a huge library of audiobooks, and also a Kindle Fire!
     
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  3. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    I love audiobooks.

    I first discovered them at the airport as I had time to burn between flights. Went into one of those magazine/snack shops and there they were next to the paperback section. I thought, 'why not' and bought The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, and Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. It sure made a long flight more bearable. My job causes a lot of eyestrain and listening as opposed to reading a book is why I've stuck with audiobooks... one drawback, even the best book will put you to sleep after not too long. If you listen to audiobooks, you will never again need a sleeping aide to get to sleep!
     
  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I adore them. I listen to audiobooks most days on my commute, so that's two hours of reading time that I otherwise wouldn't get. I've got an Audible subscription that allows me two books a month.

    The narrator makes or breaks it. I'm currently listening to Silence of the Lambs and the narrator is very good - good pace, distinct-but-not-over-the-top voices for characters, no annoying quirks in his voice. But I had to return The Room because the narrator was awful - it's told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, and the narrator was a grown woman putting on a baby voice. Eurgh. I'm also struggling with a non-fiction one called A Thousand Years in a Day because the narrator talks too quickly. It takes longer to process auditory information than visual, so audiobooks have to be read much more slowly than one would read on the page.

    Because I'm always doing two things at once when listening - either driving and listening, or doing housework and listening, or playing games and listening - I frequently get distracted and realise I haven't been listening for half a minute or so. For that reason I generally choose either non-fiction, or books that I've already read on paper. Then I can pick the thread back up if I get distracted, without having to rewind all the time.
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    That reminds me. I've been meaning to ask. How are these books presented? I always assumed they were some kind of CD, but of course you'd need to be able to stop and start. How does that work? Are they still on tapes?
     
  6. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    I listen to audio books when I'm commuting, biking, running, doing housework, in bed... Basically in any situation where I can't or prefer not to take or hold a book. The only downside is that I find it harder to find an exact part or quote and I also mishear character and place names Especially when it's fantasy, I've no idea how certain names are supposed to be spelled. But it's not a big problem, just a tiny nuisance.
     
  7. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    I use Audible, so it's basically just a player with a few extra options, like you can go to a specific chapter, bookmark "pages", use the sleep timer so the narration will end, like, 15 minutes later... It's pretty handy. You download the book to your device (like a smartphone), or if you listen to something online, you just need an internet connection.
     
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  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Digital files, generally. There's an Amazon subsidiary called Audible that has a lot of the market - you create an account there and then download from your library to your device.

    I love 'em. Can't listen to my own stuff, can't read anything TOO heavy because it's hard to re-read, slow down, etc., but for genre fiction and light non-fiction? I use it a lot.
     
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  9. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    In addition to what the others have said, you can listen to them on your Mac as well as portable devices. There's free software you can download to access them on any device. I listen via iTunes on my computer, my iPod when out and about, and a USB stick in my car.

    I expect you can also still get CDs of some, but maybe not all, audiobooks.
     
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  10. Brindy

    Brindy Senior Member

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    I enjoy audio books, as long as the plot isn't too complicated. I'm with @Tenderiser on the voice - it's key. If the voice isn't right the book doesn't work for me either. I find I don't get as engrossed in an audio book as I do a written book, but they are useful on a busy commute/walk to work.
     
  11. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Audiobooks are also a great way to expand your horizons, listen to books on physics, paleontology, archeology, history, evolution, etc.
    I'm also a fan of curiosities and trivial information, and there's quite a few audiobooks that give me my fix!

    The other thing, if you belong to Audible.com you simply pay $14.95 a month for one book credit, pretty reasonable. They're always running special deals wherein you buy 3 credits for the price of 2, or 2-for-1, or a selection of books to choose from for only $4.95/each. Some writers release short stories for $2, some even offer a short story for free.
     
  12. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Do you have any favourites in those categories (besides evolution)? I would love to know more about branches of science I'm not as familiar with as biology.

    My favourites are:
    Chaos: Making a New Science (James Gleick)
    Mary Boleyn (Alison Weir) - probably only for people who have a particular interest in that period
    13 Things that Don't Make Sense (Michael Brooks) - science anomalies or mysteries still to be discovered

    Bill Bryson's A Short History of Everything is very accessible and the narrator is great. At Home is also interesting but he narrates it himself and his voice is very nasal. It doesn't bother me but I think it could easily be annoying!
     
  13. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    The very best book, the one that brings together all the various Life Sciences into one coherent, and invigorating presentation... is, A New History of Life, by Peter Ward & Joe Kirschvink. The problem I have with many of these science books, particularly in the field of astronomy, is with 'celebrity' scientists writing and narrating them. They have a long list of academic achievements, but none to speak of in the scientific discipline itself. I know you're asking for something 'besides evolution', but it's a love of mine so I can't resist!
    A New History of Life is written by working scientists who have great "street cred", and a gift for telling a very complicated "sciency" history in an accessible way.

    I've actually listened to, 13 Things that Don't Make Sense (Michael Brooks). If I'm remembering it correctly, one chapter was on the mysteries of Water, which you would not have expected going in. Another chapter covered 'The Placebo Effect' , another on 'Freewill'... amazing stuff, and scary stuff!


    For just plain laughs, I also recommend the Darwin Awards books, there are six altogether. Perfect for long boring trips.
     
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  14. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

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    It's a market and the more markets the better.
     
  15. TheLizardfolk

    TheLizardfolk New Member

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    Some really good posts! Thanks everyone :D

    I'm honestly a little inbetween with audiobooks. I actually find that my best experience with them are with nonfiction books, especially nonfiction books written with a particular thesis and not just a historical or factual survey or biography. When it comes to literature, I actually find myself a little hard to focus on the prose with a long time. Some simple books I can like The Faults in Our Stars, but when I start reading heavier stuff like Gravity's Rainbow I find myself losing concentration after a while.

    Which is weird because when it comes to Audio Plays and Audio Dramas I never have that problem unless the piece is horrifically boring.
     
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  16. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

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    I love the idea of audiobooks, but I have trouble finding really well executed ones

    For instance, I love Austen's Northanger Abbey, but every audiobook I've given a testing has these old women reading it off like a grocery list.

    There is sarcasm. There is tongue-in-cheek. You can't read it flat, one word after another, with no tonal fluctuation or stresses to correlate with the wit & humour & snark.

    It's like imagining having to listen to someone read Douglas' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the same way a stewardess gives emergency protocals or someone recounts the minutes of your last meeting.

    But a lot of the readers (or directors) have commitment issues when it comes to tone or stresses—because it does influence the interpretation of the work to some degree. I have a friend who never reads (unless I write it) but she for some unaccountable reason enjoys hearing me ramble. So the books I want to have her know, I send her audio clips of me reading one chapter at a time. I found it takes me about an hour to three to actually record me reading each chapter though, because how I say each line gives a sort of implication for how the story is going.

    I think often the readers of these audiobooks or those in charge of them are too afraid to insist on one tone or another, and so try to keep as much to the middle of the road as possible.

    However, I love having various audio readings of poetry. Whenever I had to study a poem for any of my literature classes, I downloaded, purchased, and YouTubed every different sort of person reading the same poem. An old, wizened woman. A young twelve year old boy. Some one from Liverpool. Someone from Harlem. Someone from Iceland. I found that because reading aloud influences interpretation & reflection based on the speaker's stresses I could actually get a lot out of it by hearing everyone's varying versions.
     
  17. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    I love them. I would never have clean plates without them.

    My only problem is that there is such a limited amount of books to get. I mostly listen to books in Swedish. Mainly because it's my first language, but also because I can stream (uh, right choice of word?) them for free through my local library's website. Problem is - it's hard to get other things than detective stories or thrillers. I've looked around on those pay sites, but it's the same thing. So I've listened through at least fifty books which I wasn't really a fan of. But my apartment is so much cleaner then it would be without.

    I know my parents listens to them while driving to work which is about an hour from where they live. It's hard to read in a car (I throw up from reading the road signs) and you get something out of the time you're otherwise "waste" just sitting in a car.

    I also get periods where I've got a hard time concentrating, so sometimes I won't be able to read (or write) for some times because I can't relax enough for it to work.

    A few years ago I would've said that it was only good for people who for different reasons can't read or have reading problems. But today I'd say that, even though I would see at least school kids actually READ, audio books are a good way to consume books when time or opportunity is lacking.
     
  18. sprirj

    sprirj Senior Member

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    Some of my happiest childhood memories were audio books. I know this sounds very sad, but they really stick in the mind as a child. You not only get to create images in your mind, as you do when you read, but you hear an emotion in the way a story is told, hear sound effects and music. The ones that really stayed with me was Kidnapped, Treasure Island and Hitchhikers Guide to the Gallaxy (although this was a radio show before the book).
     
  19. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I have Hitchhiker's read by Douglas Adams - not sure if that's the radio one, @sprirj? I like his reading (love the different voices) but wish he would slow down a bit. The manic pace does kind of suit the story, but I keep getting distracted by feeling breathless on his behalf.
     
  20. sprirj

    sprirj Senior Member

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    Oh no the radio version was by the bbc with Simon Jones as 'the book' it is a masterpiece in my eyes.
     
  21. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

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    See, I'm exactly the inverse

    I'm always so anxious because majority of readers read so slow and drawling and I'm just trying to get them to spit it out. I'm usually speeding up the playback by 1.5-2x

    I especially feel when novels are witty, they need to be read a bit quicker than the average narrative

    Then again, I also have to intentionally slow down my natural speech to communicate with most people, but my mouth will run marathons like they're sprints if left to its own devices. My friends always joke I could rap—if only I had a good or interesting voice or any musical talent whatever (unfortunately it takes more than keeping a beat & speed)
     
  22. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Can't drive without one. The library has an infinite amount here. I often get two or three before finding one that holds my interest and I take the others back. It depends on the reader, but also the story. It's useful to read some you don't like because you can see what it is that isn't working.
     
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  23. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Audio Books are a great thing. I like the Warhammer 40K series, cause of the sound effects and the voices.:D
    I think they are going to be around till the end. How awesome would it be to have someone reading your book
    to someone in some epic narrator voice, and then trying to do all the character voices on top of that?
    I say Audio Books are great thing, and have a lot of potential for people who don't have the time to
    sit back and read, but still want to have the ability to take in a book. :)
     
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  24. Seraph751

    Seraph751 If I fell down the rabbit hole... Contributor

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    Love them! I am a voracious "bookdragon" (lol!) and as I spend a lot of time driving due to my job, the audio books help me keep my sanity with all the crazies on the roads.
     
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