Daily Archives: May 22, 2009

Do you audio?

Some, slightly organized, thoughts on the world of audiobooks

Working at the library, I see a lot of people shy away from audiobooks when wanting to request an item that’s not on the shelves. Usually I get either a confused face, or an annoyed face at suggesting the audio version, which tends to have 100 less holds than the book. Even in the blogging world, I read a lot of reviews from people who listened to the book instead of reading it.

Do you audio? How so?

I’ve tried a couple times, but I can never really commit to it. I don’t know if its because the discs tend to be 12 hours long and I can only listen to them in 30 minute increments. Sometimes it feels like cheating, having the book read to me. Most of the time, my attention starts to wander and its more difficult rewinding through a disc than it is flipping back a couple of pages. A friend told me that her parents use audiobooks on long roadtrips. Since most of the family reads the same genre of books, they’ll listen to one disc, have a discussion, then pop in the next disc. This makes sense to me. Its like being in a traveling book club, cross country. Another friend of mine actually took this one step farther, and recorded her favorite movies onto cassette tape (yes, that’s right, audio only of a movie) and would listen to that on road trips.

If you do listen to audiobooks, how much does narration matter?

From the few audiobooks I’ve listened to, I’ve realized that the reader is perhaps the most important element to the story. Their intonation, tone of voice, pacing, all of that determines the mood and feel of the story. I wonder how the reader selection process goes? Does the author pick who reads? How often does the author read? Is there any author that does the narration for all of the audiobooks?

Audiobook trivia:

– No audio version exists for Catcher in Rye. JD Salinger won’t allow it.

Caedmon (now a subsidiary of Harper Collins Publishers) can be credited with having started the recordings of literature more than 50 years ago. (www.audiobookquest.com)

– Those early recordings were made onto vinyl records, then cassette tapes in the 1970’s, finally transferring over to CD and MP3 formats.

So you tell me, do you listen to audiobooks?