Hi dear friends,
Today I wanted to have a little discussion with you about something that’s been nagging my mind.
Are audiobooks real books? And do you love them?
I will give you my two cents and hope you’ll return the courtesy and we will have a nice chat below. 😀
I have several problems with audiobooks that don’t make me really enjoy them…
1) I can’t listen to audiobooks and do something else.
I thought it was because English is not my mother language but I have the same difficulty with French! I learned to focus on the task at hand and forget the rest. If I am working and the radio is on I will miss some part of the podcast and conversations.
I know some listen to audiobooks while driving but when you drive in a small country filled with crazy drivers you have to stay focused or risk an accident! This is not the endless drives with no cars and no houses in sight that we had while visiting the West Coast!
I have to do a manual chore, repetitive BUT
Vaccuming? I won’t hear.
Cooking? I only cook on the weekends.
So it does not leave me with much listening time.
Conclusion: I have to just listen and look into the empty air. Do nothing else like I do while reading. But looking at nothing makes me look weird and ready for the loony bin! And I said nothing about my attention span worthy of a gnat when I just have to listen! Ooooh a fly! Oooh a beautiful butterfly. Ooohhhh …wait what did he just said?????
No problem to stay focused when my eyes are busy but only listening ….nope!
2) Many audiobooks are weird!
When I read a story, I imagine the voice, the faces of the characters.
Here it is forced upon me (I don’t have a choice in the voice) and it feels wrong. I even listened to an audiobook with the narrator imitating the noise of the rain with “SHHHHHHHH” and thunder with “Crack! Crack! Crack” or “Boom”! I was all “WTH is he doing?????”
The choice of the voice is made even worse when you have multiple POV and either only one voice to tell them all, either several voices that don’t match what I had in mind!
I am also wondering: what happens with sex scenes??? Do they make the noises and the moans? Doesn’t it feel embarrassing for the narrator while narrating all that? Does he or she feel hot and bothered????
The only audiobook that felt right was Becoming by Michelle Obama because SHE was telling me HER story! It was a fantastic book and for once I would recommend the audiobook vs the ebook of PB!
Another series of audiobooks that seem great and that my friend Angy made me discover are the “X Files” because we have multiple voices, the dialogs are quick and feel “natural” like watching one of these episods.
Just listen to this sample:
An audiobook is not something “physical” and they usually cost around 14 USD, more than many Paperbacks! I used to think they were overpriced and I still think it’s a big amount of money but after listening to “Becoming” while Michelle Obama talked for 18 hours I realized the narrators have to get paid!
That’s different from ebooks! So I accept the logic behind the price but it does not mean that they aren’t expensive.
I found a solution! You can find podcasts posting legally free audiobooks!
One of them is Read Me Romance and you can subscribe here: www.readmeromance.com
I will still listen to audiobooks and hope to find some good ones as I want to train my ears! I used to watch Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries or watch The Great British Bakeoff or The Voice UK but the kids have hijacked the television for one year now and my only hope to listen to English is though audiobooks or TV Shows (that I look at on my computer) like the De Generes show (I love that show!).
Now it’s your turn! Give me your thoughs.
Thanks for reading!
I’m the odd person out here compared to most of the commenters but I LOVE audiobooks. It’s the only way I’m willing to consume fiction. I just don’t have time to SIT and READ. I am a writer and it feels too much like my job and there is other stuff I need to do like cooking, cleaning, gardening, and exercising, all I can do while listening. Also enjoy to listen while soaking in the tub. Before audiobooks I used to be lucky if I read a single novel in a year. In the past two months alone I’ve listened to 18 audiobooks. Re: some of your points:
1. can’t listen and do something else: Listening to stories is an acquired skill just like reading them. You do have to train your brain a little but it improves your listening skills.
2. Sound effects are the exception, not the rule.I’ve never listened to an audiobook with sound effects. I’m sure they must exist. I don’t doubt your experience but this is REALLY not common. Most narrators don’t pretend to be foley artists. (I did hear a story once about a narrator who decided to eat a Dorito as a sound effect for eating a Dorito but… this is definitely NOT normal.)
3. Yes pricey, however audiobook listeners find lots of ways to save money. There are various deals at Audible and Audible gift cards which have a built in deal which takes your credit price down to $10 per credit. And there is of course the library option and there is a thing called Chirp where you can get audiobook sales. re: the narrator has to get paid… yes and the AUTHOR has to get paid, too. Let’s not forget, the words wouldn’t exist without the author and they don’t license their books for audio out of charity.
As a newbie to audio books I can relate to most of what you mentioned in your post. I
have a short attention span so listening to audio books on its own will not work for me as I tend to zone out after about fifteen minutes of listening. As for listening while doing something else, there has been some improvement in that area, but I still cannot listen to an entire audio book while engaged in another activity. Thank goodness for Whispersync for voice, that is how I get through audio books. Reading while listening.
I felt the same way. This is to weird to do. How do I focus on the book when I am doing other things. I have said this many times to myself and then my brother had some audiobooks (he loves them) and said listen to one and try it. What do you have to lose? The rest is history. I love it, especially when driving. It is better than listening to the radio. I get to be immersed in the story and imagine what its like to be there with them while I’m doing a mindless drive. I really love them. They are pricy but so is a lot of things in life. What is the difference if I pay 15 for a hardback or 15 for an audiobook? The audio I can access from anywhere. I love my print books best but I love a good audiobook. =)
I loved this post, even though I have NEVER bought an audiobook. My native language is Spanish and Amazon Spain (example), they offer a variety of audiobooks in the Spanish language. I handle a blog of reviews, and one day an author gave me an audiobook of a short novel to give my opinion. I wanted to die! I had to ask for it in writing because it was narrated in the most unreal way on the planet, with a Spanish voice that seemed archaic and very, very strange.
No. I did not like that experience, but I do not rule it out completely. Someday I will work with one, or maybe even listen to the audio books of my favorite books that are in English. It would be great.
I am lucky that my public library grants me access to lots of audiobooks. So, I don’t have to buy them. When I first encountered audiobooks, I didn’t understand why people would want to listen to them, but I found books that worked for me, and now I love them. I listen to them as I work, do chores, drive, etc. I struggled with SFF books, but contemporaries work really well for me. And, some narrators make “the noises”, and I can’t help but giggle during the sex scenes.
Well Sam I am not sure giggling during sex scenes is what the author is aiming for! :-D))))))
OMG, I can totally relate to this post! Audiobooks are not for me! I also can’t do listen to them books while doing something else and I agree with you on narrators making weird voices. They’re major turn-offs!
Pfew! I am happy to know that I am not the only odd one Raven! 😉
Great post and points Sophie! I have only recently begun to find ones to enjoy. In particular, the voices (especially male?) can hit me wrong if they’re not the right fit. Some also take me longer to listen to than others with the multi-tasking. I think it depends on the depth of the story really, and if I end up having the ‘squirrel’ syndrome have to limit when I listen. I also hate it when I don’t enjoy them and then wonder if I had read them instead if I would have rated it a lot higher. It’s just a toss up, but I hope you find some to enjoy!
Daisy I think I’d better stick to other genres than romance while listening. Like true stories, memoirs, suspense, crime etc.
In the beginning I had to focus until I retrained my brain. Not all audiobooks in fact most don’t have sound effects. Voices yes, but no outside noise. I wear noise reducing headphones and can even cut the lawn while listening. Keep at it!
Thanks for the pep talk Kimberly! I plan to keep trying and give it a fair chance before deciding if it is or not for me! I am currently building a wish list with audiobooks on Amazon!
I also used to only be able to stare at nothing while listening, but I guess I got better at it the more I’ve listened to. They’re still not my fave way of experiencing books, I have to be choosy because only certain types of books work for me in audio, but I do really like having something to listen to while I’m doing other things like making food. They are pricey though, so I get mine through online apps my library uses 🙂 But ugh, yes, it’s so frustrating when the narrator does voices badly because I always imagine diff voices for characters too!
Kristen I wish I could get them through online app from my library! Sadly our libraries don’t have English audiobooks (and I don’t even know if they do audiobooks!)
I am NOT a fan of audio books for most of the reasons you mentioned, Sophie. I cannot “listen” to them because I always, but ALWAYS fall asleep. I’ve tried a couple of times and like you said, it just feels weird. However, if they were broadcast over the radio, that’s a whole other, eh, story! Ha! Ha!
But, to the question, are audio recordings “books”? The answer is a definite NO! IMHO!
They are ‘performances’, like radio, and meant to be enjoyed in a wholly different way, than reading a book.
By their very definition a book is bound paper with written words on it. A ‘physical’ item you open and read. As such, I prefer to call them and think of them as “Audio Recordings” and not books.
A book is a book, right? 😀
Audio recording has a nice ring to it and I agree with you on the description! I am happy to know that I am not alone in this predicament Alexandra!
My library has audiobooks that I can download to my phone. This year, I’m trying very hard to listen to them. So far, I’ve finished 1 and a half audiobooks. I don’t have a car, so I listen to them while walking places. I do get distracted and have to rewind occasionally.
AJ I should listen while walking too but I “readwalk” already LOL
This is a really relatable post! I’ve tried listening to two audiobooks and only finished one. Audiobooks are really a little slow for me and listening to them at night makes me sleepy. Plus, it’s a little slow for me and I’m used to reading at a fast pace.
Erica I think I’ve found my next audiobook thanks to your post 😉
I completely agree with you! I tried one recently, but for the same reasons, I couldn’t focus after 20 minutes. It was a 300 page book, which would take me 3 hours to read, but 7 to 8 hours to listen to. I couldn’t justify that much extra time!
I know you are a very fast reader Jay so the audiobook would so not work for you!
I grew to love audiobooks. At first, I’m hesitant because I might not feel the same atmosphere as to reading the physical books but in the end, I enjoy it. I go for audiobooks for the genres I’m not a fan of like mystery/thrillers, classic and nonfiction. I listen to romance audiobooks too but I’m picky on the voice actors. Sometimes the book is good but the narration is horrible.
Bea I think it’s exactly the same with me and Romance, my favorite genre, does not work for me on audiobooks. But I think crimes or biographies or true stories would!
I enjoy audio books. I can listen to them while cleaning house, floating in the pool and I also do crosswords or jigsaw puzzles while listening. I used to listen to radio shows when I was younger. Wish they still did those! And audio dramas are my favorite now. Not a lot of them though.
Ha I wish I could listen to them while floating in a pool too Laura 😉
I wish I could get into audiobooks but I’m a very visual person so it makes it super hard for me to stay focused. I guess I could listen in the car but honestly I don’t normally drive alone…I’d have to share the radio with my kids and/or Mr. A and when the sex scenes start? Hmmm, I don’t think the kiddos would be comfortable with that, LOL!! 🙂
Bwahahaha yes sex scenes and the kids would not mix Trisy!!!!
I have only listened to one audiobook, but wish I had access to more. For some reason my library doesn’t have the best selection. I listened to this audiobook when I had a headache that went on for a couple of days and I just couldn’t concentrate enough to read anything, but listening to the audiobook was much easier. If I ever do listen one again, I will probably do so while putting away laundry or walking my dog.
Walking my dog while listening now that’s a great idea Alicia!
I simply cannot do audiobooks. I have a problem with attention span. I love reading way too much, and my own imagination.
Same here Jennifer!
I have a feeling audio-dramas would work better for, those are like the X-files audiobooks you described where it is like a full cast voice-acting out a story in your mind. They are so fun!
Personally, I love audiobooks. I run a lot of errands and do a lot of things where I’m working with my hands, so having something to listen to makes the time go quick. I have to say though, the narrator has to be good and the story has to be good in order for me to stay focused, otherwise it can be a struggle. Who they choose as a reader is important too – as you’ve pointed out, the person has to fit the character or else it’s just weird! But if they choose right, the voice actually becomes the character in my mind 🙂
Yes Mogsy I think you are right and drama or biography or true stories would work better for me. Romance? Not so much!
I used to dislike audiobooks. I could usually only get abridged. No thanks. This was also way before the Audible app and Kindle made it so easy. No need to store cassettes, the option of Unabridged. There are certainly things I’d much rather read myself than listen to. However, there are tons of things I enjoy now. I need white noise to fall asleep now, and sometimes I put on an audiobook of a familiar story instead of my fan. I have Sherlock Holmes stories read by Stephen Fry, and Benedict Cumberbatch, several books by Neil Gaiman, and a book read by Mark Gatiss, among others. Other times I’ll listen while I walk.
Sherlock Holmes read by Benedict must be awesome Julianna! I think crimes and mysteries would work better for me!
Listening to books is a new thing for me. I also can’t really anything else at the same time. Even listening while walking is a bit meh, cuz of all the noises.
When i like a narrator it’s when i don’t notice he/she is narrating. I just kinda see the story unfold in my head. The one making all those noises sounds proper weird 😀
My newest thing is to listen to them while i’m cooking or cleaning. I used to skip these tasks just so i can read. But now i kinda found a rythm with it. And neither cooking nor cleaning is actually distracting cuz i don’t really need to pay attention 😀
Well I should do that too except it does not take many time to cook or clean and I would go at a snail’s pace!
I’ve tried and failed with audiobooks. There’s no way I can focus and listen, at some point my thoughts always begin drifting and whole chapters go by without me even realizing. And that’s when I actually try to focus on the audiobook. It’s either that – or falling asleep. For some reason audiobooks make me super drowsy. Once I almost dropped of the chair at the airport while drinking a matcha latte thanks to a (super brilliant!) audio book version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Becks I have a theory: it reminds us when our mom or dad read the story at bed time! So we are conditioned to fall asleep while listening without doing anything else LOL
I feel a lot of similar issues with the voice aspect. I think I would definitely prefer non-fiction on audio, though I admit that I haven’t been brave enough to give *anything* a try yet. The money is an issue for me, and my library has an extensive wait on all the non-fiction audio currently on my tbr.
My library does not do English adiobooks pure and simple Katie!
I definitely think audiobooks count, you’re still “consuming” a story. However, I’m not a fan of them, or at least I haven’t found any audiobook that I enjoyed – and the ones I did try to listen to, I couldn’t finish
And I totally agree, they’re super expensive and I do not feel like paying that much for something I can’t even hold in my hands. I’d rather buy the book in physical format
Me too Vanessa but I am trying to give it a chance to train my ear!
I’ve tried twice and realised they are not for me! And pricey! I went to get a Kristen Ashley audio and it was £27. I was like whaaaaaaaaaat!
I LOVE audiobooks! I always have a regular book and an audiobook going at the same time. I listen to audiobooks when I’m cooking, driving, doing chores around the house, etc. I use powerbeats 3 wireless earbuds and I find with those, I can vacuum with no problems. I’ve been listening to them since before they were popular and I had to get them from the actual library…gasp! It took some time to get used to concentrating, but now I can with most. If I find myself drifting, I’ll just read it. Sometimes I cannot stand the reader and it gets dumped.
I don’t pay for any…I use overdrive from my library and monitor all of the new content weekly. They are too pricey to buy.
Tracey I wish I could rent them from hte library too! But ours don’t have any books in English!
Of course audiobooks count! I had/have the same problem, I’m easily distracted and often miss part of the narration. I have found two solutions that work for me though, I can listen to a podcast/bbc book at bedtime when I’m in bed and the lights are already out (surprisingly, I don’t fall asleep and my cat seems to like a soothing voice too) or in the bathtub while I’m having a soak (which I love, I can easily spend an hour in the water).
Oooh that’s a wonderful idea the podcast Inge! Is it a podcast on the bbc?