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Topic: Abridged vs Unabridged

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Subject: Abridged vs Unabridged
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 12:21 AM ET
Member Since: 10/1/2006
Posts: 38
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I have been listening to books on CD lately and I am just wondering what the difference is between the Abridged version and the Unabridged version of a book? I am wondering how the publisher chooses what parts to leave out to make it abridged? I just cant bring myself to listen to an abridged version because I feel like I would miss out on part of the book - is this a legit concern?


Date Posted: 5/30/2008 12:36 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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Very legit.  Daniel Boorstin's book Image discusses such horrific affronts to literature as abridgement.  The question of how a publisher or editor decides exactly what to leave out is the main crux.  I tend to believe there's no one between myself and the author who can decide what I need to read in order to take in the entire story.  I've abridgements that go so far as to openly admit that they removed or altered parts in order to make the material easier to understand.  Others feel they're removing the less exciting portions.  Regardless, when part of a painting is removed it is no longer the artist's actual work.  As far as I'm concerned the same goes for books, where I prefer to read exactly what the author intended to produce.  To remove a single word from a sentence changes that thought from it's original intent to something completely other.  Removing sentences, chapters, pages, etc...is a blasphemy against the literary arts.

Last Edited on: 5/30/08 12:37 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 2:05 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I don't like abridged audios either.  I always feel like something's missing. Supposedly they take out stuff that isn't integral to the story. But you can always tell there's something missing.  I try to tag the audios I've listened to as unabridged or abridged to help others. I usually tag with the name of the narrator.  So if you are looking specifically for unabridged books you can click on that tag and it'll bring up a whole bunch since a lot of people are using the same tag.  You can also add a condition that you only want unabridged audios when ordering them.  It's not always easy to tell if it's not in the description.  I always look them up on Amazon but that's not a sure thing either. 

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 3:56 AM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2008
Posts: 346
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I follow readers rather than books. So I pay more attention to that then to abridged/unabridged.

Take Prey by  Michael Crichton, for example. The abridged is about 7 hours long, while the unabridged is 14 or so. I listened to the shortened one because I love the reader. Later, I tried the unabridged. I got 10 minutes in before I wanted to murder the reader. I found the 'book' fascinating, while people who have actually read the book weren't all that fond (people I have talked to). So maybe the adridgement, in that case, was for the best? lol

Sianeka - ,
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 11:33 AM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2007
Posts: 6,630
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And some abridgements are approved by the author.  Some abridgements are very well done, thoughtfully planned out, while others are a hatchet job.  Some people prefer not to dedicate the amount of time needed for some unabridged versions, which can get quite lengthy.

It's just a matter of preference.  Don't feel bad if you only hear an abridged version, the book and unabridged versions are out there if you ever feel like you've missed something important.  But if you listened to the abridged version and enjoyed it, then all is good!  Move on to the next story, and don't worry too much about what you "missed"!

(Also, a note to the taggers:  you could also Edit Book Data if you know for certain which version an audio book is, and it would help us clean up the database, and make the book description more accurate for future members seeking information.  Also helpful if you could add the #cassettes or CDs, and the approximate running time! - *felt compelled to add this editing note, as I'm part of the Data Corrections team!*

Last Edited on: 5/30/08 11:35 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 12:28 PM ET
Member Since: 3/19/2007
Posts: 79
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I usually listen to the unabridged - even if they are really long (Diana Gabaldon clocked in at 32, 38 and 43! hours) but will sometimes listen to the abridged based on who is doing the reading.

For example, I thought the abridged The Time Travelers Wife read by Maggi-Meg Reed and Christopher Burns was MUCH better than the unabridged.

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 3:35 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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I generally prefer the abridged versions.  I listen on my commute, and anything over 6 or 7 hours takes me into the next week.  After a while I start feeling like I'm married to the book rather than just dating it!

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 5:20 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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Though it isn't so much of an issue here, there can be a significant cost difference in abridged vs. unabridged editions.  Shorter audiobooks can be as cheap as $20, while longer, unabridged items like Diana Gabaldon, as someone mentioned, can go for upwards of $80 retail. 

I do feel, personally, like I want to read/hear the story the way the author intended, but I'm a librarian, so I think I am probably biased.  There's no shame in abridged versions if that's what you prefer, or all you have time for.  Better to get an abridged version of the story than none at all.



Linda S. (thk) - ,
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2006
Posts: 317
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Just had a thought, possibly relevant.  Some books seem written more for print-reading (example, the page-long paragraphs, or complex language).  Others are just as good or better for listening.  Just like some books would "make good movies" pretty much as written, others not.

Perhaps a GOOD abridgement removes the parts that don't contribute that much to the listening experience, parts more oriented to the visual reader.

Subject: abridged vs. unabridged
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 10:46 PM ET
Member Since: 11/30/2007
Posts: 130
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I like the unabridged for my commute.  I actually look forward to listening to the book as the week goes on.  If it goes into the next week it gets even more interesting.  By the way,  my book shelf is exclusively audio books and I have 533 on there now.  Please go in and take a look.