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Topic: Audio or print

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Subject: Audio or print
Date Posted: 1/2/2011 8:28 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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When I started reading everyone's December picks, plus their Book of the Year, I noticed the differentiation of print and audio.  I'm glad to see that (even though I didn't do it).  Also, since I don't listen to many audio books each month, I probably won't make that differentiation.  But, do you agree with me that there is such a difference?

There are some books that I instantly know that I want to read (in print) rather than listen to.  I'm not sure that I can actually explain why.  Also, I have listened to several audio books that I probably would not have read.  And then, maybe because I am doing other things as I listen, I will usually finish an audio book that I feel might not have been finished if I had been reading it.

Some of this may be the fact that I don't have a long commute in which to listen to books.  My listening is done as I do housework, in the car on short errands, and on the occasional longer driving trips.  I never sit down (except to drive) to listen.

Does anyone agree or disagree that you find a difference in reading as opposed to listening?

Date Posted: 1/2/2011 12:22 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 8,411
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I do pick certain books to listen to rather than to read.  Like books I'm not sure I'll like (Abraham Lincolm: Vampire Hunter- loved it on audio), or books with dialect (The Help- loved it on audio).  I usually look to see how the narrator is rated, too.  The only book I couldn't finish listening to was Reading Lolita in Tehran.  The narrator killed it for me. 

Date Posted: 1/2/2011 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2010
Posts: 1,206
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I have done 3 of the Outlander books on audio and love the dialect!  I listen just on short trips and road trips, it takes me awhile to finish each one.  I can't sit down or lie down to listen at home or I fall asleep - then I have to find where I was on the iPod.

Date Posted: 1/2/2011 6:24 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 601
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The decision to read or listen is also determined by availability.  Many of the books I'd like to read simply are not available in audio format.  I do have a long commute and have devoured many audio books that I probably would not have read, but they were available to buy or borrow.

Date Posted: 1/2/2011 10:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,601
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As others have said, there are a variety of things that influence whether I listen to a book or read in print.

The first consideration is availability. I don't buy or trade audio, so only download the MP3 version or CD version from the library. As Linda said, I have listened to some things I may not have otherwise just because they were available and I needed something to listen to.

Secondly, it depends on the reader. If I start listening to a book and the author's voice annoys me or something doesn't sit right, I stop listening--although I do try to give it an hour unless it's REALLY annoying--and pick up the print version instead. If the same author reads all the books in a series, I know I will just stick with the print version.

Thirdly, I've found that for whatever reason, I can't listen to non-fiction audio books and retain much of the information. Having someone read a story to you (or to me anyway) is much different than someone reading non-fiction, which sounds a bit too much like a teacher droning on and on. Although I was a straight-A student, most of my learning came from reading rather than listening in class, except in a few rare cases when the teacher had a gift and was really engaging.


Date Posted: 1/3/2011 10:55 AM ET
Member Since: 3/2/2008
Posts: 11
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Most definitely. I agree with you, there is a difference. In some books more than others. Lately audio books are the only way I get any reading done seeing as how I am in my car about 2 hours per day minimum! Audio books have been my lifeline. There have been several books I know I never would have read in print but I'm so glad I listened to (In the Place of Justice by Wilbert Rideau is a prime example) It got really slow at some parts simply because there's a lot about law; but I'm so glad I "read" it. It was a most excellent and fascinating book.

Some I think can be interchanged. I listened to Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger & the narration was absolutely beautiful. But I'm sure it would've been just as good if I'd read it in print.

Good narration really helps and can really make a book come alive. I love a good narrator just as much as I love a good writer.

If I choose not to listen to a book it's probably because I already own the book or because for some reason I just want to sit down with it and devour the printed pages.

Either way, books are great :) I think you'll all agree. I do love it when I find someone who loves audio as much as I do though. I grew up listening to radio drama so that's probably where I got my love for it.

Date Posted: 1/3/2011 11:39 AM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2009
Posts: 865
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There are certain books I will only have as an audiobook:

Orson Scott Cards Ender Series - were excellent books mostly because the audio was done so well.

Douglas Preston/Lincoln Childs - The Pendergast Series  - Again an excellent narrator, I would only want it as an audiobook.

Lee Child - The Jack Reacher Series  - I love Dick Hill (The Narrator) and it makes an excellent, raw, gripping story even better.

Only as books:

All of Alice Hoffman, Alice Munroe, JRR Tolkien, Margaret Atwood, Audrey Niffenegger.

Both as books and audiobooks:

Stephen King (even though I often bought the book after I listened to it)

Date Posted: 1/3/2011 12:59 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2010
Posts: 2,139
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Oh yes, I loooove audiobooks! I always have one going for running errands and my YMCA workouts. I also drive my DD to preschool three times a week, and that's a 35-40 minute round trip, so I can get in extra audiobook time then as well. :)

I like to choose audiobooks for those with accents/foreign characters the most because I love how the narrators do those. (Sarah's Key, Day After Night, The Book Thief - just to name a few really good ones).

I also like to get some "fluffy" reading in via audiobook. When I'm particularly stressed or just want a little more of an escape, a nice fiction audiobook is great to have around. :)

Date Posted: 1/8/2011 12:13 AM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2005
Posts: 7,781
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I like both as well.  I find I like to listen to books that are easier to read on audio and actually sit down to read books that may take more brain power.  Also, fantasy type books with maps and/or a glossary, and books with a lot of characters I'd rather sit & read.  With a lot of characters I can easily flip back and see details while with an audio that's pretty much impossible (at least for me).  I did start listening to the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz and then read one in the middle, and it just wasn't the same.  Same thing with J.A. Konrath's Whiskey Sour series -- except opposite.  I started reading those and then picked up an audio for book 3 and the voices just were not what I imagined them to be.  I went back to reading them.  And I agree, the narrator(s) can make or break an audio! 

Date Posted: 1/8/2011 5:22 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I like print and audio books.  I do find that I prefer some books in over audio and vice versa.  Still other books, I don't care how I get them.  I actually prefer more serious reads on audio.  I tend to get bored easily when reading a long, epic classic book in print.  But not on audio.  I guess everyone is different.