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What are my thoughts on audiobooks?

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What are my thoughts on audiobooks?: 06/27/16


This morning I received a question via Twitter regarding my thoughts on audiobooks. As I stared at it for a second, still not quite awake, because it's summer and my place doesn't have AC, so getting a good night's sleep is difficult, I decided to leave the question alone before posting a shore and inane response. I could have said, "I like them!" and left it at that.

But after breakfast, coffee, and some painting (I'm on a tight deadline for an RFQ that's due during my family road trip) I realized I had a lot more to say than just "I like them."

Under the format tab of my navigation, I do have an audiobook list. Over the course of about three years, I reviewed 123 audiobooks. The last review I posted was in December, 2013. After an intense love affair with audiobooks, I suddenly stopped listening to them. There are a couple factors: I got a new car, my cataloging job ended, I rediscovered my love of music, and I started reading ebooks.

Before delving deeper into my short, hot love affair with audiobooks, let me step back and put my librarian hat on. Books are for reading and every reader has a book— a paraphrase of the Rangathan's rules of library science. Audiobooks make reading more accessible. Audiobooks are there for people who can't for one reason or another, read. They give readers another way of enjoying a book or to squeeze some extra reading time into their busy schedules (during commute time or during a family car trip). They can also be entertaining.

There are many different kinds of audiobooks. There are those read by a single performer. There are those read by an ensemble of readers, where each character has a unique voice and the book has a narrator. There are those with music and those without. There are also those read by their authors.

    My order of preference is as follows:
  1. Books read by their author
  2. Books read by a single narrator (especially if it's Barbara Rosenbladt, Stephen Briggs, or George Guidall)
  3. Books with a single reader and music
  4. Books with an ensemble cast (such as is done with many of Shannon Hale's books)

There are exceptions to this preference though. The best way to listen to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is with the original ensemble cast as it was originally a radio play. That the radio play happens to sound just like an audiobook with a few extra bells and whistles (and the most excellent Journey of the Sorcerer by the Eagles as its theme music and chapter / episode breaks).

But after three years, my life — my daily routine changed. The first big change was that we purchased a new car. The old car had many problems but it did have a five disc holder, making audiobooks the easiest thing to listen to in the car. The current car only has a single CD holder. The new car, though, has an amazing audio system and came with satellite radio and bluetooth synching to my phone. Great audio and easy access to my large collection of music made music listening more fun in the car.

I could of course put audiobooks on there too but I've had problems in the past with the audiobook tracks clogging up the playlists and accidentally randomizing. There's nothing quite like driving down the highway while the book is read out of order! As far as car trips go, both my children are older now and more set in their ways as to what kinds of books they like. They are now happier reading ebooks on their iPads than listening as a family to an audiobook.

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