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Media => Books => Topic started by: Quetzalcoatl on November 01, 2015, 06:37:23 PM

Title: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on November 01, 2015, 06:37:23 PM
I understand that audio books are very efficient compared to classical reading. However, are there any drawbacks to it, in your view?
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: PANTS! on November 01, 2015, 06:58:13 PM
Yes.

You can't easily reread a sentence to get meaning. 

You can't flip back and forth between two related passages.  Especially a pain in prophecy heavy  fantasy novels. 

Sometimes the reader sucks ass

You have to pay attention or else you will turn around and be 2 chapters down the road, and have no idea what is going on.

I sometimes enjoy reading while listenjng to music.

There are others I am sure....
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: arthwollipot on November 01, 2015, 07:46:28 PM
I listen to too many podcasts to dedicate any of my listening time to audio books. Especially when my Kindle works just fine for me.

Also, when you're on limited downloads, a four-hour audio file may contribute towards blowing out your limit, and it can take a while to download on slow networks.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Ah.hell on November 01, 2015, 07:51:18 PM
You have to pay attention or else you will turn around and be 2 chapters down the road, and have no idea what is going on.

You can't easily reread a sentence to get meaning.
This is the biggest issue I have.  It's especially problematic with nonfiction so I pretty much read nonfiction and listen to fiction.

Also, as Pants said, a bad reader can make the best story unlistenable. 
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Johnny Slick on November 01, 2015, 08:39:23 PM
Yes.

You can't easily reread a sentence to get meaning. 

You can't flip back and forth between two related passages.  Especially a pain in prophecy heavy  fantasy novels. 

Sometimes the reader sucks ass

You have to pay attention or else you will turn around and be 2 chapters down the road, and have no idea what is going on.

I sometimes enjoy reading while listenjng to music.

There are others I am sure....
Even though I listen to a good deal of audiobooks for my narrative fiction I mostly agree with this. My one point of contention is with reading while listening to music. I just can't do it. Invariably I find myself tuning out the reading material and listening to the music instead, and then I lose my place / forget what I was reading.

I vastly prefer regular old reading for denser, non-narrative material but I actually prefer audiobooks at the moment because of the flip side of what you're saying: I read a lot of 19th century Victorian literature in college because that is what you do when you get a degree in English, and one thing I learned was that sometimes when a book is not written... I don't want to say "well" because a lot of the books I had to do this with are written just fine in a technical sense, it's just that stylistically they're pretty jarring compared to modern books. I see the same effect sometimes with translations. Anyway, what I learned was that if you just power through them, using something similar to what the speed-reading experts say you should do, you will actually remember a lot more of the book/characters/etc. than you might expect. In fact, once you get into a "groove" (closest term I can think of), you even stop noticing the style.

Where audiobooks really, really help with this is that they kind of force you to do this. If you *really* want to you can rewind the book but by and large the narrator just narrates and you have no choice but to follow along. The above method for me is sometimes hard to start, and sometimes, too, it's hard to get started every day you're reading the particular book.

As one example, I chose to listen to Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel rather than reading it. Wolf Hall is a work of historical fiction about one of Henry VIII's courtiers (a real life member of the court but I won't give away what happens to him). Wolf Hall is a modern book but there is a *very* large cast of characters. Now, I may have been helped a lot by knowing a lot of the cast in advance (again, English major), but there's also a really great extent to where if you just plow through a book like this and trust that you'll remember who everyone is, you'll come out just fine. Ditto Shelby Foote's MASSIVE 3-volume history of the Civil War, which is not fictional at *all* but is still very narrative-based. Again, massive cast of characters, lots and lots of moving parts, but if you trust your brain your brain will sort things out without you ducking out of the narrative to look stuff up.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: arthwollipot on November 01, 2015, 09:11:57 PM
Even though I listen to a good deal of audiobooks for my narrative fiction I mostly agree with this. My one point of contention is with reading while listening to music. I just can't do it. Invariably I find myself tuning out the reading material and listening to the music instead, and then I lose my place / forget what I was reading.

I've found through long experience that I can process words from one input at a time. So I can read while listening to instrumental music, but not music with words. It's why I listen to podcasts while I'm driving - driving doesn't use the "word-processing" part of my brain.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: amysrevenge on November 02, 2015, 12:51:16 AM
I do enjoy playing "Guess how that name is spelled" for certain SF/F books. I don't think I got a single one right for Ancillary Justice.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Sordid on November 02, 2015, 01:55:58 AM
In addition to what everyone else already said, audiobooks require an electronic device. Books can't run out of batteries.

You have to pay attention or else you will turn around and be 2 chapters down the road, and have no idea what is going on.

That's the big one, IMO. When you're reading a book, you're reading a book. You can't do anything else at the same time, so you're forced to pay attention. Audiobooks are great precisely because you can listen while doing something else, but that also means it's very easy to let your attention slip and miss things.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Harry Black on November 02, 2015, 08:47:20 AM
I think audiobooks are on the whole, excellent.
One disadvantage I find is that once you build up a collection, you need to start deleting things that may have been handy for reference. You could always download them again of course but then your bookmarks etc are gone.
Battery time is a good point (though in really hot climates I like kindle because paper books fall apart)
The other thing is that reading is a different activity in itself, enjoyable in its own right. I do love sitting in a cafe or bar with a whiskey or coffee and getting lost in a good book. If Im sitting there with earphones in, staring at the wall while I drink, then I dont feel so comfortable.
One of the few things I miss about 9-5 jobs was saturday afternoon in a diner with a book. And the chance that a person may ask a question about it and start an enjoyable conversation.
Edit- Quetz, you ask some awesome questions. We had a bumpy start but the forum feels more enjoyable with you on it these days.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Ah.hell on November 02, 2015, 09:39:13 AM
I do enjoy playing "Guess how that name is spelled" for certain SF/F books. I don't think I got a single one right for Ancillary Justice.
The reading version is guess how that name is pronounced.  I mostly read the Silmarillion by thinking to my self, Guy whose name starts with S and ends with uin.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Johnny Slick on November 02, 2015, 09:58:49 AM
I think audiobooks are on the whole, excellent.
One disadvantage I find is that once you build up a collection, you need to start deleting things that may have been handy for reference. You could always download them again of course but then your bookmarks etc are gone.
Battery time is a good point (though in really hot climates I like kindle because paper books fall apart)
The other thing is that reading is a different activity in itself, enjoyable in its own right. I do love sitting in a cafe or bar with a whiskey or coffee and getting lost in a good book. If Im sitting there with earphones in, staring at the wall while I drink, then I dont feel so comfortable.
One of the few things I miss about 9-5 jobs was saturday afternoon in a diner with a book. And the chance that a person may ask a question about it and start an enjoyable conversation.
Edit- Quetz, you ask some awesome questions. We had a bumpy start but the forum feels more enjoyable with you on it these days.
Yeah, I just plain don't buy physical books anymore, really. Either I'll get an audio version or I'll get something I can read on my Kindle/iPad. I imagine that you, like me, have to pack light (you probably moreso than I) and carting around a bunch of heavy books on the off chance that you might want to read one of them is not efficient. I think that at present I have I want to say 4 book books in my possession - 2 roleplaying gamebooks (which can be a chore to flip through and bookmark, although I will say that even at that I have done okayish with the game I'm GMing online right now, last week notwithstanding) and I think 2 books on writing I picked up a while ago but haven't really read through at the moment (maybe it's 3).
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Ah.hell on November 02, 2015, 10:02:15 AM
I still love the idea of real books even though I mostly read on my tablet and listen via audio. 
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: amysrevenge on November 02, 2015, 10:13:01 AM
I have thought about this - there's a "level of attention" spectrum.

Requires the most dedicated attention...........................................Requires the least dedicated attention
Reading a book........Audiobook...........Hardcore History.....................Any other podcast....................Music


The first obviously takes up almost all of my attention.

The second two I can do while walking, driving, taking transit, shopping.

The last two I can while working.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Harry Black on November 02, 2015, 10:44:19 AM
I still love the idea of real books even though I mostly read on my tablet and listen via audio.
I think because of star trek, I much prefer reading on a device.

Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on November 02, 2015, 03:24:40 PM
Yes.

You can't easily reread a sentence to get meaning. 

You can't flip back and forth between two related passages.  Especially a pain in prophecy heavy  fantasy novels. 

Sometimes the reader sucks ass

You have to pay attention or else you will turn around and be 2 chapters down the road, and have no idea what is going on.

I sometimes enjoy reading while listenjng to music.

There are others I am sure....

I agree with this. Some writings you need to actually read to get a clear overview of what is being conveyed, just not listening to it. At least I feel that way.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Gigas on November 03, 2015, 03:26:43 PM
My biggest complaint use to be that I couldn't bookmark or highlight an audiobook (at the time I used an ipod for my "reading"). But my ipods have all recently died and I had to switch to the audible app for android and it has a bookmark feature.

Bad narrators are definitely the biggest drawback. I generally like Stephen King's short stories and books but he opted to narrate some of them and it's a train wreck. Specifically: "Wind Through the Keyhole" and "On Writing" which are great books that are unreadable (listenable?) in the audiobook format.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: amysrevenge on November 03, 2015, 03:39:35 PM
I have a very broad tolerance for narrators, especially for good stories.  I listened to Wind Through the Keyhole and enjoyed it greatly, mostly because it was a good enough story that I got sucked in almost from the very beginning.  Minute 1 I was all like "really, this is how it's gonna be?" but by minute 5 I was sold.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Ah.hell on November 03, 2015, 03:43:30 PM
I still love the idea of real books even though I mostly read on my tablet and listen via audio.
I think because of star trek, I much prefer reading on a device.
I don't actually have a preference for reading actual books, I just like the idea of having books.  Its almost a fetish really.  I wish I could afford a home with a library.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: amysrevenge on November 03, 2015, 03:45:37 PM
BTW, if you want the best fantasy genre "narrated by the author" experience money can buy, grab Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Gerbig on November 03, 2015, 06:30:59 PM
You can get distracted away from an audiobook, its harder to do that with a physical book in your hands.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: brilligtove on November 28, 2015, 06:41:17 PM
The first audiobook I listened to was in podcast form. I loved it except for being completely surprised when it ended. Not by the ending - that it ended. There was no sense of how many "pages" to expect or how thin the right hand stack was getting. Now I listen to fiction and nonfiction, but pay attention to how much time is left.

I tend to binge listen, going through an entire series in a couple weeks. The Better Angels of Our Nature was one of the few books where I listened to sections more than once. Thinking, Fast and Slow was another.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Redamare on November 28, 2015, 11:00:52 PM
My biggest complaint use to be that I couldn't bookmark or highlight an audiobook (at the time I used an ipod for my "reading"). But my ipods have all recently died and I had to switch to the audible app for android and it has a bookmark feature.

Bad narrators are definitely the biggest drawback. I generally like Stephen King's short stories and books but he opted to narrate some of them and it's a train wreck. Specifically: "Wind Through the Keyhole" and "On Writing" which are great books that are unreadable (listenable?) in the audiobook format.

I mostly enjoy when the author reads the book. It feels more personal that way, particularly with Stephen King. I know his voice isn't the most melodious, but I like to think that I'm listening to him directly. One exception I will make is Dan Eagleman. Far from the worst narration I've ever heard, but I think he really should have handed Incognito off to someone else.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: RumbleFishTwist on December 29, 2015, 12:08:10 AM
I am a big big fan of audio books.  I listen at work, and have been through many, many books while I earn money.
As far as the drawback to not having bookmarks....I just use keep app on my phone to jot down where I am when switching between books.

Anyone have any favorites? 
Offhand I'd have to say Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series is my favorite.  Narrated by Patrick Tull.  I know many people prefer Simon Vance's narration, but I just couldn't get into it at all after hearing Tull.
20 books, 264+ hours. (11 days!)  Audio soap operas for dudes?
LOVE LOVE LOVE those books!
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: superdave on December 29, 2015, 09:23:04 AM
oddly enough,  I have enjoyed using my kindle's autonarration feature in lieu of audiobook (the book publishers were afraid of this and therefore some books have narration disabled).  I think because the computer voice is more bland and featureless, using the narrator is actually closer to reading for me than if there was a voice actor doing it.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Guillermo on December 29, 2015, 10:52:20 AM
I pretty much agree with every point in Pants post except with the music part, as I can't read with any audio cue in the background.

I'll add that sometimes you miss transitions in the novel. For example I've been reading Malazan Book of the Fallen in audio book, and the Narrator makes no pauses over any transition scene. And sometimes I'm like, How did Paran happen to be talking to Mallet when they are on opposite sides of the continent, when it's really not Paran talking. I think it's the Narrator's fault for not making a longer pause between the transitions, but it has happened to me on other audio books that do have longer pauses in transitions.

I have completely abandoned reading books. I picked up Starship Troopers, and started reading and felt utterly bored so i got the audiobook instead and enjoyed it thoroughly. I am also a slow reader. I sub-vocalize so my reading speed is the same as if I were reading out loud, which is about 100-150 words per minute. So, audiobooks tend to be slightly faster for me, and I can do some driving or mundane activities during those times.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 29, 2015, 11:44:52 AM
I generally listen at 1.5 or 2.0 speed so music makes pretty much zero sense. I still read read a fair amount though; in fact, I'm currently working my way through The Emperor of All Maladies, a Disappearing Spoon type book about the history of cancer and cancer treatment, which is pretty fascinating (and one thing you do lose from audiobooks that this book has in spades are footnotes and appendices). I don't feel like they replace normal books, really; for me, they just provide still another opportunity to "read" when I'm out walking or biking.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Friendly Angel on December 29, 2015, 12:30:05 PM
Drawback to audiobooks:  they put me to sleep.

Full disclosure:  reading print books puts me to sleep also.

I'm only good for about 10 pages, but the print book doesn't keep going when I konk out.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 29, 2015, 12:57:46 PM
Yeah, admittedly that's probably my #1 use for "print" books nowadays (full disclosure: I read all that crap on a Kindle): reading at night to fall asleep.
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Redamare on December 29, 2015, 01:58:37 PM
That would work better with traditional print. (http://chriskresser.com/how-artificial-light-is-wrecking-your-sleep-and-what-to-do-about-it/)
Title: Re: Drawbacks to audio books?
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 29, 2015, 02:09:50 PM
The new Kindle's backlighting is supposedly the best yet for that kind of thing. And I'm sorry, but however well "true print" may work, it doesn't work in one important way, which is that I can't just lay the book down and go right to sleep, I have to turn the lamp off too and sometimes that's *just* enough work to make me stay awake for another 15 minutes.