Thursday, August 16, 2007

Audio book listeners are cheaters

Andrew Adam Newman in the New York Times finds out that many ardent readers look on audio books as cheating. He gives the example of a librarian who admitted to her book club that instead of reading their book selection, she had listened to an audio version. Her statement, she says, was met with silence, till a snotty stuck up art teacher told her it was a total cop-out and compared it to painting by numbers. :/ Another audio book listener met the same criticism when a man in his 70s reacted as if she’d been reading CliffsNotes:

“He said: ‘It doesn’t count if you listened to it. That’s cheating.’”

Er, okay. I only have 9 audio books: Welcome to Temptation, Harry Potter series, and The Dirty Girl’s Social Club. I love listening to HP—love love LOOOOVE IT. I listen to it all the time: while in the car, shopping, getting ready for world domination, watching my love slaves rub my feet or bring me martinis, etc. Not exactly better than reading, yet not less enjoyable either. Listening to the magnificent Jim Dale delights me; I see it as another way—a wonderful one—of experiencing Harry’s world.

Now, TDGSC is the only one I’ve listened to that I’ve never read as I couldn’t find it in print. At first, it felt weird; it would be ridiculous (as Trollop pointed out to me) to say that reading and listening are the same, but it’s the same result in terms of learning something and actually knowing the story and, most importantly, using your imagination. I suppose it’s like kissing Raoul, and Raoul eating Nutella off of me—the same outcome really, mmm mmmm... *g*

I think audio books are godsend. Think of old people, or those who find reading a struggle like dyslexics, or illiterate or blind people or plain old lazy ones like Trollop—or these boys—for crying out loud, think of these boys!!!

Hee. :P Anyway, what has been your experience with audio books? Do you consider listening to books as reading it? Is it cheating, like watching the movie instead of reading the book? Do you really get as much out of a book if you read instead of listen? Are you an avid book lover if you don’t actually read the words but listen to them?


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36 comment(s):

Blogger Midas said...

That's just bullshit! A book's a book. Besides, for people who desperately wants to read, but life happens when there's like 5 children? So audiobooks for me counts as a book. You spend time on it, don't you?

I can catch up on laundry, and do all other mommy stuff listening to audio, except sex, because that wouldn't be nice isn't it?

8/16/2007 09:08:00 AM  

Blogger Mailyn said...

Personally I only listen to audio books if I've already read because I like the reading experience. I don't know it feels different somehow. I guess I am paying more attention when I read? LOL.

But I do LOVE some audio books like the HP series, Lemony Snicket and the Spiderwick Chronicles.

8/16/2007 09:12:00 AM  

Anonymous Shoshana said...

I guess it's like being in labor. Some people are pro-epidural, some are not. But the it ends the same. A baby.

Hey, is this was they call the "purist" in reading world? Gotta read the print or the book isn't count as read?

Yeah, I'm thinking of these boys....we don't want them to feel deprived!

8/16/2007 09:12:00 AM  

Blogger Missy said...

For sure those boys must keep the right to keep listening!

I don't think it's an exact comparison. For me it's more like another option, like books and movies - none is necessarily better or less than the other because they're all enjoyable for different reasons.

8/16/2007 09:15:00 AM  

Blogger Marg said... to love book snobs!

Listening to audio books is a different experience to reading it but in some cases it enables me to savour books because I read much fast than they talk!

8/16/2007 09:20:00 AM  

Blogger Petra said...

I agree with Midas, a book is a book. But I'm like Marg, I read the book first and if I like it and it's within my budget I get the audio book next.

I usually do my knitting while listening to audio book. It's amazing that you can now enjoy a book while doing something else. And what about those long boring road trips eh? For me audio books make them more tolerable.

PS: Those boys must have the right to listen to audio books without being called a cheater!

8/16/2007 10:22:00 AM  

Anonymous Pepepr said...

Personally, I would rather read the book, but I do borrow audio books frequently since I work on a horse farm. Audio books have kept me from going crazy while I am at the farm by myself all day! I don't think it is cheating, unless you get the abriged version! I don't think my fiance would even walk into a Borders store if there were no audio books.

8/16/2007 10:32:00 AM  

Blogger Harlot said...

They say doing laundry and listening to audio book make a great combination. Makes doing laundry endurable, i suppose. :P

8/16/2007 11:01:00 AM  

Anonymous Babz said...

I personally can't seem to pay attention to actually listen to an audio book, but I don't see the difference. The point is, we use our imaginations when we either read or listen to a book, which is the difference between reading and watching tv, right?

Anyways, for trying to post this comment for the umpteenth time, I get dibs on that Sailor up there.

8/16/2007 11:18:00 AM  

Blogger raspberry swyrl said...

I would perfer to read the book then hear it the only exception for me was Neil Gaiman's shorter works, like for Coraline because he did the actual voice recording and I love his voice and when he reads it, (doing funny accents for the characters and all) it's like this is what was in his head when he was writing it!

8/16/2007 12:13:00 PM  

Anonymous karamia said...

Okay, I must admit that I have felt like listening to a book is a bit like cheating. I know, I am snotty and stuck up. And now I will rethink it.
I have only listened to a book once and hated it. And there is a lot going on in my house so that it makes it hard to not miss things in the story.
So my snobbery is a bit reformed! At least on this issue.

8/16/2007 12:19:00 PM  

Anonymous donna said...

Back in the dark ages (80s-90s?) at the local library, I remember checking out the audio unabridged Jean Auel Earth Children series.

They were cassette tapes and you had to switch the speaker balance left and right to somehow listen and relisten to the sides. Anybody remember those? Needed an absolute satchel to carry them all. And there was this echo. yuck.

I like both formats, but it would be awful if there were no books to snuggle up with.

There's a Vernor Vinge sci fi called Rainbows End with libraries being shredded and burned and everything being put 'online'. Don't like that idea. Good book tho.

Sigh. After finding that I stupidly left my windows slightly open on auto in the rain last night, decided no school today, will treat myself to rainy-reading The Historian just a bit.

Car will dry itself out somehow I'm sure :( sulk. Where are those car wash guys?

But MUST study online and finish syllabus section by tonite.
Absolutely HAVE to. Gotta Do It. Really. Truly.

8/16/2007 12:24:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Have you seen this? More pics of "that Sailor". He's Farm Boy to me. :P

Raspberry Swirl,
OMG i didn't know Neil Gaiman did the reading on his Caroline audio book! Thanks for that. :D

Any other author who did the voice recording for their own book?

We still luuuve you. :D You know, i didn't really like Welcome to Temptation's audio. Dunno.. but that book is one of my favorite romances evah. Love Phin. *sigh*

Cassette tapes, hee. Every time this term is mentioned i remember Lloyd Dobler. :P

8/16/2007 12:45:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Now that you mention it, i think reading abridged is sort of cheating. :/ But hmmm, actually i can't remember even reading an abridged book or owning one for that matter. I simply don't buy them because, maybe this is silly but i'm afraid there will be missing parts. Like getting a book with missing pages or something. :S Or i'm being paranoid. LOL

Oh i never thought of the Lemony Snicket books! THose will be fab to listen to!

For me, seeing the movie cannot be the same as reading the book. Especially when these movies were so different from the novels they were adapted from. You're right though, they're all enjoyable in different reasons. (But usually, i prefer the book. :/)

I've never listened to an audio book with a sex scene in it. My WTT audio is abridged. (Oh. Ok, i just realised this is probably why i didn't like it. LOL) Wonder how they do with all the moaning and stuff. :P

8/16/2007 12:58:00 PM  

Anonymous Babz said...

I saw that post before I was a poster here, THAT'S HIM??!?

Omg omg those thighs those thighs. *drool*

8/16/2007 01:11:00 PM  

Anonymous donna said...

every woman should have a lloyd dobler in her life somewhere :)

8/16/2007 01:23:00 PM  

Blogger December/Stacia said...

I can't listen to a book I've never read--my mind wanders too much.

8/16/2007 01:38:00 PM  

Blogger Dark Dreamer 8 said...

I don't consider it cheating since I do both, read and listen. I'm able to listen to audio books at work, so normally I'll read what I want and listen to things that I've either:

1. read before--so I can reread/listen to stuff I like and get to "read" new things

2. I'll listen to audio books of works that I don't know if I'll like --that way I don't feel like I've wasted my time reading what might be crap.

I've always worried about audio books "not counting" as reading, but its utter nonsense. I get the same thing out of listening to a book as I do reading a book-- hell, sometimes even more. Granted I'd still prefer reading to listening, but its a great alternative if I'm unable to read.

8/16/2007 02:00:00 PM  

Blogger Aradia said...

I think it depends on people and no one should force others to read! So no, I guess those book club people were jealous that they didn’t think of audio books themselves! LOL
I like reading more than listening. I have a photographic memory so when I read something I remember it much better than when I listen to it! And also, when I read I can imagine and build the story like a movie in my mind (one that I’m the producer of) but when I listen to audio book, it’s like watching an other world already made, the characters and voices already chosen. I like to be in charge of my imagined worlds; therefore I like to read books! Also, I’m a fast reader, audios are to slow-paced for me!

8/16/2007 02:33:00 PM  

Blogger Midas said...

They moan all the moaning...I guess you haven't listened to Linda Howard's?

8/16/2007 02:41:00 PM  

Blogger Nicole V Lozano said...

It counts. It's just different...not better nor worse...just different. It like the comment about childbirth, that said in the end the result is the same. And who cares what other people think about it anyway. You have to do what works for you and that may be different at different times, with different books. That's what I think anyway...

8/16/2007 04:23:00 PM  

Anonymous Ollenska said...

It is not cheating! Audio books are another fine tradition of telling a story. Who cares how you get your JK Rowling or Jane Austen or Dan Brown?

Printed words will always have an appeal but I find that audio books have a different depth and character all their own. And like Raspberry said, if the author is the one reading, much better. The listener get a greater insight into the author's work.


8/16/2007 04:32:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

For crying out loud IT'S THE SAME BLOODY THING. You use different senses but the end result is THE EXACT SAME THING. Unless its the abridged version, now THAT is cheating (and a bit pointless if you ask me LOL).

You will use your imagination the same way, you will be listening to the same thing that was written down, you will know the story step by step just as the author intended it, the only difference is that someone else is reading it for you; Like a bed time story for a kid.

I both like to read and listen. I walk a lot and that time would be wasted if I werent using it for something that I enjoy and is actually constructive, so I listen to audio as I can't obviously both walk somewhere and read a book at the same time. Yet at home (unless I'm doing chores) I would rather lie down with a book. I also enjoy listening when I can't sleep. I turn off the lights, lie in bed and listen to an audio book until I fall asleep. LOVE IT.

8/16/2007 04:59:00 PM  

Blogger Third Shift said...

What now? There are books made better by audio and those made worse by videos. Even in for the same work in print, for example compare and contrast Bill Burford's "Heat", unabridged read by Michael Kramer, and abridged, read by the author himself. WORLDS apart, I tell you. The inflection and nuance in the reader's voice can breathe life into a work or give it the kiss of death. Have these uppity snots listened to Jeremy Iron read Lolita? No? Then they should shut their yaps.

Sorry ... err ... what I really meant to say was, err ... nice blog.

8/16/2007 05:44:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

Is it "cheating" if the person is blind?

I prefer reading a book than listening to one. That doesn't mean I think those who like to listen to audio books are cheaters. Why should someone else's preference be viewed as cheating?

I listen to audiobooks on the road, where I get headaches if I try to read. I think of them as a nice convenience because they allow me to spend time "reading" that I wouldn't be able to otherwise.

8/16/2007 06:36:00 PM  

Blogger Menchie said...

I also think it's the same thing -- just a different means to an end.

Though personally, I can't do audio books -- I tune out too much and get distracted from listening.

8/16/2007 07:07:00 PM  

Anonymous karamia said...

Third shift- OOOhhh, I think listening to Jeremy Iron do anything would be pretty good, but I really might be convinced listening to him read Lolita.
Great suggestion!
I guess I like listening to the characters' voices in my own head and making my own "movie" as well. But I can understand that audio is perfect for some.
I agree that it's just a different mean to the same end. I never had really thought about it before.

8/16/2007 07:39:00 PM  

Anonymous Lindsey said...

Do you get as much out of a book if you read instead of listen?

I love audio books. I listen to them while I'm driving or at the office and then I read when I'm at home.

I get a lot more out of the book while listening, since the narrator has me listening to parts that I would read right over. I find myself in-the-moment much more when I'm listening.

However, sometimes it is frustrating to listen to audio books since I miss names or some detail. It's not easy to go back and "reread a paragraph", unlike with a printed book, you can skim back through its pages to look for clues that you missed. But I'm getting the knack of hitting reverse to re-listen. ;)

8/16/2007 08:30:00 PM  

Blogger Monster Library Student said...

I guess I am lame...I would be mad is like making wine with your toes compared to just buying a damn bottle at the store.

8/16/2007 08:33:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

Ohh. That's a good recommendation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline and Jemery Iron reading Lolita. Thanks!

8/16/2007 09:00:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

Midas, I love Linda Howard. What book of hers has a good audio version? I'm not pertaining to the moaning part, though that would be a plus. :P

8/16/2007 09:02:00 PM  

Blogger Lily Moon said...

I feel guilty about listening to audio books when I'm supposed to be reading it. With that said, I think some prose is meant to be read while some is meant to be heard.

For example, I'm listening to Cold Mountain read by the author himself Charles Frazier. I've been reading the book and then listening but the expereince is different. I notice that I pay attention differently when I'm listening to it. I don't mean I pay attention more but when I'm reading, I see all the detail about the scenery and the color of the sky and glistening leaves....the book is very heavy with description. But when I'm listening, I experience it as a story someone is telling me.

Listening to a book doesn't make it less enlightening, but it does shrinks that bit.

8/16/2007 10:26:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

It's funny, I wouldn't drive or exercise if I didn't have audiobooks. I don't think the reader loses anything by "reading" a book this way. In fact, I remember better when I've listened to the book than when I've read it.

8/17/2007 01:28:00 PM  

Blogger Tara Champagne Dean said...

I love both. You can't compare an audio book to actually reading the book, but it doesn't make you a 'cheater' if you listen to it rather than read it. Someone else already said, but what about older people and dyslexics? I listen to a lot of audio books after my surgeries because I didn't have the energy or the right mind set to actually pick up a book and read it. So, I have nothing agaisnt audio books :)

I agree with the HP audio books, he reads them so well, very enjoyable. My Mom and I were killing ourselves laughing at his renditions when I was in the hospital.

Okay, so I kind of babbled. All in all: audio books are not cheating, it just a different experience and a different way of awaking the imagination :)

8/17/2007 08:42:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a hot crock of shit! I do read but when I can't read, like in my car while driving, I have an audio book in. I can get through 5 books a week instead of 3 and since I have a list of books I want to read that is as think as a Holy Bible, I need to do what I go to do.

How is it Cliffs Notes? It is unabridged so it's the whole damn book! Also, I like the Harry Potter books on CD because the reader did all the voices and emotions and that rocked! I was able to read and listen so I got through each book in 2 days. What a time saver.


8/17/2007 11:33:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are things one get from listening a book that you would have never had from reading it. I had an experience recently listening to David McCullough read his book 1776. McCullough, near the end of the book, narrated an event, in one of the darkest days of American history, when George Washington, on his horse before Connecticut soldiers whose enlistment was ending, exhorted and pleaded with them to remain in his Army. After several tries, as they stared at him stony-eyed, he made one last appeal, and they stepped forward. Stirring speech, stirring moment, and driving down I-95, I found myself with tears in my eyes.

8/20/2007 04:21:00 AM