Friday, February 15, 2013

Some Thoughts on Audio Books

It may come as a surprise to those who know my disdain for e-books and e-reading devices that I actually like audio books. It really shouldn’t be surprising, however, given that e-books and audio books are two very different things. Rather than go off on my usual anti-Kindle, anti-Nook rant I will confine this post to the positives of audio books.
First of all, one thing audio books don’t do is rob authors of royalty payments. Since they actually cost more than the hardcover version, authors make more on audio books than any other format. These tend to sell fewer copies as a result, mainly being bought by libraries, but the author gets paid nonetheless.
Audio books are also great for those who, like me, have a long commute to work every day. Rather than spend 3 hours round-trip listening to talk radio idiots or the same old sports news, I can use the time to reduce my ever-growing reading list. And for those working in the ubiquitous cubicle farms of corporate America, an audio book can stave off death by boredom in a way nothing else can.
If you’re in doubt about purchasing a particular book, an audio book checked out from your local library can either confirm that it’s worth a hardcover purchase, that you should wait on the paperback, or that you should pass altogether. But you have to be careful that the book just doesn’t seem bad because the person reading the audio book isn’t that good.
Which brings me to the thing I love most about audio books. I had already read all of the Harry Potter books, Kerouac’s On the Road, and The Great Gatsby before I ever listened to them on audio. But listening to Jim Dale, Matt Dillon, and Tim Robbins (respectively) read these great novels added a whole new dimension to my experience of the books.
So if you’ve never done so, give audio books a try. They can be a very rewarding addition to your reading life.

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