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Thoughts on Audiobooks

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Since I got my iphone I’ve been listening to more and more audio books. And, while I tried using our library’s free downloadable audio book service, I have to admit that I prefer Audible. It’s easier to use with the iPhone, I don’t have to wait for the book I want, and at $7.49/month it’s reasonably priced.

There are things I love about audio books.

  • I can listen and knit.
  • I can listen in the car.
  • I can listen and spin.
  • I can listen on the deck or while cooking or while doing housework.
  • It’s like being read to and I love having someone read to me.

And there are things I don’t love so much about audio books.

  • I can’t listen in bed. (I fall asleep.)
  • I can’t flip back through the pages to remind myself of a detail I have forgotten.
  • I can’t read the end to see if it’s going to turn out the way I want.
  • I miss out on things like maps and family trees.

While the cons may seem numerous, the pros definitely outweigh them. Truly, being able to “read” and knit at the same time is huge in my world and I have finished more books lately (including The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) than I have in years. As a librarian that’s a pretty big deal.

How about you? Have you tried audio books? And how do you feel about them?

This Post Has 47 Comments

  1. They’re great for long drives and such. I find that I tune out when simultaneously knitting or doing some other task, though – my mind wanders. I really prefer a book in my hands for the reading experience.

  2. I listen to audiobooks a lot (and I also use Audible, and have for years). I try to choose books that don’t depend on maps and things, and I’m choosy about who the reader is. There are some books that seem to need to be read on the page, but most of the time, listening is a great experience. I still love to read regular books – after all, I work in a bookstore!

  3. I mostly listen to them and enjoy them on long car trips. I was hesitant to try them for car trips at first as I was afraid they would lull me to sleep. However, I have found that I stay more alert listening to books while driving that when I listen to music.

  4. I just joined Audible too…but have yet to listen to the 2 I’ve downloaded. I just can’t give up the pleasure of holding a book in my hands. But I knit whenever I have the free time…and the new books I find hard to resist buying–Anita Shreve, Luanne Rice are collecting dust on my coffee table!

  5. Haven’t jumped in so much yet. I’m not sure I have the proper technology for doing this justice. Ironically, when I was teaching 6th grade, I always had a book on tape in a center for the kiddos to rotate through. Students had to read the text while listening, but I only needed 4 copies of a book vs. 25. One of these days I will take the plunge!

  6. I adore them- I also use audible ( and work at a library) net library and Mac’s are not friends- I do listen to the books on disc as well in the car and laptop but on the iPhone audible- soo easy.
    My car will not work without a book in it!

  7. I just started listening to audiobooks,but I still much prefer the real thing. I don’t feel the need to multitask while reading and I like being able to feel the book in my hands, to get lost in the story, to physically turn the page. So much is lost with audiobooks and I don’t think I get as much out of the story if I try to do multiple things at once. I don’t mind devoting time to only reading as opposed to “reading and knitting”. They’re both hobbies and they both deserve my undivided attention.

  8. I like listening to them on long drives or when I’m weeding or spinning (either fiber or on the indoor bike). The biggest con for me is one that you share–not being able to flip back for details. Two years ago I had to drive back and forth to campus eight times a week, and I listened to more books on tape than I would have thought possible. I often will listen to a book that I would not necessarily read in the more traditional way. Not sure why, but it may be because I’m multitasking, so I feel I’m not “wasting” reading time on something too bubblegummy!

  9. Do you have to use earbuds? Re listening and driving – it seems I can’t do both at the same time!

  10. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been meaning to load a couple books on my iPod and try that with knitting. A lifetime devoted to reading here, and I’m not sure, but it seems worth a try. I suspect it will be certain types of books. So many books, so little time….

  11. I adore audio books. I listen while I walk, knit, do house work, ride the bus and knit….

    I listen to my old favorites (Harry Potter or Diana Gabaldon) when I go to sleep. I’ve listened to them so many times I know exactly what happens next so if I miss a few tracks….no biggie!

  12. I do love listening to audiobooks, too! I have gotten addicted to knitting podcasts, but find that the ones I really like, don’t update them often enough!

  13. I have tried the downloads from the library, but then life got busy & my download expired before I could finish … grrrr! I might have to give audible a try, but I don’t know that I’m ready to pull the trigger on another monthly bill 🙁 I’ll have to see what works with my smartphone! Knitting podcasts … seriously? I have to find those!!

  14. I haven’t tried them. I’d have to buy a gadget to read them on, and I’m a fuddy-duddy when it comes to gadgets. I like having the book in my hand; I like being able to go back and check a detail. In my experience (admittedly limited, since I’ve already said I haven’t tried audio books) I don’t retain audio as well as I do the printed word.

    I suspect, however, that this is another of those cases where resistance will ultimately prove futile.

  15. I am an Audible user as well, but have lately been having difficulty downloading directly to iTunes in format 4. Audible is working we me, but when I get to a big city this summer, my MacBook needs a tune-up at the Genius bar. I really think the trouble is with my Mac and not Audible.

    I just finished The Help and if you’ve not “read it” – DO! The setting (Mississippi, 1963) is beautifully told with dialect from the area. I am certain that with this particular book, the audio version enhanced the reading experience. I’ve just begun The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo while folding laundry yesterday. I’m already engaged.

  16. I was a little surprised to find how much I like listening to audiobooks. I thought I’d rather have the physical book in my hand, and have never ever had an urge to get an eReader for that reason. Party I like it because I didn’t want to take the time to sit down and read and do nothing else, so I really wasn’t reading much. Since now I can read and knit at the same time, I’m actually able to read books again. But I think the other reason is that even though I sometimes miss part of what’s being read to me when I get distracted, I actually retain more of it than I do when I physically read a book – I’m a very fast reader, but sort of read in “blocks” rather than word for word, and I don’t really retain it very well.

  17. I’ve not tried the downloads, but listen extensively to book on CD from the library and LOVE being read to. I have a 1 hour commute to work and the books are a godsend. I really enjoy the storytelling aspect of the audio so much – especially when the reader is good and appropriate to the story. I think it was Sissy Spacek reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Rob Inglis reading the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that sold me on “listening” to books. An added dimension to the audio is when there are “song” (as in LotR’s) that normally I would skip over – but really enjoyed in the audio. Now if I just had the technology and could learn how to use it to download….

  18. I’m all about the podcasts lately, which is a new world to me.

    I do listen like Audio books. I used to listen to them as an undergrad English Major for when I just couldn’t handle all of the reading!

  19. I like audiobooks but am very picky about the reader. I’ve had difficulties using our library system as well and prefer Audible.

  20. I am an audiobook addict. I listen at night after I put kids to bed, while I am folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen, or doing other household chores. I still love to read actual paper books, but my free time is so limited that I can only fit one in here and there. And while audio is certainly a different experience than reading to myself, it can be just as wonderful–only in a different way. The audio versions of the Harry Potter books are an absolute joy!
    I use audible, but only pay a small amount per year for the most basic membership; and then I purchase books when they have their great sales, so the cost is minimal. I also use the library downloads, and transfer them to my mp3player immediately–they don’t automatically expire off the mp3 player when the 2 weeks is up, so I just keep them on there until I am ready to listen to them.
    I also listen to various podcasts and radio programs. With your iphone you can use the “Stitcher” app to stream your favorite radio programs on demand, so I use this app when driving to work to catch up on the NPR shows that I have missed.
    I have even gotten my kids (ages 6 and 9) hooked. They both have inexpensive mp3 players and listen at night or in the car. My 6 year old loves to follow along in the book while listening to the audio…”Mrs Piggle Wiggle” and “Junie B Jones” are current faves here!

  21. Like I’ve said before – if it weren’t for audio books I would get no reading done.

    I also downloaded the kindle to my iphone and have been using that as well.

    I do miss having a book in my hands, but the multi- tasking concept far outweighs it!

  22. LOVE LOVE LOVE AUDIO BOOKS.Funny that you mention The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I’m on disk 7 right now!

  23. LOVE audiobooks! I listen to them while I sew – and while I drive. R and I even have book series that we only listen to together when we go on vacation (Stephanie Plum).

    Overdrive has an iPhone app now – that might help make it a little easier to add to your audiobook lineup.

  24. I think audio books are pretty good for listening to while driving, and doing jobs around the house. I hate not being able to go at the speed I’d like, but they do fill time nicely.

  25. I have to admit that I haven’t listened to many audio books. I suppose I ought to try them but I’m just partial to books. I do like listening to podcasts though. Especialy when I’m driving long distances or in traffic. I find that they relax me.

  26. I love audiobooks. I listen and knit, listen and garden, listen and drive, listen and fold laundry. The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo is on my ipod right now.

    I’ve been using Audible for years. (Even before the ipod. My first MP3 player was a Rio that my husband gave me about 10 years ago.)

  27. My DH & I always have an audio book in the car for long drives. He just doesn’t have time to sit and read so this is the ideal solution for him. I love them because I can do anything while listening, knit, cook,weave,clean,spin not have to choose reading over crafting. I do agree with those who say the reader is important, I prefer they be un-abridged and read by the author because they give their own words a special flavor.
    Most of my ‘book’ buying these days in on CD!

  28. The night time reading wouldn’t bother me because when I
    read at night, I can only get through 10 pages at the most
    before falling asleep and then i can’t remember what I read!!
    Did you like the The Girl with The Dragon Tatoo? I just heard
    about the book yesterday and was told it is excellent! I need
    to check out Audible for my iPhone. Thanks for the tips and
    reminding me about it. I would get a whole lot more reading done and I also love the idea of someone reading to me!! 🙂

  29. I haven’t listened to an Audio book yet. I did get one from a blogger (A Walk In The Woods – also have the book) but haven’t listened/or read it yet. I let my father borrow it as I thought he would enjoy it. I love to hold a book and every night from 8 – 8:30 is reading time. I don’t know if I would enjoy knitting to one. I have trouble even listenening to podcasts occasionally while knitting. I will have to make it a point this summer to try out the one I have.

  30. i’ve borrowed a few books from my local library and since i don’t really have a CD player, i’m limited to listening to them in my car. but that’s really the best place for me. my mind wanders otherwise and i keep having to go back and listen to entire passages over and over again. but i do enjoy it when i’m in my car.

    i’m very tempted to join audible.

  31. I love audio books. I get a lot of them from the library and have even started collecting a precious few (Harry Potter series – I allow myself to get one per year as a Christmas present; also I just got the Chronicles of Narnia and Jane Eyre).

    My library also has downloadable audio books. It used to be that you had to download a special “reader/player” for them, but the last time I looked, I noticed that you can now download many books in ipod format. I really need to investigate that more.

    I listen to them when I am knitting during the non-baseball season.

  32. I’ve been meaning to try audio books. Since I have absolutely no time to read any more – this sounds like a great application for our phone. I’ll have to check it out
    And now, please.. how about you come up with the list of “must reads / must listens” for the summer?

  33. When I started to go blind, my library ordered heaps of audio books by my favorite authors (I volunteered there). I don’t enjoy them! I know I should, and we read aloud a fair bit in my family, but I simply cannot listen to a book and lose myself in the plot and characters and era. If I read it, I’m there inside the book. Else, not. I read usually at least one book a day (I’m very fast), I re-read hundreds of books on a yearly basis, and I knit while reading (book holder). I have listened to many, many audio books and even the best readers cannot draw me into the story. I wish…!

    In the long run it has turned out to be a good thing — the main thing that has preserved what is left of my sight is the exercise of reading.

  34. I am an audiobook addict. I started listening 10 years ago when I moved to the USA and I had to improve my vocabulary. Got hooked ever since. I started out with tapes, then CD’s then MP3 player. I have an iphone but I don’t use it for the books. Instead I have a Creative Zen, it plays mp3 files from the library with no problem. Always keep books on hold, I always have at least one available. I love the Zen because it has bookmarks and I can go back. If I need to recharge the player midbook the book mark is a blessing. I have to confess I have never bought an audiobook in 10 years and not one day has gone by without a book.

  35. I have to admit I much prefer to read a book. Something about feeling the pages flip in my fingers delights me to no end. But I think it’s probably more nostalgia then anything. Most of the happy thoughts I have from being a kid were when I was reading. I always had a book with me wherever I went and can relate things and places with which story I as reading at the time. I think that some things (like knitting) are better left alone and left simple then caught up in technology! However, I am jealous of those that do listen and read as I always have to pick between the two!

  36. How did you get a $7.50 plan? When I went to sign up it was $15 a month, which is too much for me. I did get a free trial, and I loved it. If it were cheaper I would definitely use Audible more.

  37. I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love the idea that I can do two things at once, but I often find that I have missed out on one of the things…frighteningly, my husband and I once did not remember the ride at all on a very long drive. That scared us enough to not use them in the car. We got so engrossed that we zoned out the whole drive and it made us wonder if we were too distracted. And when I knit, I sometimes find I have tuned out the audio book.

  38. I have to admit – my mind wanders way too much – if I’m not holding the book in my hands…

    Tried some audio books – but, just could not get into it…

  39. I like the idea of audiobooks, but find I get frustrated because they take longer to listen to than I can read them. And if I listen to them in the car, I don’t pay attention to my driving!

  40. I have the same problem with audio books that I have with a lot of meditation CDs…the reader’s voice drives me insane! Oh, and I have a habit of putting them on the CD player in the living room, then deciding to go downstairs to do laundry or some such thing and miss all kinds of important parts of the book. I’ll take paper, thanks! 🙂

  41. I love audio books. Particularly the classics. The language is just so lovely…

    And the ability to do it while knitting or spinning is priceless. AND it makes folding laundry more bearable too!

  42. LOVE Audible!! I have “read” so many more books, in the 5 years that I’ve been a member. I can listen to one book, while reading another. I can listen while I’m in the garden and while I’m in the shower. I’m so hooked that I have a Platinum account!

  43. It really depends on the reader. Some fabulous audio books I listened to The Book Thief, A Thousand Spelndid Suns & The Help. The actors really helped bring the story to life for me. I listen during my commute. I still like to read a real book as well so often have both going!

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