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Audio vs. visual?

The New York Times recently ran an article on book club members who look down on audio books—or rather, people who listen to audio books rather than reading print versions. Apparently listening to someone read is not equal to reading in their eyes. They actually called it "cheating."

This struck me as out-and-out snobbery. So long as the audio book sticks with the author's words, what does it matter what format the book is published in? In a previous life I was a teacher, and one thing I learned is that not everyone learns and retains knowledge in the same way. Some people learn better from listening, some from seeing. Why judge one as better than the other? One size does not fit all. It's not like they're reading the Reader's Digest Compressed version for crying out loud. One reason people don't read as much any more is they don't have time. If they make time by listening to books in the car on their way to work, isn't that better than not reading?



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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 5th, 2007 04:44 pm (UTC)
Wow. Your comment really made me stop and think.

I don't listen to audiobooks at all - my subway commute doesn't lend itself to audiobooks, and I don't have blocks of listening time in my life right now. I've always had an inherent superiority toward *reading* words, rather than listening to them (although I've always made a mental exception for people who can't read - dyslexics, the blind, etc.)

When I read your post, though, something clicked in my mind. You're right - if it's not abridged, it's still the book...

And yet, I know that for *me*, the experience of reading, of creating the voices in my own mind, etc., is something that I'm not willing to give over to audiobooks.

Hmmm... churn, churn, churn go the thoughts :-)
Aug. 5th, 2007 04:56 pm (UTC)
Well, sure. Most of the time, I prefer to read the printed book, too. But I don't sneer at people who prefer the auditory experience.

One book I made a point to listen to rather than read was Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke. I heard her read from it at a World Fantasy Convention and thought it sounded fun and interesting. But when I asked other attendees about it, they all said they had tried to read it and given up because it was too "dense." So I listened to it—all 30+ CDs!— in the car on my way to work. The reader was a British actor who did an excellent job of differentiating the huge cast of characters. Except for the fact that he didn't say anything to warn you he was at the end of the footnote (yes, it has footnotes!) or the end of the CD, it was a great way to experience that story.

Just a warning—they may show up as my white elephant at the WGFH holiday party.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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