I recently had to decide whether I should get a new book on audio or in print form. It was a tough decision for me, and one I realized I hadn’t necessarily discussed on this blog. I’ve discussed how I sometimes enjoy audio books and e-books in addition to regular print books, but I feel I haven’t yet addressed what makes me go for an audio or print version of a book, beyond simple convenience, which is probably the main factor in my decision, but not the only one. And naturally, of course, because I’m just such a genius in general, you may well want to heed my advice when considering whether or not to pick up an audio book.
1. The Reader: Who reads the book? That’s one of the main things that draws me towards a certain audio book. Some people just have voices so beautiful and rich that I follow them around like voice artist groupies. Jim Dale, the narrator of the Harry Potter audio books, is one such voice many people might be familiar with. Sometimes, listening to a series with the same narrator for each book can make that voice actor sound like home, a reason I love James Marsters (Yeah, Spike from Buffy, for real,) as the narrator of the Dresden Files. Another voice I love is Neil Gaiman, as he often narrates is own books.
That brings me to a tricky subject: authors narrating their own books. Sometimes it works out great, like with Gaiman, who has a voice that sounds like what cats feel when you pet them just right and they have to purr. IT’s that ultimate listening experience, the creator of this world giving you your own personal story time. On the other hand, and I won’t name names here, sometime writers just aren’t meant to be voice artists, and their performance goes either just so-so or terrible. This can happen when a famous writer or otherwise famous person writes a book and the gimmick of having them read the book is just too good to pass up from the marketing standpoint, even after the whole thing’s been recorded and they sound like a robot that had to stay up all night recording. Still, though, it’s a gimmick I usually fall for, because I just love it too much when it gets done right.
2.The Print Book’s Make-up: Okay, this one comes down mostly to practicality. Check out the print version of the book before you decide. How thick or heavy is it? Could you carry it around with you all day if you wanted? Sure, I’ve lugged some big books around with me, but sometimes that just isn’t worth it, like when I have to travel or I just really don’t wanna.
I got a copy of Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please ages ago, but only recently started “reading” it when I got the audio book, because the book was published on weirdly heavy, fancy glossed paper that made it too heavy for me to comfortably lug around, even though it fit in my purse.
Sure, you could also use this argument for getting the book on your e-reader, but I download most of my audio books straight onto my phone anyway, so that’s still one less thing I need to have with me.
3. Checking the Library: Books on CD can be insanely expensive if you want to try and by them yourself. Sure, Audible solves that by simply making you pay a monthly prescription to get whatever audio books you want, but there’s an even better way. Libraries.
Sure, you can go to the library and check out a book on CD for a car ride or your ancient walkman, if you like, but libraries are actually pretty forward thinking with technology these days. If you have a library card, then chances are you can borrow audio books, for the same number of days your library lets you borrow a regular book, from a website, straight onto your phone, and you can renew them and everything. I get most of my audio books this way, using the website OverDrive, which provides the service to a bunch of libraries, and I don’t even need to leave my house or talk to people, always a huge plus for me. I’d say my inner cheap introvert loves this site, but who am I kidding, that’s my outer persona too.
I ended up getting a print version of the new book I was mulling over, because it was right there in the bookstore looking at me so forlornly, but I went through all these thoughts in my head before I bought it. You might find it handy to do this next time you go on a book hunt too.