Audio Books Vs. Paper Books

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by irishgrizzly, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. irishgrizzly macrumors 65816


    May 15, 2006
    I was wondering is there any reasons that it is "better" to use a paper copy of a book than to listen to it.

    I enjoy listening to audio books on the move, but am I missing something by doing this? Do you think you have better recall of something having sat down a read it? (I'm not talking about studying – just reading for pleasure).

    Any thoughts welcome!

  2. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030


    Apr 19, 2008
    Pandora, Home Tree

    They both have their place. I love to read, so paper there. But when I drive, I listen to audio books.
  3. Ntombi macrumors 68040


    Jul 1, 2008
    Bostonian exiled in SoCal
    I'm a voracious reader, but I've never been a fan of audio books. I like to "hear" the voices myself, rather than listen to someone else's interpretation of the voices, the pacing, etc. No matter how long the drive, I'd still rather listen to music or podcasts, and then read to myself when I can.

    The only exception is James Herriot's short stories, read by him, which I do enjoy listening to, and a few classic short stories and poems. Lit2Go has a bunch of options on iTunes for free, some of which you might be interested in. I only like to listen to a few, but the selection of public domain literature is pretty good.

    I also don't like e-books, BTW. I like paper. I'm a traditionalist.
  4. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    Same for me. I just find paper easier to read off of.

    As for audio books, I don't really care for them. Like Ntombi, I like to picture/hear the characters how I want them to be, not how someone else thinks they are.

    I also find it easier to go back and look at critical details in a traditional book.
  5. TheAnswer macrumors 68030


    Jan 25, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    For me it depends on the subject. In general, I'll listen to autobiographical, humor or non-fiction works in audiobook form, but only if they are read by the author. Then, for fiction I'll pick up the real thing.

    Of course it also depends on other things. I tend to pick up audiobooks mainly when I am traveling or driving long distances. I don't think I would ever choose to just sit down and listen to an audiobook at home.
  6. KingYaba macrumors 68040


    Aug 7, 2005
    Up the irons
  7. avigalante macrumors 6502


    Feb 18, 2007
    New York City
    Paper; I love to annotate everything I read (it's a habit).
  8. it5five macrumors 65816


    May 31, 2006
    New York
    I listen to audiobooks at work, and I only listen to certain types (non-fiction read by the author or sci-fi). If I didn't have the job I do, I would never listen to audiobooks. I read paper books in every other situation.
  9. zachplaysguitar macrumors 6502


    Aug 15, 2008
    Richmond, VA
    I think audiobooks take out some of the enjoyment of reading. Envisioning the characters with your own interpretation is what makes it enjoyable... otherwise it's like watching a movie with no video.
  10. comictimes macrumors 6502a


    Jun 20, 2004
    Berkeley, California
    Honestly I tend to lose focus every now and then, so with paper books I can just skip back to where I stopped paying attention or to something I didn't understand. It's much harder to do that with audio books.

    However, I do love to hear other people's interpretations of the characters, so I think audio books are great for books that I've already read, just not for the first time of experiencing that book.
  11. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    I've known people to call recorded books 'cheat reading' but I think they have their place - it depends on how well you can listen and remember what you hear as opposed to reading. They do have their place.

    For me, hearing people talk puts me right to sleep, so they're out of the picture. If I've going read a book, I like being able to actually sit down and open it up and read it page by page. There's something nice about having it my hands.

    I read more in the colder weather too.
  12. Randman macrumors 65816


    Jul 28, 2008
    Jacksonville, Fla
    I enjoy both. Nothing beats a good book and turning pages. But with my job, I read so dang much that an audiobook is a nice way to wind down at times. Also, good for commutes and long drives where you can get into an audiobook.

    And some are good in both formats. Michael Palin's travel books and audiobooks (and TV shows) all complement one another rather than competing.

    Some of the old Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan ones were also good in both formats.
  13. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Agree completely. I, too, prefer to imagie the characters, places, contexts, crafted by an author for myself. Travelling means my iPod playing music, never text. Besides, I find that I approach both forms very differently. Onlin is superb for news, a rapid, critical skimming sort of reading, whereas for deeper immersion, a traditonal book is far preferable.

    Again, agree completely, and with melrose. Sometimes, just holding a book gives great satisfaction; somehow, curling up on a sofa with a laptop is not quite the same.
  14. pimentoLoaf macrumors 68000


    Dec 30, 2001
    The SimCity Deli
    I have never bought an audiobook yet, as paper-based books are electricity free.
  15. Shaun.P macrumors 68000


    Jul 14, 2003
    Omicron Persei 8
    I must say I prefer paper books.

    When I find something interesting, or something I don't understand, I like to re-read the sentence / paragraph to obtain a better understanding.

    Also, I don't know if it's just me, but sometimes I feel those audiobooks go too fast and I find it hard to process the information, or understand what the speaker is trying to say.

    In a nutshell, audiobooks don't go at my own pace.

    I've only bought 2 audiobooks: 'The God Delusion' and 'The Power of Now'.
    I'm not much of a reader...
  16. andiwm2003 macrumors 601


    Mar 29, 2004
    Boston, MA
    i love audiobook for my commute. i have an audible subscription and own by now over 100 audiobooks.

    but as others said that fact that the reading pace and voice is predetermined makes listening to great literature a bad expereince for me.

    what i like though is listening to scifi stories. the reason is that (aside from liking scifi) authors of science fiction spend a lot of time describing things in detail (because the don't exist). that is quite suitable to listening. other types of literature use only a few words to trigger an emotion and interpretation in your brain. that requires your own reading pace and more attention and therefore doesn't go with listening and driving.
  17. TheAnswer macrumors 68030


    Jan 25, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    Electricity free as in more environmentally sound? That's a dubious claim.

    Assuming you buy the audiobook online, you'd have the electricity used to power the recording equipment, the electricity to power the server and the electricity to power your computer/mp3 player.

    A paper book, you'd have to factor in the light by which you read it, the cost of stocking it in a well-lit bookstore, the environmental costs of the printing press (emissions, paper waste), the cost of running the designer's computer while laying out the book, the emissions of the paper plant (not to mention the other waste generated), the loss of the trees used to make the paper, and of course the emissions of the vehicles used to get trees to paper mill, paper to printer, book to bookstore, book to reading location.

    Nothing against paper books, I just doubt they are more environmentally friendly than audiobooks.
  18. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

    Mar 15, 2007
    Denton, TX
    I spend most of my time behind the wheel and when I'm not driving I'm typically sleeping. I find the audiobooks much easier to read when I'm driving and I try not to read while I'm sleeping. :D

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