As the Stacked book review blog has informed me, we’re in the midst of Audiobook Week. Personally, I am a traditionalist when I read full-length works. Although I [clearly] have become interested in reading blogs, articles, and forums online, I still prefer the paper-and-ink experience for novels, textbooks, etc.
I try to keep an open mind, though. The first audiobook I “read” was The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring, starring the delightful voice of Rob Inglis. Shortly thereafter, I received a gift of Good Omens on CD from a friend. I’ve been “working” on this one for months. I really enjoy the storyline and the narrator’s approach, too.
However, I still can’t seem to find harmony with the format itself. I only listen to audiobooks in the car, on long trips. [After all, if I have free time at home, I’d rather read a book in my hands.] In the car, I tend to fumble with the multiple CDs, get mentally distracted, and often forget to play the audiobook at all on smaller trips.
I do, of course, believe that it is important for public libraries to stock audiobooks, as much as their budget will allow. I know many people who prefer this format for many reasons: multitasking (something I am clearly unable to do – see above), listening simultaneously with a friend, and reading impairments such as dyslexia. Additionally, my public library is fortunate enough to have a small collection of Playaways, pre-loaded MP3 devices with the most popular titles, in addition to the lengthy shelves of audiobooks on CD and cassette.
Thanks to Google Reader, I found an article on Stacked from 2009 that gave me a better understanding of how the strength of an audiobook operates on a different set of criteria than does a paper book. According to Stacked:
Although listeners can have a preference for one of these, they can all be done well or all be done poorly. But what makes a good audio book and what makes a bad one? If you’re listening to one and aren’t sure, consider these:
- Are the words pronounced correctly? Is the narrator using an authentic accent? One of the presenters mentioned a book set in Wisconsin where the narrator had a mid-Atlantic accent and it really killed the book for her as a Wisconsinite. The Dairy Queen, on the other hand, has an authentic Wisconsin accent.
- Is the book complete with a clear, crisp sound? Is the volume consistent?
- Do you hear juicy mouth sounds? Is the narrator’s voice hoarse?
- Has the producer done a good job if material was dubbed not making it obvious? Is the text being repeated or omitted or cut too short? Are chapter breaks awkward or poorly timed?
- Are names of the title, author, and narrator correct? One of the presenters said that there was one book where the reader mispronounced the name Nguyen and a student with that name was turned off entirely (for those of you unsure, that’s “win,” and the reader said “nah-guy-en”)
- Does the reader mostly match the age and experience — at least in sound — to the main characters?
- The readers connect to the text and are generally excited by the reading and discovery in the beauty of the story and the language.
- Is music used effectively? Walden — the one by Thoreau — apparently has fantastic music interludes and was lauded for that reason.
Once I finish listening to Good Omens, I’ll be looking out for some recommended audiobooks at Stacked and Devourer of Books, two blogs that are providing a marathon of audiobook reviews and 101-information this week. Be on the lookout for your next listen!