Hearing Audiobooks

by Krishna on July 5, 2009

One of the easy ways to “read” a lot of books is to get their audiobook versions and hear them while commuting to work. Since you cannot typically do anything else while driving, the time is well spent. But there are a few things to watch out for in audiobooks.

The quality of an audiobook depends on how good the narrator is. And this has less to do with how good the narrator’s voice is than how well they know and like the material. Sometimes, a narrator has a good voice, but they fail to put emphasis or show enthusiasm at the right moments. The best narrator is usually the author unless they are terrible at speaking. Assuming that the reader is familiar with the material, their voice, accent and other speech patterns play an important part in how you will enjoy them.

Most of the time, you will not hear the audiobook at one shot, it being spread across multiple commutes. This is also a problem with hard-copy books, but you have the luxury of flipping back the pages of a book easily if you forget something. In an audiobook, that is not easily done, so the better audiobooks are the books that have themes and ideas that last longer and anecdotes that are shorter. This also helps if your attention is diverted during driving.

Some people recommend increasing the audiobook speed to listen faster. This works only if the reader was not speaking quickly to begin with, otherwise you get distorted words and meaning. I find even normal speed difficult for fiction audiobooks, because fiction is more complicated than non-fiction with complex plots and multiple characters. Unless the novel or story is presented by multiple voices representing the various characters, it is difficult to make out what is going on.

In non-fiction, books dealing with topics of business management, projects, innovation, etc. have good audiobook versions. Even though you miss some of the tables and charts that comes with the regular book, it does not prevent you from understanding the book. I haven’t heard any books on software topics, but I suppose with the greater use of visuals, they may not be as accessible in audio format.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: