Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Opinion, Rant, Same Thing: Audio Books

Author's Note: Hello there, and welcome to the first post in the blog series, Opinion, Rant, Same Thing! This particular blog series will consist of opinion pieces (rants) on a variety of different literary subjects. This series of posts will be very opinionated, but I'd love to hear your comments, differentiated or not!

Today's topic of conversation: audio books.

For those of you who do not know what audio books are, I'll explain. Audio books are exactly what they sound like. A voice actor (or several voice actors) read(s) the book to you. Audio books come in many different formats: CDs, cassette tapes, and downloadable versions from platforms like iTunes and Amazon. Audio books come in either abridged or unabridged versions. Abridged audio books are the "shortened" version of the book; they cut out certain plot lines and may change certain words. Unabridged audio books, as you may have guessed, are the "not shortened", or full length, version of a book. Most audio books are unabridged because the readers want the whole story. Therefore, most of this blog post will reference unabridged audio books.

As you can probably tell from my extensive background on audio books, I’m a fan. My mother rented them from my local library and I grew up loving them. To me, audio books make literature more exciting. Audio books allow a listener to hear the characters. It's one thing to know that a character is from the South, it's another to actually hear their accent. Audio books are not only convenient, being available in ways literary novels are not (available as a multi-task), they also help clear up pronunciation issues of character or setting names. In my opinion, it just makes reading a book an overall better experience.

However, some people don't share this view. Some people think audio books are demeaning, that listening to them makes one less of a reader, and in some cases, just plain lazy.

This post is written in effort to put this attitude to rest.

First of all, what I think anti-audio readers aren't realizing, is that audio books do not replace the original written material. Audio books are an extension of the novel. If you're listening to the audio book, that doesn't mean you aren't reading the actual book. You could be listening to the audio book while you don't have the book with you, or when you don't have time to sit down and read a book. You might listen to the audio book while you are reading the book. Perhaps you keep the audio book in the car so you can continue the story where you last left off in the book. There are infinite possibilities. Have I listened to an audio book without even looking at the book? Yes, but why does that matter? These are the same words, the same characters, the same plots, and the same stories.

Audio books do not diminish the number of people reading. I'll say it again: just because you listen to an audio book, does not mean you are never going to read again. One does not replace the other. You aren't going to throw away all of your books. No. I still read books that don't have audio books, and I don't need an audio book to be able to read a book. I do, however, like listening to the audio book.

I will say this plainly: just because I listened to an audio book, does not make me less of a reader. Yes, I can hear you all: you're not actually reading, you're listening. The fact of the matter is this: I'm an auditory learner. I process things in a more effective way when they are audibly spoken. Audio books help me digest a story better. So, how can audio books be a discouraged format of literature when this format is encouraging more to read/listen to more books?

Now to address the argument that listening to audio books is "lazy". I’m going to give you a scenario. Let's say you have to read two more chapters of your Language Arts book by morning, and your mother just ordered you to clean the kitchen. It's almost time for bed and there isn't enough time to do the two things separately. With an audio book, you can do both at the same time. Is that being lazy? No. This is called efficiency.

In conclusion, I'd like to underline the argument that audio books are not a literary enemy, but a friend. Audio books encourage reading and help more people enjoy books, and reading on the whole.

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you have a question about audio books? Make sure to leave a comment below!

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