On audiobooks

the-dispatcher.jpgI have always suspected that I would not like audiobooks.  There are a number of reasons for this; chief among them are the facts that I read way, way faster than anyone could ever read out loud and don’t have the patience to wait for someone else to take four or five times as long to read something as I would, and the fact that I really enjoy the physicality of reading.  I have drawn this distinction between my wife and I a few times in this space, I think; we both enjoy reading, but I like books.  I have thousands of them.  I think she’d be content with an e-reader for everything for the rest of her life if it weren’t for the fact that I buy so many books that there’s always something for her to read.  I generally only read ebooks if I’m traveling (which doesn’t happen very often) or if I have no other choice, such as when my indie author friends have released new books.  Even then I prefer to get their stuff in print if I have the chance.

All that said, I’ve never actually tried to listen to an audiobook.  Enter John Scalzi.  Scalzi is one of my favorite authors, probably in the top five, and is also a guy who has served as a major influence on my own style.  I get everything he releases immediately, no questions asked, and I’ve never not liked one of his books.

John just released a new novella solely as an audiobook.  There’s a print version coming eventually, but for now, if you want to read The Dispatcher, you have to get the audiobook. At first that sounded kinda shitty, at least for me– John can do what he wants with his work, obviously, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like it– and then I found out that Audible.com was letting everyone download the book for free.  So I did.  And I started listening to it in the car this morning, on my way to work.  A one-way trip to work is 20, maybe 25 minutes, so I figure that’s a decent chunk of time to digest a bit of an audiobook.  That said, the entire thing is about two hours and ten minutes long– even round-trip, that’s several days of driving.  I’m in, like, Chapter Three.

Well, after day one, I still don’t like audiobooks.  In fact, weirdly, I’m finding that I don’t like the book, which I’ve never said about a Scalzi work before, and I’m trying to suss out whether it’s the book itself that’s bad or whether I dislike the format itself so much that it’s bleeding over into the actual story.  Zachary Quinto seems fine as a narrator, I suppose, but what’s getting me is that he’s clearly reading a book as opposed to telling a story, and it all feels really unnatural.  I just discovered that there’s an option to double the speed he’s reading at, and I’m going to enable that tomorrow and see if it helps things.  Because right now, this experiment is a failure.

Do you listen to a lot of audiobooks?  Do you read a lot of John Scalzi?  If so, wanna download this thing right quick and tell me if I’m nuts or not?

Published by

Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

5 thoughts on “On audiobooks

  1. I am a very visual person and I find if the words come in through my eyes, my attention stays with them. If the words come in through my ears, my attention wanders and I lose parts of them. I know this from listening to NPR on my way around town.


    1. I’m having less trouble following along than I thought I would, especially since I’m mostly listening in the car and, as I’ve talked about before, I’m primed to absorb sound while I’m driving. I would have thought initially that I’d have difficulty.


  2. I’m a really slow reader so audio books actually go at my speed or faster, so I actually have liked the few I’ve tried. That said, I’ve stuck with ones where I like the narrator, and haven’t just dived into full-on audiobook listening… Maybe I should to get more “reading” done…


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