Are Audiobooks Really “Books?”

An old microphone

An old microphone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many authors these days – both indie and otherwise – are venturing into new territory, and releasing their novels, or parts thereof, as audiobooks, or podcasts. Audiobooks have been with us for some time in various forms, from radio episodes to “books on tape” and now in electronic file format. But I wonder, can we still call it a “book?”

I remember once seeing a picture of one of my favorite radio personalities after hearing their voice for a long time on their broadcasts. I was shocked at how they looked. Not that they were hideous, but they didn’t look anything like I had expected. A similar feeling struck me when I first saw a picture of one of my favorite authors. It changed the way I thought about the story. I hadn’t expected that.

I recently heard a podcast of a recently independently released book. The tone of the reader was flat and uninterested, the background music rather bland. I was instantly turned off. Another author’s reading sounded like a bad imitation of what a thriller should actually sound like. Again, quite a turn off.

In fact, I have yet to hear an audio version of a book that I’ve liked better than the book. Or even liked a little bit. I still hear that this is a marvelous way to promote your story, but it seems most of the people saying it are writers trying to get you to listen to one. 

I would like to know what others think about audiobooks. Do you listen to them? Do they make you more interested in a book? Less interested? Should we even call them audio”books” or something else completely?

When I read something, the words have a very definite sound in my head. Does listening to someone else read it detract from the story?

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4 thoughts on “Are Audiobooks Really “Books?”

  1. I’m not much interested in audiobooks and I prefer to read at my own pace with the words well-written on the pages. It’s not that bad though to listen to a story and drifting into it by the sound of the voice…

  2. I liked Tom Bodett’s audiobooks and Garrison Keillior’s Lake Wobegon series. I don’t usually listen to books, I like to see and hear the books in my own mind. Which is why I have hated almost every movie that was based on a book I had read. I think the great thing about books is that we do get to create our own mind movie and nothing is more personal than that.

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