Today I want to talk about something that is a great debate between writers and readers alike.
I’ve met and spoken with people who fall on all three sides of the fence (it’s a weird fence), those who love them, those who hate them and see them as lazy, and those who just shrug, not really passionate either way.
So you know where I stand right off the mark, I am a huge fan of audiobooks. I think this is probably because of my childhood, but even now as an adult I still love them.
My early experiences of my town library growing up were me perusing the cassette tape (for you younglings out there a cassette is like a big plastic MP3) stories. My parents also bought a subscription to a fairy-tale type magazine that sent me audio stories every month of ye olde fairy tales and fostered a love that developed into a love for classic literature. As a child, I loved it when my mum would read to me, but she was only human and could not do this 24/7, having cassette tapes meant I could have someone read to me whenever I wanted.
It was because of these audio stories that I started reading properly in the first place.
Being a kid with dyslexia reading was difficult and frustrating, but listening to audio stories let me enjoy the stories and fostered within me a love of stories which very quickly became a love of reading despite my initial difficulties. It was because of the love of stories that I persevered and improved my reading and that love would not have happened if not for audio stories.
As an adult, I have a subscription to Audible (Awesome service, go buy it now, go on go!) which is a bloody marvellous way to consume literature in my view. Anyone who’s ever bought an audiobook recently knows how expensive these things are, Audible gives you one credit a month (with the option to buy more credits) which you then exchange for ANY book in their library. They do this for just seven pounds a month. That’s bloody amazing, out of the books I have purchased the cheapest was thirty pounds. So it’s a huge saving.
I read prolifically, but not as much as I want to because I have to work, I have to commute, I have to go to the gym, and I have to run errands. All this time I could be spending reading, well thanks to audiobooks now I can. I download them onto my iPod and boom, suddenly I can read on my commute (listen, obviously I don’t read while driving, I’d be dead by now), I can read at the gym rather than listen to awful gym music and grunting, I can plug my headphones in and listen to books while doing the shopping.
Audiobooks improve my life so much it’s unreal.
I’ve also found that sometimes no matter how much I want to read a book I just can’t, perhaps the language just twists my brain in knots (Canterbury Tales, I’m looking at you) or maybe the writer is long-winded in places (Lord of the Rings, I’m looking at you) but for some reason if I listen to these stories in audio form these problems don’t bother me as much. It is an easier way to consume literature. It opens up worlds to people who might otherwise not have had access to them. Audiobooks rock!
Now, while I have gushed above I am aware that there are some downsides to audiobooks. Sometimes it’s the narrator, they might not fit the story in the way you have envisioned and this can be off-putting at times.
As I said above I have talked to people regarding both sides of the argument and I have to say I find the argument against audiobooks to be poor. It mostly boils down to personal preference and the fact that those against this medium think it’s a lazy way to enjoy a story.
I’m not saying you have to love audiobooks as much as I do, but at least hate on it for a good reason. It makes you lazy is not a good reason.