Since June is Audiobook Month, there have been many posts about new and appealing audiobooks. For us, books on CD have become a big part of our lives, although only in the car; neither one of us can get used to walking around with earbuds connected to a dangling device.
I mostly listen to nonfiction on audio. This is in spite of the fact that my favorite part of nonfiction books is without doubt the visual material: the photographs, maps, and charts, and even the footnotes and indexes that accompany the text. Fortunately Google allows me to supplement my listening.
Jim and I also enjoy listening to nonfiction audiobooks together. We often stop the narrative to
argue talk about particular points raised in the book. If I am in the car by myself, I have been known to call Jim up from the car (using bluetooth) to argue about share what I have heard.
But there are some disadvantages to books on audio, even besides the lack of visual material that is so often an important part of a nonfiction book.
One is that tracks are usually too long for me. If a point is complex, I may want to hear it repeated. But to re-start the track may mean going back ten minutes or so, and therefore having to listen to a lot of the book over that I don’t want/need to hear again. I imagine I would need to do this from time to time with fiction as well, since there are occasions in the car when one needs to devote one’s full attention to the traffic rather than plot points.
A second negative for me is the issue of pronunciation. Far too many narrators do not do research on the proper pronunciation of names of people, countries, battleground etc. and it is grating. This mispronunciation is in addition to the plethora of ordinary words that get mispronounced, the most common being “air” for “err”; “of-ten” for “often” (the “t” should be silent); “for-tay” for “forte” (the musical term is correctly pronounced “for-tay” but the word meaning “strong point” is correctly said as “fort”); and “sub-STAN-tive” instead of the correct “SUBs-tantive”). And salmon as a fish has no “l” but Salman as a name is not a fish; the “l” stays in the pronunciation.
Overall I’d say the costs do not outweigh the benefits. But still. Am I the only one bothered by such things on audiobooks?