As a commuter, I have reluctantly fallen in love with audio books. There is something that is wonderful about being read out loud to by people who are so good at reading aloud that they get paid to do it. In fact, some of my favorite books I’ve “read” in the last year have been audio books.
Stephen King vigorously encouraged aspiring writers to listen to audio books in On Writing. Pat Conroy in his preface to The Prince of Tides audiobook even said that he thought the reader, Dan John Miller, understood the book better than he did as the author. However, there seems to be a remaining stigma about listening to books rather than reading them.
At book club, a girl will sheepishly admit that she “didn’t read the book she just listened to the audiotape” or when I talk about reading Infinite Jest (which admittedly might not have been the best choice for my monthly Audibles pick given the complexity/footnotes/lack of ability to flip pages) my mother said “you aren’t reading it you are listening to it.”
I view them as comparable experiences. In many ways, I think I enjoy the beautiful sounds of good writing when I hear it out loud. I will admit that listening does not require the complete concentration that reading does, but in a busy world that doesn’t seem less valuable.
Is it just me? Am I making the stigma up? What do you think about the hardcopy book (or ebook) versus audio book?