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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » Audiobooks, eBooks, and the real deal

   
Author Topic: Audiobooks, eBooks, and the real deal
pooka
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On the "how does OSC do it" thread the use of audiobooks came up. Is there really a difference between listening to a book vs. reading it? Yeah, you can't flip back and reread something quite as easy if you space off. But in general, do you (great ubermind of Hatrack) feel it is cheap if I say I've read a book when I actually listened to it?

A lot of people seem to think reading itself is important, like when they get mad at people who don't see Harry Potter as virtuous, they say "It gets kids to read." Assuming the children otherwise know how to read, why is it so important that they take in information by reading?

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Steve_G
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I claim to have read many books, when in fact I just listened to it. There are some disadvantages, especially when listening to nonfiction. You don't get the benefit of any charts maps, pictures, etc. Fiction however rarely has that, and when it does its usually secondary to the story.

I listen to 3 to 4 audiobooks per month and read one or two books in a month concurrently. When I get busy moonlighting, I listen only and that helps me keep my sanity until the projects over and I can read again.

One side benefit or side effect of audiobooks is that you can't judge the author solely on the work. If its abridged, than the abridger deserves some credit or blame (see my thread on the Enchantment Audiobook), and the quality of the reading can also make or break the book.

Some of the best audiobooks I've listened to were read by the authors. An exceptional author/reader is John J Nance, who is an ex airline pilot and writes aviation thrillers. Because he wrote the book based on his own experiences, and reads the book as well you get about as clear a story as can be read.

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Stephan
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I don't listen well myself. In fact I should say I barely listen at all (just ask my wife). I cannot listen to an audiobook. None of it will sink in. I just sort of zone out, and stop listening. Reading on the other hand has the complete opposite effect. When reading, I am not capable of paying attention to anything else.

I know reading is supposed to benefit the brain. It could be just a coincidence, but the only grandparent of mine that never read much of anything was the only one to develop alzheimers.

Whatever circuits reading touches in the brain, I would be curious to know if audio books do the same thing.

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Scott R
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I love audiobooks. I do a lot of my reading that way.
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Boon
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I am currently in the process of training my children to listen for details when they listen to a story. Audiobooks play a big part in that training. They actually read about half their school books every day, and the rest are either read to them or are audiobooks. Then they're required to narrate back what they've just heard/read with great detail.

I think this will help them when they get to college, as it'll be easier for them to listen carefully to lectures and take effective notes.

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pooka
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There is a weird personality theory about people being visually oriented vs. audio oriented (and the relatively rare kinesthetics). They estimate 70% of people are the visual type. Obviously, everyone is a blend of sensory type but most people favor one over the other.

Oh, hi Boon! I have not seen much of you lately.

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Steve_G
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I heard an interesting story on NPR's Science Friday a few weeks ago, about some research that shows people blind from birth use the same part of the brain for reading braille as others use for sight.
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striplingrz
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Here is a new twist to the topic...

I simply can't afford $$$ the audio books. I keep saying to myself, I need to buy one to see how much easier this can be for me. But then I go to the store and see a) the books I want usually aren't in stock in audio format or b) they cost like $35-40.

That simple fact keeps me from ever experimenting with this method.

I have rented some books from the library when I was taking my family on long drive vacations. That was pretty cool. But again, the renting from library option is much cheaper and you are still beholden to the selection available.

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BandoCommando
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
There is a weird personality theory about people being visually oriented vs. audio oriented (and the relatively rare kinesthetics). They estimate 70% of people are the visual type. Obviously, everyone is a blend of sensory type but most people favor one over the other.

Oh, hi Boon! I have not seen much of you lately.

Interestingly, my experience in teaching music leads me to believe that while most people LEARN visually, people REMEMBER kinesthetically. Take, for instance, the memorization or even learning of a piece of music.

Some people have what we call 'perfect' or 'relative' pitch. These individuals may find it easier to learn/memorize a piece of music based on how it sounds. They audiate (hear in their head), then determine which pitch to play on their instrument. In my experience, admittedly anecdotal, this is found primarily among young musicians who have not yet learned to read music, or those who had no formal training in how to read notes.

Still others have a visual memory of the notes on the page. They close their eyes (or not) and visualize the sheet of music, off which they can read the notes. This is not very common, as most people don't have that reliable of a visual memory for what are essentially abstract details.

Lastly, there are people who, after several repetitions of a musical phrase, have a kinesthetic memory of how it FEELS to play the piece. Rather than conciously remembering either the intervalic relationships between notes or the look of the sheet music, there is an almost automatic working of the fingers, lips, jaw, and tongue that coordinate based on the habit of long memory.

I suppose there exist still others who remember music based on the theory of it, or bloody-minded memorization of the values and pitches of notes, but this kind of memorization seems only used as an aid.

I was one of the people who memorized kinesthetically. This presented some difficulties when I was an undergraduate when my flute professor required me to memorize an etude or a movement of music every week. You see, he's one of the aural types. If he hears the music just once, he can play it back flawlessly, by ear. He can then also transpose the music to a different key, again, by ear. Me? I had to play it over and over again until my fingers played the notes with little concious effort.

Of course, that didn't help when I would arrive at the lesson, and he'd ask me to transpose it up a whole step. Then all of my kinesthetic stuff was useless.

(Sorry about going off on a tangent from your original thread, pooka. I just have done a lot of thinking about learning styles as related to my field and saw this as a great place to spout.)

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mr_porteiro_head
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I also do much of my reading with audiobooks. When speaking about the books I'm reading, I make no distinction between reading it with my eyeballs or my ears, unless it's relevant.

For example, here are two pet peeves of mine related to audio books: A) British readers doing really bad American accents (I know I should be more charitable, considering how many bad British accents they probably have to endure, but hearing a poorly done American accent completely throws me out of the story) and B) audiobooks readers mispronouncing words.

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Cyronist
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I have never listened to a whole audio book, not even more than 10 mins really. I prefer to read the book myself, but I don't condemn anyone who listens to audiobooks. Its great when you are driving, or on the bus and you get carsick, but I'm 14 and I fill the time not spent on homework with reading/video games.
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Razputin
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I also never experienced a book via audio and probably will never do it. There is something so comforting about holding a good soft-cover book and actually flipping the pages.
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Liz B
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The visual/ auditory/ kinesthetic learner stuff is pretty widely accepted in education...not really a weird theory anymore. [Smile] Visual can be further divided into visual-verbal and visual-images. I'm visual-verbal, so I learn best by reading words. I also do pretty well at auditory, but it's not my preference.

The music question is an interesting one. I'd say I memorized music kinesthetically, which is usually NOT my learning preference. Perhaps that's why I hated and dreaded piano recitals so much. (For cello, we were allowed to have the music. What a stupid, stupid rule for piano recitals. Without it, perhaps I would remember piano with much more fondness.)

And yet... I memorize a lot of poetry, and I don't generally picture the words when reciting...I think of what *sounds* right. Interesting.

As for the topic at hand...I was anti-audio books because I'd never heard good ones. Then the librarian at our school gave me some recommendations, and while I'd still much rather read a book, I also really enjoy listening to an excellent reader perform a great book. Jim Dale's performances of Harry Potter are wonderful, and perhaps my favorite audiobook of all time is Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Desperaux. See if you can get it from your library, and try it. It's storytelling at its finest.

And yes, listening to an audiobook counts as reading a book. I require my students to also read books because "traditional" reading increases fluency, which is one of my instructional goals for students. But experiencing a book via audio means you've experienced the book, and can still discuss issues, themes, character, etc.

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Catseye1979
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I only listen to audio books when going on a long car trip, and then I sometimes have to read the book later. I prefer reading to listening mostly because reading is faster (I'm a speed reader, rare if a book takes me longer then a couple hours). Also because when listening to people or recordings things tend to go in one ear and out the other, and that's when I'm listening hard.
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Cyronist
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Ahh, Liz I'm totally on the same page with you on the music factor. When I play scales, I don't think of the notes I'm playing, I just let my fingers pump out what ever valve combination feels right and I've learned to trust it. Its kinda cool.
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Don Domande
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I am a recent audio book enthusiast - I have an hour (sometimes hour and a half) commute to work each way, every day, so spend a lot of time in the car. Though I'm a music teacher, I find I really can't listen to music in the car, for a number of different reasons that I won't go into in this thread.

There are a number of differences - for one, I find I get a little frustrated with how long it takes me to listen to a book rather than read it - I am capable of reading a 400 page book in a day, but that same book in audio format will take a week or more to listen to in the car. And, as mentioned, the performer makes a huge difference. I love the readings of Scott Brick, and will sometimes look for books specifically because he is reading them, rather than for the author. On the other hand, I've just listened to a book by an author that I love (DeMille) read by someone who I thought slaughtered the book - the reader puts their own inflections on it, and I thought the guy misread the main character.

I will often have a book at home that I read, and simultaneously have a book that I am listening to in the car. I also get very absorbed in whatever I'm reading, so it's sometimes to my advantage depending on my schedule NOT to get involved in reading a book in real format, since I tend to let other things slide until I finish.

Use the library - what I've found works best for me is to check out a number of books on CD, and rip them. That way, I have a "library" in my car that I can choose from. Many audio books are now being published in MP3 format, making it even easier. Many libraries now even have websites that members can go to to download audio books. The only problem is that you have to have a compatible MP3 player, since they expire after a time, and the player has to be able to read them that way.

It's ideal in my situation, but I can't imagine just sitting down at home to listen to a book - really it's just a car thing for me. I find if I start doing something else I'll miss a lot of the book.

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pooka
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quote:
I require my students to also read books because "traditional" reading increases fluency, which is one of my instructional goals for students.
I think this is an interesting point, and I suppose what people are getting at with the Harry Potter angle. I don't remember having to work on fluencey, and so it's kind of a mystery to me. I assume it refers to getting past decoding letters to interpreting entire words and phrases, what is responsible for people missing the extra "the" in those brain teasers, or not counting the "f"s in "of".
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Steve_G
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quote:
Originally posted by Don Domande:

It's ideal in my situation, but I can't imagine just sitting down at home to listen to a book - really it's just a car thing for me. I find if I start doing something else I'll miss a lot of the book.

I am the same way. Audiobooks are for cars. paper is for home. However I can also listen to books while I work on the computer, and don't miss much, unless I come up against something that requires more concentration, then I turn it off. And since E-books is in the title of the thread, I'm going to mention I can't read those things at all.
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BandoCommando
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Ah yes. E-Books.

I read them all the time, out of convenience. Related to the "re-reads" thread on the other side of the forums, I've managed to get ebook versions of most of my ebooks onto my PDA and read them during the occassional down-time minutes when I am away from my computer (otherwise I'd be checking Hatrack or playing a game). It's actually more rare to see me with a print book than an ebook, unless I'm on vacation and have long periods of time to kill, especially since I stopped carrying a backpack around with me all the time. I just can't be bothered to carry that one extra thing.

Besides, I don't have to dogear/bookmark pages, OR have a reading light with an e-book.

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DDDaysh
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Audio books have become a recent savior for me. I too have an hour (or longer) commute each way for work, and my work is often alot of very dull data entry on a computer. Audio books take the focus of my concentration so I don't get bored and start staring off into space (thus not doing my work). I have found it very nice to listen to books in audio format that I've already read. It's neat to hear other voices say the words, and see the inflections other people found. On the other hand, the expense does keep me from buying very many, so I'll still maintain good old paperbacks most of the time.

Recently I joined audible, and downloaded Shadow of the Hegemon because my little brother wanted to read it, but, being only a 6th grader, found reading the actual book to be a daunting task. (He DOES read, but he'd prefer to listen.) I was VERY upset to realize that in the middle of the book, they left out an ENTIRE section. Is this only on the audible version? It's the unabridged audio book. Has anyone listened to the CD portion of it? Is there a part missing on the CD's too?

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Cheli
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I've read e-books, and I've attempted to listen to some audiobooks. I can usually get through the e-books (though I strayed away from Nineteen Eighty-Four for weeks near the middle of it), but I just can't stand audiobooks for some reason - maybe it's just that the ones I've tried to listen to haven't been read very well.

But in the end, I think neither of them really compares to curling up in bed with a paperback novel.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by striplingrz:
Here is a new twist to the topic...

I simply can't afford $$$ the audio books. I keep saying to myself, I need to buy one to see how much easier this can be for me. But then I go to the store and see a) the books I want usually aren't in stock in audio format or b) they cost like $35-40.

That simple fact keeps me from ever experimenting with this method.

I have rented some books from the library when I was taking my family on long drive vacations. That was pretty cool. But again, the renting from library option is much cheaper and you are still beholden to the selection available.

40 bucks is the sucker price for an audiobook these days.

Look at Audible.com for deals that are WAY better than that. You can sign up to buy two books a month (downloaded) for $10 each, and you get discounts as a subscriber on all the other content. Downloading is definetly the WAY TO GO.

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Chronus
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I personally prefer reading, to listening. When I read I get into the book, I live it. I visualize most of what is going on in the book. However when Iím looking for specific detail from the book I will listen to the books. My sister loves listening to books so she can get other stuff done at the same time, like cleaning the house, working on puzzles, and such.
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Amilia
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I've been catching up on my Unshelved, and I came across this book talk. It fit so perfectly with the conversation that I couldn't resist.
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