Credit: Sai Kiran Anagani – Unsplash
Audiobooks are currently experiencing huge growth, and as ebook sales stabilize, publishers are looking at audiobooks as the future. In June 2017, Publishers Weekly noted that “A study by Edison Research found that 24% of Americans listened to at least one audiobook in 2016, an increase of 22% over 2015” and “Total sales rose 18.2% over 2015, to an estimated $2.1 billion, while unit sales did even better. According to the report, unit sales rose 33.9%, to 89.5 million.”
Yet, in spite of this popularity and ever-increasing options for titles, I just cannot get onto the audiobook bandwagon, no matter how much I try. Here are five reasons I’m likely to stay a print reader:
I Hate the Narrator
I’ve tried listening to several audiobooks thus far, and the fact is that a good narrator can make a book, while a bad one can break it. I listened to half of Divergent before giving up and getting a print copy because the narrator sounded overly wishy-washy and made me despise Tris. I DNF’ed Wonder entirely because I disliked the narrator so much, and to this day I wonder if I would have had a higher opinion of the novel if I had just read it myself. Narrators are so hit or miss that I often hesitate to pick up an audiobook in the first place.
The Book Takes Too Long to Finish
I’m a fairly quick reader and can probably finish an average YA book in about 5-6 hours. So when I look at the run-time for an audiobook and see that I’m expected to spend 20+ hours to listening to the thing, I balk. It’s an enormous time commitment for something I can achieve efficiently by just reading the print book.
Speeding Up the Narrator Makes Them Sound Like a Chipmunk
Sure, technically you can change how fast the narrator reads on a lot of audiobooks, but the result often leaves something to be desired. I’ve had some success with marginal speed increases (like changing to 1.2x the speed), but if I speed up the book enough to make an actual difference in the overall run time, usually the narrator sounds like an incomprehensible chipmunk, and I have to abort the whole plan and go back to normal reading speed anyway.
I Can’t Multitask
Some people like to listen to audiobooks while they do something else, like commute to work or do the dishes or fold their laundry. Interestingly, however, polls have suggested that fewer people do this than publishers suspected. A lot of people just sit down and listen to the book, and I am one of those people. I can either concentrate on washing my dishes, or I can listen to my book, but I cannot do both at once. Usually this results in my missing part of the book and having to choose between rewinding or just dealing with it. The problem only gets compounded if I’m doing something noisy and can’t hear the book without cranking the volume up unreasonably high.
If I Don’t Move, I Fall Asleep
The obvious solution to problem #4 would be that I just sit down on my couch and listen to the book. Unfortunately, about 60% of the time that I try this, I fall asleep. It doesn’t matter if I wasn’t even tired before I sat down; if I listen to an audiobook for any reasonable length of time, I end up taking a nap. Then the book moves on without me, I miss everything, and I have no idea where I am or how to get back to where I was at the point I stopped listening. It’s a dilemma.
Audiobooks can be a great format, and, in theory, I understand why a lot of other people like them. They just don’t seem to work out for me, however, no matter how many times I try. It’s unlikely you’ll be seeing a lot of audiobook reviews from me on the blog anytime soon!