Wither the Audiobook

Last week I posted a list of the podcasts I presently listen to on a weekly basis. One area of the modern reading experience referred to on a increasingly regular basis is the whole world of audiobooks.

As a writer I admit to having the thought of eventually releasing my works in audiobook format but production and distribution is a large subject best left for another day. This post is about my thoughts on the reading by audiobook experience.

To start, I have listened to a handful of audiobooks during extended road trips. This includes using regular CDs, MP3 CDs, and via the Audible app on my phone. Just enough for me to have a foundation from which to postulate.

Roadtrips are a good place to listen to an audiobook with one caveat. If you are not alone in the car you are signalling to everyone else that conversation is not welcome while the book is playing. During my day to day routine things get a lot trickier. Right now the majority of the time I have for listening is taken up by the podcast rotation mentioned on my last post. To make room for audiobooks I’d have to give some of them up.

A quick estimate based upon the three podcasts that push audiobooks the most suggest I could free up two hours a week by no longer listening to Functional Nerds, Writing Excuses, and Wordslinger. I’m sure they won’t mind losing my listener support to follow their ongoing advice.

Two hours a week equals eight to ten hours a month. About the length of your average audio version of a full length novel.

I further estimate I may be able to carve out another two hours each week by adjusting my daily priorities. This is where things get tricky since this cuts into time I presently use to do things like think about where my writing/editing endeavours are headed. Another danger, listening to audiobooks is far more passive than reading, making easier to listen on when I should be getting to other things.

I am now capable of listening to two audiobooks a month.

One good thing about listening via Audible is the ability to accelerate playback speed. If a little experimentation shows I can handle a book at 1.5 speed I can hear six hours of story per week. In the unlikely event that I can remain sane at 2.0 speed that becomes eight times, or almost a book a week.

Audiobooks tend to be for more expensive than either print or e. I could go the library route though this will almost certainly limit me to CD or MP3 CD at this time. No acceleration. It would also limit me to older books for the most part. Audible.com does have a monthly subscription option but that would only get me one average length novel each month. At this moment I can’t see how that would work for me.

All in all it looks to me like audiobooks just don’t fit into my reading experience at this time, except on road trips.

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