We all know a book as a story housed between two covers. Whether hard cover, paperback, big or small, a book is something that we hold in our hands and once we do, it’s like escaping to a new world.
The debate merges on regarding the benefits of e-books but this article is about another type of “book” that is becoming vastly more popular thanks to the newest technological advances.
In my opinion, the audio “book” is not a book. In fact, it’s the very opposite of a book. It’s more like a radio broadcast and I can picture a family of four huddled around their Zenith on a devil’s night in October 1938 listening to “The War of the Worlds” – as the alleged mass panic ensued. The difference is that said family also had a library of actual, physical books and a copy of H.G. Wells’ book of the same name.
I think some magic dissipates for those who delve into an audio book. The voice that reads to you in your head is no longer fashioned around what you deem most likable. The voice of whoever is reading the book for your “listening pleasure” is filling your ears.
Have you ever been close to finishing a novel, only to frantically flip through the last few pages to see how many more enthralling chapters there are to read? Your heart races as you enjoy the few seconds of anticipation? You can’t do that with an audio book.
What about that beautiful cover that entices you in the bookstore? The one with the built in bookmarks in the dust jacket? They don’t exist in the audio version.
Sure, I can imagine that for some people, listening to a book is the only way they can enjoy a fictional account from their favourite author; people who may have lost their sight or people who physically can’t hold a book in their hands. An audio book may be a senior citizen’s best friend. I am happy for them.
For the rest of us, there is one crucial element missing when you listen to a book. You are no longer reading. Reading the text between the covers is part of the joy. Reading a single, perfect line and being able to dwell on it and re-read it and analyze it to your heart’s content – this is what’s missing from an audio book.
When grandpa tucks little Jimmy in at night and tells him a story (sans book), do we say, “Oh, hey Jimmy, did you like grandpa’s audio book?” No.
When we chat over cocktails at happy hour and regale our friends with our latest escapades do we begin by saying, “Do you want to hear my audio book today?” No.
Maybe we should start calling audio books something else. Literary Broadcasts, perhaps? (I’m an author, I’m always seeking just the right word.)
A book is a book, just as an apple is an apple and an audio “book”, to tie this all up in a nutshell, is an oxymoron.
I’ll let you digest that as I go back to reading my physical, beautiful, book – the one with pages in the middle, in case there was any confusion.
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Barbara Avon is a multi-genre Author. She has written since she was young, pursuing her dreams and vowing to write for as long as she can. She has worked at several different media publications and will continue to publish novels until “her pen runs dry”. In 2018 she won FACES Magazine’s “Best of Ottawa” award for female Author and Spillwords “Author of the Month”. She believes in paying it forward and you can read about this belief as the theme is given voice in most of her books. Avon lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, Danny, their tarantula, Betsy, and their houseplant, Romeo.