alternatives to books

Cloud

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First, let me state my bias: I like books. No, I love books. I love the feel of them, the smell of them, flipping the pages, looking at them, reading them . . . you get the idea.

But I noticed someone here specifically mentioned audiobooks for an author he likes. I frankly cannot see the appeal of audiobooks, except for long car trips or commutes. Listening is not the same experience at all as reading. I want to be able to control the speed and intensity with which I process the words, not forced to listen to every single word enunciated at some actor's pace. However, I concede that people are different and different things appeal to many people. If you like audiobooks, why? How do you use them?

Another current alternative is ebooks. I find reading on the screen rather annoying, and I do too much of it already. I was just reading a blog where the person really likes ebooks because he can take them wherever he goes (on his notepad computer, presumably). I'm like, huh? What's wrong with sticking a paperback book in your bag?
 

j d worthington

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Hmmm. Well, I've no problem with audiobooks as such... I used to have several different books or stories on tape or disc (usually read by the author, actually, including Bradbury and Tolkien); and I grew up listening to recordings of old radio shows as well; in fact, listening to such things, as well as being read to, certainly stimulated my imagination and aided me when it came to learning to read myself. As a typesetter who worked out of his house for several years, I'd often put on one of those while working, so I could "read" books I enjoyed while also getting the work done. And, as someone who enjoys reading aloud to others, I also enjoy hearing it done well, hearing different sorts of interpretations (I recall hearing three different recordings, for example, of "There Will Come Soft Rains" from The Martian Chronicles ... one by Bradbury himself, one by Burgess Meredith, and another by Leonard Nimoy ... each was quite different, and gave a different feel to the story, but each was very enjoyable.
 

Cloud

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I think those are good points, JD; I can see where there would be some art there. I guess I just feel impatient with audiobooks and consider them soporifics.
 

elvet

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There really is nothing as good as reading a book on your own, but when you can't managed that physically, then an audio book might fill in. I had asked about Tolkien audiobooks for use at the gym. I wanted an alternative to listening to music or reading magazines (the only thing that fits on those aerobic machines).
But another alternative to reading books that I've found is playing adventure games. I realise that this is bending the topic a bit, but I truly find a similar experience when I'm playing my computer games. Now, to be precise, I don't play any violent, killing games that rely on twitch responses. The games I play are peaceful games where you explore different worlds. I prefer games without other characters, so there is no dialogue. Just exploring a world to find out about the story and the often previous inhabitants. The story unfolds as you discover journals or clues left behind - so reading is invloved to some degree. There is also the inclusion of puzzles or logic based challanges that make you think. The games that most exemplify this type of environment are the Myst series. It is like escaping into a fantasy book.
 

Parmenion

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I dont think you can ever replace books but some times i have found that im traveling a lot and so have some books on audio, but they must be the unabridged version i detest cut down versions.

I have seen ebooks etc...but at the end of the day i dont see them ever replacing a good hardbacl book.
 

ScottSF

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In Chaucer’s time, reading was often a social activity. People would gather together and one person would read out loud. I think most modern novelists have the solitary silent reader in mind. Now, on the other hand, some works of fiction were meant to be performed. I have tapes (remember tapes?) of Derrick Jacobi reading the Odyssey and I think the audio book is ideal for epic poetry that was meant to be performed in the first place. Also I have found audio performances of Shakespeare quite helpful. I took a poetry class and realized I started writing differently when I knew my stuff had to be read out loud. That in mind, I find some books on tape awkward and I’m guessing it’s because it’s because the author didn’t write it with performance in mind. I can see Tolkien working well because these were stories he told his children. So the advantage to an audio performance might be the added texture of a good performance. The same aspect can be a drawback, a bad performance can take a way from the story or even draw attention to sloppy writing that you might have just skimmed by in reading. Hey, didn’t Michael Jackson do an audio book of one of Steven Hawkins books?

Oh, and outside of fantasy. Generally with poets who also write novels, it can be really great to hear recordings of them reading their own stuff. I’m thinking specifically of Jack Kerouac. After I heard the way he read his own stuff I had his voice in my head with every book of his I read after and it added a dimension that I was missing. Maybe somebody can submit an audio story sometime as an mp3 or wav file in the critique section. It would have to be a brave soul.
 

Cloud

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Chaucer and Shakespeare are meant to be spoken (or performed). That's the main function of rhyme--to facilitate memorization. All the classic epic poetry around the world is also meant to be spoken because there were no books, or the written word was for scholars and the tax men.

I'm not talking about that--I'm talking about run of the mill novels
 
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jackokent

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I'd have to agree with you Cloud. Audio books don't do it for me and whilst they can be Ok in a car they can also be quite annoying.

Ebooks surely can't be as versatlile (i wouldn't want to take my notepad into the bath).

So for me there are no real alternatives to books
 

Nesacat

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For me there will be no alternatives to books. Paper and the printed word. I love how they look, how they fit in my hands, the texture of the paper, the way books smell even. I've walked along shelves of books just running my fingers along the spines sometimes or reading random bits here and there.

However, I do believe there's a place for audio books if only because not everyone is a position to 'read' a book. In university I was part of a group of students who recorded books so people in homes, in hospitals and the blind students on campus would have greater access to them.

When I had surgery on my eyes a few years ago and had them all bandaged for a week and was then unable to properly see or read for several weeks after, I listened to books. Some were audio books and others were read to me by people who came to visit. It was something I still am very, very grateful for.

So while I could never replace a real book with an audio one and definitely not an e-book (i'd probably kill myself trying to read in the bath) I'd say they have a place in the big scheme of things.
 

Loner

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I too love books. And as long as books exist I will never resort to ebooks which just annoy me and hurt my eyes much more than paper pages (not sure why that is, but there must be a scientific reason).

However audiobooks have a place in my life. I love to read, but I don't always have the time. I also love radio plays (I guess I just love stories) but we don't have radio plays any more (mores the pity), so sometimes I resort to audiobooks from the library to entertain me while I am doing a huge pile of dishes (damn my procrastination!), cooking dinner or knitting some long-awaited socks, things that don't leave my hands (or eyes) free for reading.

And if my eyesight ever goes I will be devastated!
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I think I've only tried listening to audio books twice, and in each instance the reader's way of "dramatizing" the text really, really annoyed me.

That's really not a fair sample to base an opinion on. I keep thinking that when I'm at the library I should pick up some more audio books and give them another chance, but I always forget.
 

littlemissattitude

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The only time I've ever been able to stick with an audio book, it was a book I had read a couple of times, and it was non-fiction.

My mind wanders too easily to really make a success of listening to audio books. Even when it is something I'm interested in listening to, I'll hear something that sends me off on some tangent of thought and I'll realize that I haven't heard anything that has been said for several minutes. This was a real problem when I was in school and trying to take notes during lectures, especially when I had a teacher who talked fast or didn't like to backtrack when I'd ask, "What was that you said after...?":D

I think part of my trouble with audio books has to do with the fact that I am very visually oriented. Sometimes, especially when I was in school, I would have to chart out information on a page, like making a map, in order to be able to really be able to understand it.
 

steve12553

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Cloud said:
Another current alternative is ebooks. I find reading on the screen rather annoying, and I do too much of it already. I was just reading a blog where the person really likes ebooks because he can take them wherever he goes (on his notepad computer, presumably). I'm like, huh? What's wrong with sticking a paperback book in your bag?

As much as I love books, someone has to play the devil's advocate. I can't say anything about audio books because I've never tried on. Ebooks are a different story although I don't know how many of this group really understand them. Reading an ebook on a laptop would be like reading a posting on a forum that was 200 pages long. (See you don't mind the screen but you do dislike the length of time following one topic on it). I am on my second PDA. Both of which have had Ereader program. My PDA is half the size of an average paperback, backlit and has a 512 meg storage capacity. Once I got accustomed to reading on this device, I literally had more than a hundred books available to me in a device small enough to go with me anywhere (to work). It is very discreet and since it also has a datebook and personal planner noone can question it's function. With all the free older books available for free in this format it's just too good to pass up for me. When I'm home, in the comfort of my own environs, I have my 600 or so hardback and paperback books and all the choice in the world but when I'm taking a break on the job, discretion is the best choice.
 

littlemissattitude

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Well, having a backlit PDA would definitely solve the problem of me wanting to read in bed but my mother wanting the light out (we share a bedroom). I might have to look into that. Where do you find the books for it, Steve - online, I assume? Maybe I'll have to look into that option.
 

steve12553

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littlemissattitude said:
Well, having a backlit PDA would definitely solve the problem of me wanting to read in bed but my mother wanting the light out (we share a bedroom). I might have to look into that. Where do you find the books for it, Steve - online, I assume? Maybe I'll have to look into that option.

Several choices. New books: http://www.ereader.com/
Free older books http://www.memoware.com/mw.cgi/mw.cgi?screen=browse
Also: http://manybooks.net/
And: http://www.baen.com/library/defaultTitles.htm
And there's others in both categories.
 

Cloud

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As much as I love books, someone has to play the devil's advocate. I can't say anything about audio books because I've never tried on. Ebooks are a different story although I don't know how many of this group really understand them. Reading an ebook on a laptop would be like reading a posting on a forum that was 200 pages long. (See you don't mind the screen but you do dislike the length of time following one topic on it). I am on my second PDA. Both of which have had Ereader program. My PDA is half the size of an average paperback, backlit and has a 512 meg storage capacity. Once I got accustomed to reading on this device, I literally had more than a hundred books available to me in a device small enough to go with me anywhere (to work). It is very discreet and since it also has a datebook and personal planner noone can question it's function. With all the free older books available for free in this format it's just too good to pass up for me. When I'm home, in the comfort of my own environs, I have my 600 or so hardback and paperback books and all the choice in the world but when I'm taking a break on the job, discretion is the best choice.

This post from a while back has stuck in my mind. With employers cracking down on internet usage, I'm wondering if getting a PDA with ebook capacity would be a good idea for me; I could download ebooks and my daily slash stories and, maybe, get wireless so I could surf the net without impacting on my employers' computers. Is this possible?
 

GOLLUM

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No idea Cloud but I've recently purchased an MP3 player and I've been able to download several MP3 audio stories incl. Lovecraft I play in my headphones at work whilst doing more minor or repetitive tasks...:D
 

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