Saturday, May 3, 2014

Shadow versus the audio book

In a previous essay I wrote in June of 2011 entitled "The romance of the printed word", I tackled my feelings about digital versus print books.  In that year a lot of controversy was  in the air about these competing platforms. At that time it never occurred to me to even mention audio books as they were completely off my radar.  Since that time the audio book industry has experienced massive growth.
People who have long commutes listen in their cars.  Many who stare at screens all day come home with tired eyes and can close them while listening to their favorite authors.  Instead of bedtime reading with the light shining in your eyes one can lay back and enjoy the dark while still catching up with a few chapters.  Audio books also do well in our public libraries.
Despite costing as much or more than a hard-bound book, audio editions remain a value as they generally consist of superior packaging and often up to 10 CD's.  Over the years I have tried to listen to them but found the readers boring and the execution both mundane and often annoying.  However, as more professional actors and skilled verbalists are hired to execute these books, the climate has changed for the better.

I now believe this medium serves as a viable alternative to the paper book(still my favorite form) and will serve me as a welcome alternative.  As I get older and my eyes can no longer endure all day reading and writing sessions, therefore I now look forward to closing my eyes and just listening.
For example, I recently listened to five of Colin Cotterill's books featuring the Cambodian Dr. Siri.  A wonderful series of wry and arresting tales of a good man trying to survive under the Khmer Rouge.
Another audio book I highly recommend is Deborah J. Ledford's "Crescendo".  This is the third book in her series featuring the Native American police officer Inola Walela.  Aside from the fact that this is a terrific series featuring a complex set of psychological mysteries replete with utterly complete and fully rounded characters, the audio book version came as a revelation.  Christina Cox, the actress who reads the book, has uncanny control of each and every character and is able to sustain a differentiation in timbre and intonation throughout the 8CD's and over nine hours running time.
As I concluded about E-books, I now feel the same about audio books.  Each platform has a place and a use.  Anything that gets more people reading, in what ever form that "reading" takes place
can only be of benefit to us all.