Audio, Digital and Paper, Oh My!

Audio, Digital and Paper, Oh My!

October 11, 2011


There’s this web series on YouTube called InterrobangYA, where book bloggers who blog about YA literature discuss various things relating to YA. I was really interested in Danielle’s recent video about formats..i.e. audiobooks vs. eBooks vs. paper books. I’d kind of been thinking about these issues and was going to post about it anyway, but this video prompted me to go do it. I thought I’d expand on some of the things I said in the video comments.

Here’s the thing: I strongly prefer paper books. There’s something about them that just can’t be replicated in other formats. 1 I like the smell of books. I like the feeling of turning the pages of a book. I like taking notes in my book and have yet to find an eReader with note taking capabilities that I like. When I’m about to start a chapter, I like being able to flip to the next chapter just to see how long the chapter I’m about to read is. I like curling up in bed with a book. I like the overall physicality of a book. If I’m going to spend money on a book, I want a physical copy. 2 Something about an eBook file doesn’t quite seem as real to me. So I don’t think anything will be able to replace paper books for me.

I’ve recently been getting into audiobooks. As Danielle mentioned in the above InterrobangYA video, a narrator can really make or break an audiobook. I’ve listened to, or tried to listen to, audiobooks with narrators that I thought were so horrible that I just gave up. Plus, listening to a book is not the same as reading a book. I’m certainly no psychologist, but I feel like listening to a book engages a different part of my brain than reading does. I really want to like audiobooks, though. I think it can be fun listening to an audiobook while doing something like knitting or crocheting, for example. Since I have a hard time focusing on a book in pubic, it can be nice to have an audiobook available when I’m on the go. As for the narrator issue, one thing I’ve found that can help is when you get an audiobook that’s read by the author. This is especially true when the author is an actor/actress/other celebrity who is reading their memoir or autobiography. I loved the audio version of Tina Fey’s Bossypants, for example. It also appears as though there are some audiobooks that are dramatized, to an extent. The ones I’ve seen have some of Tamora Pierce’s books, some classics and some plays. I haven’t listened to any of them yet, but I’d be interested in trying them.

I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve gotten two eReaders for free in the last six months ago: a Kindle and a Sony. To be honest, I use the Sony much more often (the Kindle is sitting in its original box in the shelf). I have three different types of things on my eReader:

  1. Blog posts I especially like and want to be able to reference.
  2. Magazines. I have a subscription to Bust magazine and digital versions are available of the magazine with the print ones (it’s set up so that I couldn’t just do the print version even if I wanted to, but I have to admit – it’s nice to have both).
  3. eBooks I borrowed from the library.

I already mentioned that if I’m going to spend money on a book I want the physical copy. I also feel like eBooks are way overpriced. For now, I’m going to stick with putting stuff on my eReader that are free to me (or in the vase of Bust, things that don’t cost anymore than what I’d be paying anyway). If I ever start accepting ARCs here – which isn’t going to be anytime soon – I think I’ll probably be open to the eBook version.

So, dear readers, what are your preferences when it comes to the format of a book? Also: if you’re an avid audiobook listener, I’d love some recommendations.


  1. It hasn’t been replicated yet, anyway. Who knows, maybe one day technology will evolve to that point.
  2. I also prefer CDs and DVDs to MP3s and whatever digital movie format for similar reasons.

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