Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Enough to Kill the Habit

As someone who very much enjoys a good audiobook, sometimes it can get frustrating. Since actual reading is part of my work-life (as in the non-fiction-part-of-my-job-responsibilities-tech side) and time for the fun, escapist reading conflicts with your family schedule (once you have kids in your life), delighting in audiobooks gets me back to that enjoyment that I started way back when... I'll get it on to my iPod and listen to them when and wherever I can. However, the pursuit of it can be vexing, see below...

There is the special exasperation an audiobook listener feels toward a poor narrator of a great book. Nothing screws up the experience quite so thoroughly as when one winces due to someone's vocal reading. It just breaks the spell, and grates on your nerves... That's even more so when it's the author--I'm talking to youThomas Harris and Mark Bowden--conducting the butchery. Though an author's genius is plainly on view on the written page of the published hard-/softcover, it is a rare quality that they also have the vocal/delivery/acting skills to actually narrate their own works to audiobook form. Believe me, I've heard enough of them for my ears to bleed...

It's no more of a disappointment than when you find out that no audiobook exists for the book you seek, as well. The simple truth is, the audiobook format exists for only a small portion of the books that get published each year. Not all authors have the opportunity to have their work produced in the audio space. By way of Corey's Drowning Machine blog, I'd love to listen to Declan Burke's work, but I'll have to wait till he sells enough to become better known to attract the publishers to produce such a work :-| (I know this because Mr. Burke kindly responded to my email query awhile back).

Plus, if you find the audiobook, then there is the concern about whether it's in unabridged or abridged form. For some, unabridged vs. abridged audiobook can lead to a few arguments. I very much prefer unabridged because that is what I'd want to read (if I had the time). But, here's the thing that drove me to post this. Sometimes, it'll be some stupid thing like the cost of an audiobook that'll drive one crazy. Corey's latest review, Beat the Reaper, got me on such a tangent. Bazell's debut book is available on Audible--so, on it goes to my download list. Easy...I have a subscription. Next, when you search on Amazon for other reviews, you find that it has folk associating his work with the likes of author Charlie Huston. Okay, I'm ready to give him a whirl, too. He's got a couple of series...fine. The Hank Thompson one looks good (no, not the singer), and it is in audiobook. Great. Let's start at the beginning of that series...

Oops, 'Caught Stealing' is not available at Audible. No worries, it's on audio CD. What's that going for? Maybe I can pick it up used... Sound Library publishes it and Amazon has for...$74.95!?! Settle...down... Used is okay. $59.05...is the cheapest! From a newly just launched seller!?! Must...sit...down. Surely, this is an aberration. Right? Let's head over to Alibris and search out other used sellers. Let's put in the ISBN and...arghhh, that's worse!!! Perhaps, Corey has some leftover Scotch...


  1. You can have all the Taliskers you want, or need, le0. You have my wholehearted sympathy. I've encountered some of these same problems on those occasions I do want to purchase an audiobook. Having early series work either be unavailable, or available only in abridged versions is maddening. I got pretty excited when I found out all the early Elvis Cole titles were finally being issued in unabridged versions. Then I heard Patrick Lawlor murder 'The Monkey's Raincoat,' which was so bad that I cheered when I found out Mel Foster did the reading for 'Lullabye Town' and 'Voodoo River.' Then I heard Foster read. Sounded like Elvis Cole was on Quaaludes.

    Does your library offer Overdrive so that you can download and listen to books without having to pay for them? Their selection is relatively small, but at least you can sample without paying.

    I don't think I'd want to listen to Thomas Harris read his books even if he was a good interpretive reader -- he would give me the creeps for sure.

  2. Corey, there is a special Hell for the truly evil...and it has Patrick Lawlor reading Ulysses out loud to those there, over and over again... After hearing him do the first, abridged Voodoo River, I knew I never wanted to hear him do TMR (or StA). I even contacted Brilliance Audio and let them know it! Mel Foster is better, but still pretty pedestrian. That's why I hunted down the Cole/Pike novels done by the BBC (UK) and enjoyed the William Roberts renditions. They, and he, are good.

    My Audible subscription earns me to 2 credits a month that gives me the option to use them toward their audiobooks (most go for 1 credit). And then they have periodic sales that allow me to save the credits for the more expensive selections.

    With regard to Mr. Harris, well, he did create Hannibal Lector now, didn't he? Heh, heh...

  3. I'm feeling your audiobook pain, Michael! I haven't had my mp3 player fired up for awhile, I've mostly been getting the CDs from the library to listen to in my car and on my stereo. I get frustrated because those are often damaged...the ones I can get anyway. And they are always damaged in the most inconvenient places!

    I've only purchased a few audio books, all used from the used book stores. I constantly have my eyes peeled, but the good ones are hard to find! I doubt many people are able to shell out $70+ for audio books; I don't understand why they have to be so darned expensive!

    Like Corey I get frustrated when you can't get the early books from a series on audio. I've been starting series mid-point and that drives me absolutely nuts - hate it!

    And you're abosultely right about a reader being able to make or break a book. I've shut several off completely because the readers were so bad (i.e. Yiddish Policemen's Union). And my definition of Hell is ANYONE reading Ulysses over and over! LOL

    Fun post!

  4. Jen: Not only do I find damaged CDs in the library but at Half Price as well. I found Lee Child's 'Bad Luck and Trouble' at HP and the disks are not scratched but there's something wrong with the majority of the disks. They all make that repetitive whanging noise so common to damaged cds. Also, a copy of Joseph Garber's 'Whirlwind,' had a couple of badly scratched disks. So I'm leery of buying their disks anymore.

    Michael: Lawlor and 'Ulysses' -- very funny! As long as I'm not one of hell's residents. I'll have to check out the William Roberts' editions.

  5. Corey, you have a standing offer for the Roberts read Crais novels. Just let me know and I can get them to you to try.

  6. Michael, that's very kind of you. I'd really like to try just one of the Crais/Roberts audios. If I like it, I'll probably buy my own editions. If you'll email me at central1973@aol.com, we'll work this out. Thanks!