Paper, Electronic, and Audiobooks...How to Decide?

Saturday, January 11, 2014
Photo by Stuart Miles
I have over two dozen books on my wish list, and lucky for me, Santa stuffed my stocking with Amazon and Barnes & Noble gift cards.

As I perused the booksellers’ web sites, I had to consider the format in which I wanted the book. Do I want to get it as a paperback? New or used? If used, how used would be acceptable to me? Or do I want a hardcover? Maybe I want an e-book, but if so, do I go with the Kindle version, or the Nook (my tablet has apps for both!). The audiobook is another viable option so I can “read” stories while on the go: driving, cooking, cleaning, etc.

I had to read my wish list again and then divided it into three categories: paper, electronic, audio.

For me to purchase a paper copy (either hardcover or paperback), the books have to be ones I want to display prominently on my bookshelves. For the most part, they have to be written by one of my favorite authors and/or part of a series in which I already had the paper copies. At the top of this list were MaddAdam by Margaret Atwood and NW by Zadie Smith.

This is definitely my largest category. A few years ago, after moving out of a third-story walk-up apartment into another third-story walk-up with 20+ boxes of books, I decided to go digital with my collection, with some exceptions (see above). This category mostly contains books by authors previously unknown to me, but came highly recommended by a friend or a book review. In my electronic queue right now are Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon. (Side bar: If I end up LOVING any of these e-books, I will purchase a paper copy to put on my bookshelf).

Photo by thanunkorn
Last fall, when I had an hour + commute to and from work every day, I delved into the world of audiobooks, which made my commute much more pleasurable. But some books are better suited as audiobooks than others. I tend to buy audiobooks of epic-length fiction and nonfiction, which are types of books that might lose my attention if I’m reading them, or just require more attention and time than I have to give them. Stuck in my car for several hours forces me to listen and pay attention. Two of my favorite audiobooks so far were 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

Which book formats do you prefer, and how do you decide which format to choose?

Written by Anne Greenawalt: writer and writing instructor.


Sioux Roslawski said...

I use a similar criteria, but I can't do audio books. When I drive, I like to listen to only music. (I also can't see myself going back to re-listen to a part of an audio book, which I do with physical books.)

When I am sure I will love a book (by a favorite author, like Sandra Dallas or Joe Hill or Jodi Picoult), I invest the money and the shelf space in the paper version. And when I travel to a workshop or go on vacation, I bring my e-book reader...because then I have with me any book I want to read.

Margo Dill said...

This is a really interesting post, and I never really thought about it before. I think I'm similar now--if I love something or know the author and want an autographed copy, I get a print copy. If I'm taking a chance, I get it on the Kindle. One question: do you find Nook's app to work well? DO you like it? I think I would like to support B and N as well as Kobo? Does anyone use that?

Anne said...

Margo: I like the nook app and it's easy to use, but I tend to use the kindle app more frequently because I also own a kindle and the books are usually the same price or cheaper.
Sioux: that's a great point about audiobooks...I can't remember a time I have re-listened to part of a book. Even if I wanted to, it'd be difficult to find it.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I love audiobooks, myself, so much I started to publsih them. I like the longer books, too, and listen to a lot of non-fiction, although I enjoy fiction, too. I listen while I'm driving, walking my dog, or doing boring household chores. I'd far rather be absorbed in a book than the vacuuming (thank you, earbuds).

Perhaps not for everybody, but as a convert from former snob who wouldn't give audiobooks a chance, I now urge people to try them out before they dismiss them. I should say that I'm a bit of a bibliophile, too, with a fairly large collection of print books and a background in print publishing, although lately, I've tended to purchase the ebook or the audiobook over the print.

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top