What Audio Books Can’t Deliver


Yesterday I discussed how and why I listened to audio books, and how my love of being read to evolved into a membership with Audible Books. I promised that today I’d give examples of what I miss about actual, hand-held books and what audio books can’t deliver.

Aside from the new book smell, the crack when you open a fresh tome, and the whisper of cotton, linen, or papyrus as you thumb through the new pages, there are a few more things Audible, CD’s, and Books-On-Tape can’t do:

  1. There is no instant replay

Sometimes I want to read a line again or pause just to savor the thought or the phrasing. The author has put a lot of time into the turn of a particular phrase, yet if I’m read to, I only get to hear it once. In a mystery I want to reflect on the information I’ve just been given and try to figure out who did it before the author tells me. If I’m read to I must hurry along.

  1. The spelling of proper names/foreign names is often way off

There have been times when I’ve seen a character’s or town’s name in a book review and been thrown because I’d spelled the name a different way in my head. This is happening right now as I listen to Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I just know that every name I hear is going to be spelled differently.

  1. BOT’s limit visualization

When someone else reads for me, I must follow along at their pace.  This eliminates the time I might take to look around the town and imagine the scene. If I were the reader, I’d slow down to see things for myself and allow my very vivid imagination to take over.

  1. Narrators are sometimes unsuited to the story

More than once, I’ve returned library tapes due to a terrible narrator. In a series I’m familiar with, the narrator had better bring it, or, at least be neutral enough for me to ignore. If the voice grates—a male not doing a female voice well, or vice versa—I’m done. Consult the reviews before you purchase a recorded story. If reviewers say the narrator is terrible, believe them.

  1. Picking up where you left off is a task

If I want to relax or read in bed, a bookmark or folded corner earmarking the place to pick up the book is easy. With a B-O-T, I must plug-in the headphones and cue up to where I last stopped.  Though, if I’ve listened on two or more devices, Audible will ask if I want to start at the current location. Also, I’m having a love affair with the Alexa Echo Dot that I purchased from Amazon on Prime Day. I just tell it what Audible book I want to hear and it kicks right in, no headphones or anything.

  1. Flipping back to see the cover is difficult

Yep, that’s me flipping back and forth to view the cover as I imagine the iconic bridge or rainforest—the skyscraper where the guy and girl meet—or the place where the decaying body was found—the monster last spied.

  1. B-O-T’s can come with a hefty price tag

When there were bookstores on the planet, I’d spend as much as $30 for a book-on-tape. Now, for $14.95, I get one Audible book credit per month. Over the years I’ve accumulated 6 credits, so I manage to keep a surplus of credits.


Despite what I’ve described as drawbacks, audio books are beneficial for these reasons:

BIG books are easier to digest

They’ve enabled me to cover most of the Bible. I’ve read entire self-help books where I’d normally just read the parts necessary to my personal search.

Audio Book’s give me the beauty of a foreign language

When I’m listening to a book by a British author or one who speaks English as a second language the accent is perfection. I wallowed in Jim Dale’s narration of the Harry Potter books. I’ve just discovered there is a UK narrator, Stephen Fry. I may  listen to Harry Potter all over again.

They provide work for voice actors

My two, all-time favorite narrators are Susan Ericksen and Bahni Turpin. After hearing Turpin read The Hate You Give, I listened to her Children of Blood and Bone. It was outstanding.

If you listen to audio books, which narrator stands out as exceptional?



In 2018, approximately 50,000 audiobooks were recorded in the United States with a sales growth of 20 percent year over year

A recent survey released by the Audio Publishers Associationfound that the overwhelming majority of audiobook users listen in the car, and over two-thirds of audiobook buyers described audiobooks as relaxing and a good way to multi-task. Another stated reason for choosing audiobooks over other formats is that an audio performance makes some books more interesting.


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Educator, Author, Blogger, and supporter of Independent Writers. One mystery novel, The Neon Houses, http://amzn.to/2kSqdPX. Find me on Twitter @boom_lyn.

12 thoughts on “What Audio Books Can’t Deliver

  1. Bahni Turpin is one of my favourite narrators, I will one click a book by any author without reading the blurb if she is narrating it, I have found so many wonderful books this way.

    The same goes for January LaVoy, I will get anything she narrates too.

  2. I loved reading your post Linda! I recently started audio books and feel the same way! The narrator makes a huge difference! If you fancy a read, I would love it if you could hop on over to my blog and share your thoughts!

  3. Good narrators make audio books a unique medium. I’ve gotten so spoiled by those who “perform” a book that I won’t listen to (even) professional actors who merely read them. When Titus Welliver, who stars in the online Bosch series, replaced the well-known audiobook narrator Dick Hill in the Harry Bosch detective novel series, I couldn’t listen more than a few minutes.

  4. I love your idea of listening to the Bible and self-help books! I agree a bad narrator can ruin the experience! Great post.

  5. Flipping back to review what I’ve read before is something I do frequently. and I love to check the co er and back as I read, reliving the blurb.I know audio books are growing in popularity, I’m just not there yet.:)

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