Monday, December 12, 2016

Visual Books

Audio books seem to be more popular than ever. When I listen to podcasts, which is like a short form audio book,  I often hear Audible.com as a sponsor. Amazon, who owns them also gives a free trial. So I decided to give it a shot.  Here's what I find so far.

The voice actor gives the book a bit more spice which is enjoyable, but after awhile I end up thinking that the audio is too slow and speed it up to 1.5-2x anyway which sort of kills that. I guess its hard for me to just sit back and enjoy a book when I know I can do it in half the time. There are certainly pros and cons to this attitude. Another thing that I found is that one of the main sells of audio books doesn't work well for me. The sell is that you can listen to it anywhere such as during the commute or working out. This sounds like it would work but what I find for myself is that I am so focused on my workout or even noticing things on my commute that I don't tune in to the book that well. Although I am hearing the words, the meaning is not registering in my head when I get the least bit distracted. I end up hitting the 15 second back button often. I don't find this surprising to me as I know that I am terrible at multi-tasking; unable to walk and listen at the same time.

So in order to listen to an audio book or podcast and get anything out of it I need to not be exercising or walking or commuting. Just sitting and giving it my complete attention. But if I were to do this, then I'd usually rather just be skimming a book instead. You can't really skim an audio book as fast as you would a book since you are really only limited to the jump forward button and the audio throughput is much slower than that of a visual scan.

I'm not saying that audio books are worse than visual books. I think if you polled the general population they would enjoy audio books better than visual books. I'm just pointing out some disadvantages of them and noting that I have a general preference towards speed of processing in my decision in most cases. For me the ideal audio book listening case is when I want to listen to a fiction story book with a specific voice actor that I enjoy. Otherwise I'll be processing my books in the old style visual format.