Speed-Reading Audio Books

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Speed-Reading Audio Books

Haje Jan Kamps of techcrunch just wrote an article about speeding your way through audiobooks. The idea is, you want to listen to audiobooks fast (presumably to save time?) while you’re in your car or something. There’s an app, he mentions, by Max Deutsch, who says “My top comfortable speed for audiobooks is currently around 5.3x. For podcasts, it’s around 4.5x.”

Which brings into question — and, for me, the most important question — about audiobooks: Why do they exist? For your car? For your entertainment?

Books (except for hardcore thriller fiction, such as Sidney Sheldon or something) have never been about entertainment. Here, we’re talking about all books — from erotica to spirituality. And the talk here is about speed.

Why would you want to listen to a book at a pace beyond the speaker’s voice? Only if you’re in a hurry, which is the problem. Why be in a hurry while reading — physical book, audiobook, online?

To be fair, the author — Kamps — does have a decent commentary: “For me, the big question is whether speed-listening is ever really going to be a thing. I’m a freakishly fast reader, but to me, podcasts and audiobooks are the antithesis of speed reading: It’s there to slowly be taken along with the storytelling, and some of my favorite podcasts... use sound effects, careful pacing, and elaborate audio craftsmanship to their full effect.”

Reading fast is one thing; playing an audiobook unnaturally fast is another.

That’s again tech at its worst.

On the Isle of Skye — personal anecdote be pardoned — a girl once said to me, “some people can do Skye in a day if they have a fast car.”

“Do” an island? With all its glory of natural bounty, you want to “do it”? It sounds exactly like “doing an audiobook.” It sounds like the aim is to get done with it.

Which is not the aim of the pursuit of knowledge, and which is the aim of the pursuit of technology.


Tags : Audio, Audiobooks