When it comes to reading, I don’t discriminate against any format. I read printed books, ebooks and audiobooks. In fact, I have great appreciation for audiobooks. Where my love falls short though is abridged audiobooks. What’s the point of them?! I ask myself every time I stumble across them.
A Recent Ordeal with Abridged Audiobooks
Many of you might be familiar with the Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier. The books were originally written in German, so I set out to read them in German as well.
When I found out that there were audiobook versions, I was ecstatic — and then not so much. The ones I found were abridged. After some more searching though, I found the unabridged version (with a movie tie-in cover) of Ruby Red. The unabridged version was released years after the abridged version.
Since I already started the trilogy with an audiobook, I wanted to continue listening to the other two books. At first I only found the abridged version of the second book as well. When I finally found the unabridged version (again, with a movie tie-in cover) of Sapphire Blue, I was relieved.
Now that I want to listen to the unabridged version of Emerald Green, I’m at a quandary. Do I give in and listen to the abridged audiobook? Do I wait until the unabridged version finally comes out? This probably means waiting for the movie release, which is slated to be next year. Or do I just read the ebook? After all, I’m not going to buy a print version of the third book in a trilogy when I don’t own the first two.
You see, I like consistency. The absence of an unabridged version of Emerald Green foiled it. I could look for the unabridged English version but I’m not interested in switching languages in the middle of a series.
Why I’m against Abridging Audiobooks
1. Missing out on the story
Who’s to decide what’s important and what isn’t? There’s a reason an author wrote a book in a particular length. As much as abridging supposedly means to shorten while retaining the gist and style of the original, I take issue with it. Those little details that are cut out could make a world of a difference to the reader.
2. Does it even count as reading the book?
Personally, I think not. I’d be hard pressed to claim I read a book, which originally spans 900 pages when I end up only reading 300 pages courtesy of an abridged version. Same goes for an audiobook. By shortening a book, someone else already decides for me what’s important and what isn’t. No, thank you.
3. Underscoring Instant Gratification
An abridged book means investing less time and relying on someone else to process information. One is done faster with a book, and can claim at the dinner table that one knows what everyone’s talking about. But a book is more than plot points. Part of that surely gets lost in abridgement.
4. Less to Enjoy
I listened to the first three books of The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater as audiobooks. They were unabridged. Had they been abridged, I’m certain I wouldn’t have been able to understand what Pynch is all about. (Read the books to find out if you haven’t; you’ll thank me later.) Great books need to breathe for maximum impact!
Concessions Towards Abridged Audiobooks
1. Language Learning
For language learners, audiobooks are a great way to get acquainted with a new tongue. Long and difficult books can be very intimidating though, so abridged audiobooks can be a helpful access point.
Abridged audiobooks are less cumbersome for young ones with shorter attention spans. Shorter versions can introduce them to literature without boring them to tears. Collections of abridged classics are a prime example that serve that purpose.
2. Introducing audiobooks
I suppose if you’re new to audiobooks, the idea of listening to a book for ten hours when you can finish reading it in four sounds excessively drawn out. What more if a book is 34 hours long? (Yes, I’m looking at you, Game of Thrones!) For anyone just dipping one’s toes into the pool of audiobooks, abridged audiobooks are probably a more welcoming start.
Non-fiction books often contain charts and statistics. If a narrator were to read out every single figure and would tell me a mathematical formula that takes up half of a printed page, I’d give up on the audiobook. I wouldn’t be able to process. In this cases, I’d be more interested in listening to the arguments than to the numerical facts. I think in those cases, abridged audiobooks might be more favourable.
That’s exactly the point why I’m not a fan of audibooks at all. I think nowadays there are more unabridged audiobooks but when I first came in touch with them (about 10 or so years ago), everything was abridged.
While my sister listened to the audiobooks of Kai Meyer’s earlier works, I read them. I tried it once with Frostfeuer and started listening after I’d read it. It was only about four minutes in when I spotted the first sentence missing (don’t ask me how I could even recognise such a gap without cross-checking). That was more or less the end of it.
However, it’s not the only reason I’m not so fond of audiobooks, although one of the more prominent ones. I just want to be able to reread passages or sentences and I also want to read it in my very own pace with my very own intonation.
Ellie recently posted Currently Reading #3: Quintana of Charyn
For English audiobooks I’ve generally been successful in finding unabridged versions. For German audiobooks it’s been a bit more challenging.
I agree with you. Sometimes I like to reread certain parts or want to be able to flip back to cross-reference. That’s very difficult to do with audiobooks. I usually pick up audiobooks of books that I’ve been wanting to read but weren’t exactly priority. If I do pick up a priority TBR book in audiobook format, then I only do that because the narrator sounds very promising, such that I think I’ll love the listening experience.
Shannelle C. says
I didn’t even know there was such a thing. :/ I’d take them for classics, like the Austen ones. I don’t get why people call her great at all, and the last time I tried reading one of her books, I didn’t understand a thing. That’s the only time I would take an abridged audiobook happily.
But for YA? The language is simple, and I can understand it. No abridged versions for me in that case!
Shannelle C. recently posted Pretty in Ink: The Winner’s Curse
Lol. Yeah, when it comes to classics, I think most people would find it difficult to listen to the really long ones. Imagine listening for 50 hours to the same book! I don’t see myself succeeding at that, especially it it’s a classic. I don’t think my mind would be able to absorb the language.
Hmmm. I have yet to read an Austen novel. I plan to read Pride & Prejudice this year. I’m curious how that’ll go for me.
I don’t like any abridged books! I run across them every now and then when looking for children’s fairy tale stories. I just don’t understand the point. If I’m going to pick up a book, I want the WHOLE book; its why I read!
AlyssaZ recently posted Cinder Review
Yes, Alyssa! Someone who understands! :D Now if only publishers would too. Although, if they were to released both the abridged and the unabridged versions, then I’d find peace too ;)
Miss Bookiverse says
I don’t get this German trend of abridging audiobooks either, especially because you can never tell how much they abridged. Did they leave out whole chapters? Did they cut a sentence here and there? Did I miss about 50 pages or 200? I wish they had some percentage system that shows you how much they abridged.
There’s also something called “authorized reading version” (Authorisierte Lesefassung) which supposedly means that the author approved of the shortened version. I kind of doubt that is true, especially with translations. Did they really ask the author if they could leave out that part and this part? I just can’t imagine that.
I must admit sometimes I’m glad about a shortened version. That’s when I really want to know what happens in a book but it turns out I don’t enjoy the book very much ;D
You could probably lend Smaragdgrün as an ebook from the Onleihe. I’m sure they have it available.
Exactly! There is no point of reference on the proportion of the book that remains intact in the abridged audiobook. It’s so frustrating! Smaragdgrün is currently only available as an abridged audiobook. I suppose the full-length one will only be released when the movie hits the theatres, which is still quite a long time off.