I'll come up with something in a minute.

End of Side One

Barnes & Noble was having a big 50% off sale this week, so we bought some books. I got a handful of audio books and started the process of recording them into MP3s for the computer. Most these books are old, a lot of them came from the used section in fact. That means that they are almost all something I haven’t had in a while: Abridged. Back in the early 90s, when I first started listening to audio books as an alternative to struggling through reading them (often giving up and not reading as a result) almost everything was abridged. That probably sounds strange to anyone who buys audiobooks today. In some ways you are wished the best of luck in finding anything abridged for audio, but back in the day these two tape long sets were all the rage. Huge swaths of the story would be removed to get the book down to 180 minutes on two cassettes. If it was a big book, they might stretch the point and give you 4 tapes, but still an abridged version of the story. Now of course, they record the whole book.

There is something charming in the abridged audio books though, more nostalgia than sense. I hated abridged books and if given the choice I will still buy the unabridged version. I am looking at my new audio copy of Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon (I already have Hannibal on audio (strangely also an abridgment)) with some strange affection though. I know I’m only going to get the important bits, the bits that REALLY matter. Of course the trade off is that I’ll probably loose all the things that made the book good in the first place. Little things like character development, side plots and depending on how to the bone the abridgement is… entire characters are sometimes excised. There are often entire chapters missing from the 2 tape versions of these books.

I always liked the extra effort some companies would put forth, adding a little music at the start of each side, a few sound effects now and then, and the bit I always remove when making the MP3 files the side markers. Since the tape and the reading might not always match up, they would sometimes have the reader announce “End of Side One” and “Side Two” at the beginning and end of each side to help you keep track of where you were. I remove those now because I don’t need to swap tapes any more, so those audio signposts marking where in the tale I am are useless to me now. Still, I can’t help but smile a little as I listen to some actor announcing that I’ve reached the end of the tape and should fast forward so I can flip the tape over.

These are the sort of things my teen years were made from. I kept listening to the books, obviously, but they became more routine and less special. However, I haven’t actually got any new audiobooks on tape in a long time. CDs took over the audiobook world just like they did every other recording medium a while ago (although it took longer for books than everyone else) and so actually having to run the tape through my stereo and into the computer is sort of neat in a quaint sort of way. It’s not as big a deal as I make it sound, when I want to record a radio show off the internet, I run the signal into my stereo and then back into the computer because I get better recordings with the software I have using that method.

Anyway, I’ve got a nice new stack of books to record and put on my ipod. Once I do that, I can tell you if William Horwood’s continuation of The Wind in The Willows is a travesty or not. Strangely, I don’t actually seem to have The Wind in The Willows as an audio book. I have a BBC adaptation I got of Radio 7 a few years ago, and I’ve got a paper copy of the book, but no audio version of it. I’ll have to go get one I suppose.

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July 6, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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