Columns The popularity of an audiobook changes literature in an irreversible way because the listener is cruel to the author

“The space hero gets into hyperspace. The first but not the only end. The fourth room a and b cannot be prevented ”? Try to keep up with yourself, writes Jussi Lehmusvesi.

Rich a year ago author Laura Lindstedt wrote to Helsingin Sanomat essay, in which he reflected on the impact of the audiobook on our literature. Lindstedt had noticed that it was simplifying and emptying under the dominance of sound.

Jussi Lehmusvesi­

The disappearance of quotation marks and italics in the audiobook version of his own work had caused something to sprain in the author’s brain.

“When a book is read as an audiobook, the visual elements of the text disappear. Of course, the sofa in italics can be pronounced a little differently, for example, by holding a small art break in front of a word. But it’s not the same thing. Italics are not the same as short silence, ”Lindstedt wrote.

At the time, I still considered Lindstedt’s essay a rather pointless nailing. The book industry went badly and the rise of audiobooks was hard to see as a negative thing.

After that I started to think that Lindstedt may well be right.

Indeed, I found the audiobook listener really cruel work of the author.

For example goes though Marisha Rasi-Koskisen a praised and no doubt a great novel Rec (S&S, 2020), the beginning of which is quite challenging.

In the past, it would not have bothered. I would have taken the physical book in my hand and translated the pages with interest. A little jumped over the pages and maybe came back. Now I listened for the first minute and a half to how the reader Mikko Leskelä read aloud the cover texts of the book, then the source material used by the author. Then title deed.

After listening to the book for almost two minutes, it began.

The first half minutes were able to interest above. After that, Leskelä began to list:

“Photography is killing. Rooms one line four. Nik. Rec. The last hours. The first room you’ve seen my picture. He who saw the sun. The last hours. Second room only one child. Boy from the dark. Space hero and stagnant time. Stones in boxes and cut papers. The last hours. Third room and slowly crumbling. Three boys and two secrets. Space hero and the forces of darkness. The third secret. The space hero gets into hyperspace. The first but not the only end. The fourth room a and b cannot be blocked. Rooms five line nine … ”

And etc. The more outspoken narration began more than seven minutes after I started listening.

It was too much for me. Sure, an audiobook can be rewound, but it’s stressful when you don’t know when the more listener-friendly part will begin.

Or does it start at all.

The decision to stop listening was facilitated by the fact that there are two hundred thousand other books waiting in the same application.

Equally by law, many children’s books suffer from the change in format. The reader’s attempt to transform a scene presented in a physical book, for example, as a cartoon, into mere speech, often causes the listener to be restlessly amazed.

“Mmm … maisk … mmm … maisk,” someone says Neropath’s diary in the audiobook version (WSOY, 2009), but it is difficult to say who. And why.

Recin fate has been experienced by many other books, such as Stuart Turton The Seven Deaths of Evelyn (Otava 2020). In the work, the man who witnessed the murder wakes up every morning in the body of a new person, and begins time and time again to solve the mystery.

The book has been awarded the best debut of the year in England.

I myself listened to the work, at least when I put the cottage, and in the middle of all the hammering, I didn’t know whose skins were ever being transported.

The book was interrupted, the cottage renovation was not.

Maybe I’ll come back to that sometime as a text version.

Demanding works that use structures, rhetorical experiments, and complex time hops have been replaced by more relaxed novels as audiobooks in my headphones.

Lately I’ve been listening to, inter alia, Rachel Cuskin great book trilogy (Contours, Transitional and Honor, 2020 S&S) as well as Joel Hahtelan The ability to breathe miniature novel (Otava, 2020). In them, the event proceeds for the most part under the guidance of a chronologically safe and identifying self-narrator.

“I have come to the city in search of my father, who disappeared fifteen years ago”, Konstantinos Haahtela protagonist tells the reader Anssi Niemen with a voice, and you have to listen to it.

That can be found?

And how does that change Constantine as a human being?

Sometimes the listener of an audiobook is also gracious to the author. I’m listening now Joël Dickerin The truth about the case of Harry Quebert -dekkaria (January, 2014, audiobook: 2020). The book is endlessly chattering, but it doesn’t hurt to listen to the snow-capped beautiful Töölönlahti.

There doesn’t seem to be any danger of the narrator falling off the ride in the overly long story.

Reading the text version would be quite a leap.

En want to generalize my own experience to the entire readership. Many will probably listen fluently to any experimental prose, while my own focus would be weakened even today in a padded space shuttle. Still: if the inevitable rise of the audiobook towards the prevailing form continues, it cannot help but affect what kind of books are published.

The radio play has cut off the extra-long intros from the pop songs, and the same is likely to happen soon in audiobooks as well.

In place of then comes all sorts of new things. In the future, an audiobook can probably be listened to not only by the actor and the author, but also by Tapio Rautavaara read. If that happened to please you.

Probably the change that shakes the literature goes as it often does: its speed is overestimated, but its significance is underestimated. Changing the prevailing book format to an audiobook would be a profound change, and probably irreversible.

And if enough people do the same as I did for the unfortunate Rasi-Koskinen, the worst books to read will not be published at all.

Rec also changes to deletion in publishing houses.


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