Bookish bits & bobs

 

Just a random collection of some bookish thoughts bouncing around my brain this week.

 

 

 

  • Audiobooks. Love ’em. But here’s my issue: Why don’t audiobooks include the acknowledgements or author’s notes at the end? If I’m listening to a book, I want the full experience and full content. I only discovered the lack recently after listening to a couple of historical fiction audiobooks. I ended up browsing through the hardcovers at the library, and saw that the print books includes notes about the historical setting and context. Well, why wasn’t that on the audiobook? It adds to the reading experience, and clearly the author felt it was part of what she wanted readers to know. I don’t understand… and it makes me mad. Not that I’ll stop listening to audiobooks, but it leaves me wondering what I’m missing.

 

  • Book review ratings: I don’t do them. At least, not here on my blog. I play along on Goodreads, but I made the decision way back when to do narrative reviews without any sort of quantitative scale. Lately, though, I’ve started rethinking this. I know when I read reviews on other people’s blogs, I’ll often check the star (or unicorn or banana or teacup) rating first, and then decide if I want to read the whole review. So shouldn’t I expect others to expect the same from me? This is a bigger question than just a few lines and a bullet point, so I’ll be expanding on the topic sometime in the coming week, and would love some input.

 

  • Amazon customer service rocks! I have never had a bad experience once I connect with a service rep, and this week was no different. I bought a Kindle edition of a new release in early April, and started reading it this week. And hated it. By 15%, I just knew I couldn’t continue. And I was mad, because it was past the one-week deadline for returning Kindle content. I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. It’s not the amount spent was going to break me or anything, but if I’m spending money on a book, I don’t want it to end up being something I actively dislike. Anyway… I reached out and ended up in a chat with a lovely and helpful Amazon rep, who arranged to return the book for a refund within the blink of an eye. No quoting policy, no trying to convince me of anything, no telling me I was wrong. Just a very nice “I’m sorry the book didn’t work out for you” and a resolution that made me happy.

 

  • When is a novella a novella? When is it really, instead, a short novel? Is 200 pages the dividing line? 125? I haven’t found a hard and fast rule to go by — I’ve found a lot of notes on word count in novels and novellas, but I’m a reader, not a writer. Do you have any firm ideas on what distinguishes a novella from a novel?

 

  • Oh, the things a book lover will do for the sake of bookish satisfaction. I’m a big fan of Susanna Kearsley’s writing, and beside the glory of the stories themselves, I adore the covers of her books.

Well, now she has a new book coming out, Bellewether, and I knew I needed a copy. I preordered it ages ago (the book releases in August), then discovered that the US cover is… well… unappealing. But hey, the Canadian cover is gorgeous and goes with the rest of my books! So I cancelled my US preorder, and got a copy from Amazon Canada instead, which gave me the added bonus of getting the book early, since it released in Canada this month already. And really, which of these would YOU want?

Anyhoo… that’s what’s on my mind today. How about you? What deep bookish thought are bouncing about in your brain?

 

And seriously. What is up with audiobooks and the lack of afterwords and notes? Can someone please make them fix this? Annoyed now.

22 thoughts on “Bookish bits & bobs

  1. I LOVE the idea of this post (going through random bookish thoughts I mean!). I think audiobooks should definitely have author’s notes and historical notes in the back; and acknowledgements too. People can always skip over them if they want to!
    Also a novella page count – a novella is most often described as 49,999 words or below, so if we work on the fact that an average book page is 250 words, 49,999/250 = 199.9 pages, so I think you’re right in that ~200 pages length or less is a novella! 🙂

    • Thanks! I hadn’t really thought through converting word count to pages, but I can live with the “under 200” definition for a novella — although I’ve definitely read books in the 170 – 190 page range that I’d consider short novels. Not sure why — maybe to do with the depth and sense of reading a fully formed work?

  2. I think it depends on the audiobook – i’ve Listened to several with the author’s notes included; and even some that have an interview with the author – maybe a decision by the publisher?

    • That’s good to know — but then I think the audiobooks that don’t should at least alert their listeners that there’s additional material available in printed form. Or provide a PDF as a companion. I can’t understand why a publisher would feel that it’s better to leave something out for listeners, so perhaps it’s a production decision by the audiobook folks?

      • maybe – i’m not sure – you could try tweeting the author or publisher and asking them – i know sometimes audible books come with PDF companions (I rarely read them though)

  3. I’ve wondered the same thing about audiobooks! I don’t think I’ve ever heard acknowledgements on an audiobook until one I literally just finished today — Anne Bogel’s Reading People. BUT there are 10 full pages of Recommended Resources and Notes in the print edition that are not on the audio. I’m not even sure how a nonfiction book like that can be considered complete without those notes!

    Curious to see your further discussion on star ratings! I’ve always done them, but I regularly scratch my head trying decide how to rate what I read. I don’t know if I’m really all that consistent and am pretty sure I’m harsher (or not!) depending on the day and depending on what books I have side by side — it’s not necessarily fair to compare books against each other rather than consider them in their own right, but I know I do it!

    • Right — even though star ratings theoretically give more definition, I know I rate certain books by favorite authors pretty highly even though the book itself might not be as excellent as authors, simply because it includes favorite characters or worlds. I haven’t quite figured out a system that would work for how I think about the books I read, but I’m still working on it!

      Re audiobooks — I was particularly disappointed/surprised to learn that the Kopp Sisters books (which I loved) had additional material on the historical figures in the print versions. I really felt cheated!

  4. I have long felt the same about missing acknowledgments and authors’ notes in audiobooks. I always read and enjoy acknowledgements in books and scientific literature. I have heard them only rarely at the end. One audiobook I listened to (I’m wracking my brain to recall which one) even had a bonus “ending extension” announced as a treat for the listener who stayed all the way through the acknowledgements and audiobook credits. I suppose feedback to Hachette, Harper and other companies might help, or maybe posing the question to Audio File Magazine (https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/contact/) as a forum?

    I’m not a fan of the ratings system, Though if I had to pick I prefer the letter-grade system used by The Gilded Earlobe blog over using numbers. To me more is conveyed by A, A+ A- B etc. it’s a little more forgiving. I don’t miss them seeing on your blog though!

    On a different bookish topic, are you and your son aware of this fantastic summer program—26 free audiobooks (2/week) for teens (and anyone)? https://audiobooksync.com Or family has enjoyed the program for years. The 2018 program started this week.

    • A follow up on my comment about ratings to say that as a consistent reader/scanner of a LOT of book blogs (I’m not a blogger) really well-written book reviews are rare. Writing a good review that is clear, concise, and a pleasure to read is not a simple writing task, it’s hard and as a reader I appreciate the work of all book bloggers who take it on. Reviews that include a .gif every other sentence or that are poorly expressed benefit from a rating system. I read Bookshelf Fantasies for your consistent, well-written reviews; no rating symbols required to decipher your reaction to the book!

      • Oh, thank you so much! I really appreciate the kind words and support! I’m still puzzling over finding the right approach for me, something that feels natural in terms of how I think about the books I read. I’m with you on gifs — I can’t really read reviews that use them to make points. I know some people love them, but at least when it comes to book reviews, they’re so not for me.

    • Thank you for the info on the summer program! I’ll definitely check it out. I do like seeing the letter grades in some contexts (for example, Entertainment Weekly uses letter grades for all of their reviews — movies, TV, books), and it keeps things clear and simple.

      Re audiobooks — submitting the question is a great idea! Particularly for historical fiction, it feels like being cheated somehow to discover that there could have been more information provided if only I’d picked up a print version instead of listening to the audio. Listeners who aren’t interested can always skip the afterwords, just like a printed book reader can choose to shut the covers.

  5. I’ve seen some odd things called novellas recently, like books that are 250 pages+. That’s not a novella! I don’t care if the author usually writes 700 page books. 250 is a full book!!!

    Also, Amazon does have great customer service. I think they’re horrible as a company in terms of taking losses on their stock in order to drive competitors out of business and get a monopoly on the market–but they have great customer service.

    • Ha, 250 pages is NOT a novella… at least, not as far as I’m concerned. I have very mixed feelings about Amazon. On the one hand, they’re definitely bad for small, local businesses — but on the other hand, I definitely get all my ebooks from them, and lots of other things too.

      • I mean, yeah, I have a KIndle because I thought it was better than the Nook and predicted *years* ago when I bought the thing that B&N would eventually discontinue the Nook. And I was right. In many ways, Amazon deserves their success, even as they’ve been awful for the book publishing industry and bookstores as a whole.

  6. Very good article, and relatable to the bone. For your rating dilema, I may suggest an option: instead of rating 1-5 the overall book, e.g. don’t you rate different aspects? For example, velocity of the plot (it goes to the point too quickly or gets lost on pages and pages of botedom), originality, how well-written it is, how well developed are the characters, relevance of side-stories to the main one, or accordance to the historic period.

    • Good suggestions! I tend to do more of a free-floating narrative of what I think, since for some books I have more to say, others less. I guess it depends on what stood out for me in any given book. Still working through how (or if) I might want to make changes!

  7. You would think that everything would be there in the audio book version… I don’t listen to audio books so I had no idea this was a thing!
    I don’t do the star (or any other type) of rating on my blog, like you I do it on Goodreads because I feel it’s kinda required, but otherwise I feel like my review should say all that I’m thinking.
    Oh haha, that’s interesting about the cover, it’s interesting why covers change region to region. I’m glad you got one that matches al the others. They are beautiful covers! 🙂

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