I’m listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Talking to Strangers and it’s a whole new experience in audiobooks. Instead of one narrator reading the verbatim copy from the print version, Gladwell produced this book more like a podcast: it has music, interludes, and audio clips from the source giving the quote instead of another reading it. It’s definitely not your grandmother’s book-on-tape!
I think a parallel example is if a book on Kindle came complete with videos, animations and hyperlinks. I know this occurs already with “e-features” in online versions of magazines and I imagine that books aren’t far behind.
All of this rich media serves to enhance the content and, in my opinion, also serves to diminish the imagination. I rely on books to take me to new lands – in my head. I don’t need literal pictures or audio to create characters if the author is competent in their craft.
It’s often said that movies aren’t as good as the book – in large measure because our own interpretation is different from what the director’s was. Let’s leave it that way by leaving it open for us to craft whole worlds in our imagination instead of being spoon-fed what was in someone else’s head.