Audio book inside the audio book

I’m an Audible user. Actually, I’m a power user, but my obsession with Audible badges is another story.

Still, no matter how much you use audio books, there’s always something new. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore is one of those books that references a fictional work of fiction — in other words a book within a book. But there’s a twist on that concept, and the twist is an audiobook version of that book within a book.

If you’re listening to the audio version of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, that’s where things get interesting, because you get to hear the audio book within the audio book.

Pretty meta, right?

The thing is, the execution feels a little clunky. Rather than the narrator throwing a slightly different voice or tone, it sounds as if a different recording is literally inserted into the audio book.

Sort of like a block quote inside a blog post.

The tonal shift is jarring, but thankfully it doesn’t go on for very long. If it did, it might ruin the audio version of the book.

Why?

When you read a book, it’s just you and the author. In some ways, books are about as close as you can get to the artist, compared to other mediums like film and music.

When you listen to an audio version, the narrator inserts another layer of distance. For me, the more an audio book becomes a performance — throwing voices, multiple narrators, and the addition of sound effects or music — the more space is created between you and the author.

Naturally, I prefer a minimalist approach to narration.

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