3.11.13

Print, E- or Audio Mysteries, What’s Best?

Mysteries can be read or listened to in a variety of formats, each of which shapes the reading experience. The array of formats that are available to us today allows for greater flexibility and personalization of reading. Hardcover, paperback, large print, e-book, audio CDs or digital audio format – which one should you choose?

As the oldest format, print has survived throughout the centuries because it has been proven to work. Those who prefer print often have a deep attachment to it. Because we are so familiar with the format, we find it easy to use. This familiarity facilitates concentration for many users. A number of readers also love a book’s texture and tangibility. Print books require no power source, are dependent on no technology that can fail, produce less eye strain than LCD screens, include no cords that need plugging in, require no charging or electricity, and can be read indoors and out.

Readers can easily flip back and forth between sections of a print book, and can quickly return to an earlier point in the novel – a big plus for mystery novel fans who are often introduced to a large pool of suspects in the opening chapters.

E-books have other advantages. They are weightless and portable. E-books do not take up room on bookshelves, a decided advantage for voracious mystery novel readers. If you borrow rather than buy your detective novels, you need to visit a library to both retrieve and return your books.

Do you bring too many books with you when you travel “just in case”? Travelers have limited room when packing. Bringing an e-reader with a number of preloaded library books is a definite advantage. Moreover, you can borrow e-books from any location, even while on vacation in or out of the country.

Being able to customize the size and type of font is another distinct benefit. E-books can be read on readers, tablets, computers, and phones. E-readers, unlike tablets or computers, use e-ink technology which reduces eyestrain and allows you to read outdoors in bright sunlight.

Project Gutenberg, Gutenberg Australia’s “Crime, Detection, Mystery, and Thrillers Books”, and Kindle Books are three of the best sites for free public-domain mystery novels. Also check out your local library website for recent editions of mystery novels that you can borrow through Overdrive.

If you haven’t tried listening to a mystery novel on your portable device or car sound system, you are missing a rich experience. Skilled narrators bring a book to life in a way that print or e-books cannot. One of the joys of mystery novels is immersing yourself in the atmosphere of the book. Listening to detective books such as Louise Penny’s (French-Canadian) Gamache novels or Ian Rankin’s (Irish) Rebus novels brings the culture alive.

Audio books also extend reading time by allowing users to listen to a book while driving, walking, or performing routine choirs. To download free public-domain mysteries, visit LibriVox.

The disadvantage of audio books is the cumbersome process of returning to an earlier part of a book to reacquaint themselves with a character or plot detail they have forgotten.

Which format is best? It really depends on your preferences and circumstances. In some instances you might want an audio book and in others an e-book or print edition. When I am driving I love an audio CD, while walking a digital audio book, when on vacation an e-book, and when reading at home, a print edition.