Abridged vs. Unabridged

Have you ever been browsing our library and wondered, “Why is the exact same book – same author, same narrator, same publisher, and same cover art – available twice?” Usually if you look a little closer, you’ll notice that they actually have different lengths. One will be the full-length version, while the other will be shortened, or “abridged”.

For all the benefits audiobooks provide, there is one trade-off: we read with our eyes faster than anyone can read to us with their voice. Some may feel like a novel is taking a while when it otherwise wouldn’t. To abate this, many publishers will offer an abridged version of the audiobook, where the story line remains intact but certain sections are cut to shave a few hours off the recording. The majority of our listeners opt for the full version but others feel that an abridged audiobook is easier to handle. This is especially the case with lengthy classics, which were written back when our patience and attention span were a little longer.

There are certainly pros and cons, and I’m often guilty of finding myself in the middle of a classic waiting for the plot to progress. However, I still prefer the unabridged version; if I’m going to enjoy an author’s work, I want to listen to the whole production!

Plus, with Audiobooks.com’s variable speed narration tool, it’s easy to change your listening from 1.0 to 1.25, 1.5 or even 1.75 times normal speed. To access this feature, tap the “1x” text at the bottom left corner of the audio player screen in the app.

Are you an abridged or unabridged listener? Tell us your thoughts!

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7 thoughts on “Abridged vs. Unabridged

  1. I’ve heard that in the UK, there are a lot of abridged and adaptations when it comes to audio books; but in the US, it’s the unabridged that appeals. Personally, I will only listen to unabridged. If there is no unabridged edition available or, if I don’t like the narrator for an unabridged title, I switch to print.

  2. I accidently listed to an abridged The Passage because the library CDs were not labeled, and I didn’t realize it was supposed to be 37 hours. At first I was upset because I wanted to hear the whole story, but now I’m happy that I got the main story without the unimportant excess bits.

    I recently listened to the 47 hour 1Q84 and would happily recommend 20 hours that could be cut from that one.

  3. I only listen to unabridged. I want to listen to the entire story not a watered down version.

  4. Unabridged, definitely! Our library system doesn’t even bother to order or catalog abridged audio. We find that our patron’s want the whole book…word for word.

  5. The only time I will listen to an abridged audiobook is if it is part of a series and the only version available is the abridged.

    The only other possibility that I could think of in choosing an abridged version is if I am a huge fan of the narrator of the abridged version and dislike the narrator of the unabridged recording.

  6. I’m glad to hear that someone agrees with me! How long are the audio books that you typically listen to?

  7. I only buy unabridged audiobooks. I typically try to find long ones, as well. I often listen to chapters twice to get the details. I once read that listening to books is processed by the same parts of your brain as reading, and I feel that an abridged version is an illegitimate substitute, like Spark Notes!