|image from: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/breakthrough-capitalism-top-50-books|
For me, audiobooks take the pressure off the author. If the story isn't that great or the characters are not that developed, the narrator can do a lot of work to help change that, infuse the story with a humorous undertone and change the character accents so that they come to life. When the writing is awkward, if the narrator says the sentence in a specific way, I might not notice it as much. Or given my short attention span, I forget about the few sentences that might sound strange because there are five to ten hours worth of words to hear. The flip side of this is that sometimes the narrator can make a sentence that's not awkward sound awkward, but I imagine the director of the audiobook would try his/her hardest to correct those slight errors. Even dry scientific writing styles can feel a lot more alive with an audiobook and its narrator. But audiobooks must also cost a lot of money to produce because there's only a few with them, and they're generally the bigger or more emphasized titles from publishers.
In an ebook, since I've still got the "highlights" section turned on, I'm expecting a book to have a lot of good quotes and scenes to bookmark. I'm more conscious of the novel's "quotability" versus its generic feel and tone. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty dog-earing my books because I know other people hate that and I generally lend my books quite a bit or donate them when I'm finished, which is obviously not the case with ebooks. Ebooks are the perfect format to have if I ever want to revisit an author's writing. As a writer, I like to sometimes look at books as "textbooks;" I want to learn from them and ebooks, with all their highlighted glory, show me too what people absolutely love in a novel. This also awakens the fangirl in me and makes reading the book seem less isolated, like I'm with all these other readers who've loved this line in this book because it reflects X and X about the characters. Ebooks are a perfect tool for learning from and revisiting a novel, looking at its general feel and whether it's worth buying the book in print too, and fangirling with other readers around the world (if your highlights section is still on).
Print books make me feel more conscious of the pacing. I'm really intimidated by large books. If I'm not in the proper mood to read those, well, they'll just sit on the shelf then because it's hard convincing myself to "slug" through those books. If you have to turn all those pages and feel the weight of the book in your hand, it's a lot easier to notice when the authors pauses to meander on some philosophical musing. Print books, like audiobooks, also remind me of how much the publisher has spent on this novel. If there's a crappy cover, it feels as if the title has been pushed to the side. If there's a cover that has symbolic resonance in the novel, I know that someone else has read the book and they've discussed how best to market the novel to a specific audience. Knowing this is also a factor that I think plays in my subconscious experience of the novel because if the publisher is excited about the novel, I probably will be too. It's not just the cover either, but also the font selection, the color, the chapter heading, the general layout. I know a few of my friends dislike some young adult novels because the spacing between sentences is too large and the book then feels younger. In some ways, I think the ebook is the place where the author can shine most; the print most dependent on the publisher's pushing and the audiobook dependent on the narrator you get.
Do you ever notice your expectations or standards changing across book formats? Which format do you prefer to read and why?