Where there is a new Japanese immersion source, I will go… Audible is Amazon’s audio book service. It started about 2 years ago in Japan, and it provides unlimited Japanese audio books for your listening pleasure. It took me a while to get around to check it out, because I couldn’t think why I would need it. I already had enough podcasts, video streaming services, and regular books to keep me busy. Why bother adding audio books to the mix?
I was an Amazon Japan Prime member, and after seeing enough ads telling me to try audible for free for 3 months, I gave in. Here are some of my impressions of it.
I became a shadow maniac starting last year, and Audible is the perfect companion. I mostly had been shadowing podcasts, but audible books are easier and more fun. They are longer, better voice-acted, and clearer. They also tend to expand your vocabulary more than a podcast, because general podcasts use a smaller range of vocabulary (due to being conversational).
You can choose the the speed of your audio. While I leave it at the standard 1x, you have the option to adjust it if you want to listen a little slower at .75x speed or pump up the pace at 1.25x, 1.5x., or 2x.
There are short samples of every audio book, giving you the ability to see how high level it is, whether you like the voice, and whether you think it would be good shadowing material.
Not all audible books are created equal
I’ve found that depending on the audio book, the experience can range from amazing to annoying.
I dislike books that:
● Leave massive pauses between one sentence and the next. It makes me feel like I have to constantly wait just to shadow the next sentence.
● Don’t adjust the book writing style to the appropriate way to read it. I was listening to a book on Japanese history, that made use of extensive parentheses. Every time there was a parenthesis (which would appear at least once a sentence), the voice actor would say 括弧 (かっこ). Enough to drive you crazy.
● Contained distracting sentence-enders that are repeatedly used. I was listening to one book where nearly every sentence ended with だよ！
I like books:
● Where it is an actual voice actor, and they enthusiastically voice out multiple characters in different patterns.
Because it’s still fairly new, the choices are limited. Maybe a few hundred books to look through. There are a lot of “non-books” included which makes searching slightly a chore. A lot of 20 minute lectures, podcast, series, and other things that weren’t actually audio books.
However, since the average book can range from 8-12 hours, you find one book and you are set for a while. It was also nice to be able to look forward to the weekly Audible Japan update, and see what new titles were added and try them out.
What to listen to
A few books I’ve listened/shadowed to and enjoyed:
1. リング (The Ring) – I didn’t know that the movie came from a book, and it’s quite different.
2. 気にしない練習 (Practice not worrying) – because you know…
3. ペンギン・ハイウェイ (Penguin Highway) – a lot of fun, and penguins.
4. 40翼ふたたび (40, Wings Again) – weird, but easy to relate to the main character.
The main sell on Audible seems to be the Harry Potter series. I read the series in Japanese many years ago, so I plan on checking out the audio series as well. Also, it looks like they just added the first Chronicles of Narnia audio book.
Yes. It’s shadowing at its best. Even if you have no interest in shadowing, it’s another great resource to get some good immersion in.
Have you tried Audible Japan before? Interested in trying it now?