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Abridged vs Unabridged AudioBooks [2020]


Do you have a preference for choosing an abridged or unabridged book or you are a person who doesn’t fully understand the differences? In this article, I am going to explain the differences which will make the decision-making the process clearer. We are going to discuss abridged and unabridged books as a format which is commonly applied to audio books.


Abridged vs Unabridged AudioBooks?

So what is the difference between an unabridged and an abridged book?

An unabridged book has the original content; it is not condensed or shortened in any way and is exactly as it was when originally published. It is a true representation of how the author wrote the story.

An abridged Audiobook is a shortened version of the audiobook, it is condensed by using fewer words, but still retains a sense of the original book.

Some folks are very decisive about which format is best for them; many purists insist on reading the unabridged version regardless of anything else, they feel they are missing out if they read the abridged version.

Others will choose the abridged version because they see certain advantages because the book has been suitably altered.

It is common for an audio book to be made available both an abridged and unabridged versions but usually the abridged is published first and costs much less. It is not unusual for each version to be released independently of each other.


Abridged vs Unabridged Summary

In summary:

1. Unabridged books are more complete (longer) in content compared to the abridged books having simpler (shorter) content.

2. Unabridged books are best for the recreational type of readers while the abridged books are best for students.

3. Unabridged books practically cost more than abridged books.

4. Unabridged books are generally more boring than abridged versions because of their lengthy nature.

5. Unabridged books are learned longer because it requires more time to finish compared to abridged versions.


Abridged vs Unabridged AudioBooks Examples?

Examples of Abridged Vs unabridged Audiobooks
Examples of Abridged Vs unabridged Audiobooks

So what is an unabridged book, let’s consider the purist explanation to begin with. So that there is no confusion I will quote an excerpt from Wikipedia which reads as follows:

Quote: An abridgment is a condensing or reduction of a book or other creative work into a shorter form while maintaining the unity of the source. The abridgement can be true to the original work in terms of mood and tone, capturing the parts the abridging author perceives to be most important; it could be a complete parody of the original; or it could fall anywhere in-between, either generally capturing the tone and message of the original author but falling short in some way, or subtly twisting his words and message to favor a different interpretation or agenda “Unquote.

It needs to be made clear that an abridged book has been altered or shortened for a variety of reasons. What has been altered is not formally declared by the publisher leaving the prospective reader wondering what was omitted and why?

Try Free UnAbridged AudioBooks at Audible

Try Free Abridged AudioBooks at Audible


What Kind of Books are Available as Abridged?

Many book categories offer an abridged version; novels, audiobooks, and even reference books, sometimes the intention is to make it more marketable by making the book shorter by cutting all but the most important information, in doing so they will often be easier to understand. TV broadcasts and movies are often cut for the same reasons. 

Stephen King has said that if a sentence that doesn’t carry the story forward, drop it. But how many authors write in accordance with that rule? It might be argued that many writings have a lot of fluff and unnecessary words and fillers that do not really add anything the crux of the story and should be edited out. A purist would argue that is not acceptable and that only the author should make that determination.

Purists might also argue that an abridged version of any of the classics would be akin to sacrilege.

All that said, not all readers are purists and they are happy to accept what they see as benefits, particularly in relation to the cost of the book.


How Is an Abridged Book Edited?

Generally, an editor will decide which narratives, references, elements, notations, and paragraphs or anything that could be could be considered superfluous can be removed without affecting the story.

As an example; In the case of a fiction book, in an instance where a story element reads ” Steve met an old friend for coffee, John was an old friend who he had known since childhood from when they both lived in the USA.” to “Steve met John, an old childhood friend for coffee”


Common Reasons for Editing an AudioBook

So what kind of edits are made to an abridged book and why?

  1. Too long, in the case of audiobooks, some exceed 40 hours, production costs for an unabridged audiobook are much higher.(Tip: Compare the two formats for listening times.)
  2. Often edited to suit a reader who is happy just to follow the general story which is told in an entertaining style but without the need for lots of time?

Advantages and Disadvantages for Abridged Audiobooks

  • Often a cheaper alternative
    Story may be distorted when compared to original
  • Maybe more enjoyable as the story can be shorted yet still keep the original flow, tone, and intent of the original story and is faster and easier reading.
  • The common attributes of an abridged book often make it more accessible to a wider audience.
  • Hard copy books can also be abridged, most commonly in textbooks

Advantages and Disadvantages for Unabridged Audiobooks

  • An unabridged book is true to the original book, unaltered in any way. You are listening to the book the way the author meant for it to be listened to.
  • You have the time to invest to listen to a full, unabridged book and don’t get bored easily by the same story going on for days, or weeks, at a time.
  • You read the book already but would like to listen to it this time.

Abridged vs Unabridged Summary

  • Abridgment is very common in all forms of mainstream media: TV, Film, Podcasts
  • Almost all category’s of media are included, fiction, non-fiction, documentaries, biographies and many more. It’s a technique that has many advantages and in many cases needs to be done because of the many limitations and time constraints of modern media and it means that no other option exists.
  • Books however most often do allow an option for the reader to choose.

Try Abridged vs Unabridged Audiobooks at Audible

Try Free Abridged AudioBooks at Audible

Try Free UnAbridged AudioBooks at Audible




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