Answering Rose George's Audiobook Question

Why I waited until 2017 to read her amazing 2014 ‘Ninety Percent of Everything’.

August 22, 2017

If Rose George asks you a question then you should do your best to answer.  Yesterday, George asked me a question about audiobooks.  This post is my answer.

George’s question (via Twitter) was a response to a review that I wrote of her wonderful 2014 Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate. 

In my review of the book, I mentioned that I’d been wanting to read her book since 2014 - as her earlier book The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters is one of my all time favorites - but that I had waited to read her latest book until the audiobook version became available this June.

In answering George, I have this fantasy that she will decide to write a book about how books and reading are changing.  That she will get inspired to call attention to the balance of costs and benefits of Amazon’s digital book monopoly.  That George will investigate the increasing importance of libraries (both public and academic) in our ever-more stratified economy, the comeback of small independently owned bookstores, and the stubborn subculture of misfits who prefer books over blog post and tweets.

The reason that I waited until the 2017 audiobook of Ninety Percent of Everything to read the 2014 book is that audiobooks are creators of time.

An audiobook allows me to read while doing other things.  Since most of my life is about doing other things, then the only real opportunity that I have to read books is if I can listen to them with my ears while doing something else with my eyes, hands, and feet.

How much of your day is spent doing something where you could also be reading?  Do you commute, clean, cut, chop, or cook?  If so, an audiobook can be your companion.

Rose George could write a book about how technology is changing the act of marketing and consuming books - with an emphasis on both the good and the bad of this story.  Digital books, both e-books and audiobooks, open up new possibilities for writers and readers.  Books are cheaper to distribute and easier to consume than at any point in history.   

At the same time, books must compete with other digital content that is delivered and consumed on the same platform.  I read (well listened to) Ninety Percent of Everything on my iPhone, the same device that brings me news and e-mail and videos and games and social media.   

There is a story about how the medium in which we discover and consume books impacts which books are written and read.  What that story might be none of us are quite sure.  Rose George would be the perfect writer to untangle these threads.

How great is it when one of your favorite authors reaches out to you directly?

How would you explain to Rose George why you will likely not read a book unless there is an audiobook version?


Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.


Back to Top