Audiobooks discussion

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message 1: by Grumpus, Hearing aide (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:52AM) (new)

Grumpus | 475 comments What got me started on the idea for this group was this story in the NY Times:


Personally, I'm a big audio listener while commuting, shopping, cutting the grass, etc but I also read. So I don't think of audio as not reading. Its about imparting the words to your brain in my opinion...whether your read them or listen to them. As a big non-fiction reader, it also helps to get the correct pronunciation of technical and/or foreign words. Its also another avenue for me to read another book or two per month.

What do you think?

message 2: by Randy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:52AM) (new)

Randy | 4 comments I have been a huge audiobook fan for nearly 10 years now. It's not that I don't enjoy reading books, but a busy career, MBA evening school, and young kids have pretty much forced my "reading" time to audiobooks during my commute.

I still read the occasional hard book, though I've yet to get past about page 100 of The Histories.

While I do very much enjoy reading books, I get a similar enjoyment from listening to books also.

message 3: by Sophia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:52AM) (new)

Sophia | 1 comments I am so addicted to audiobooks. I subscribe to and download books directly into my iPOD. Whenever I have an unpleasant chore driving , folding laundry, etc. I am immediately cheered up by the thought of being able to "read" while dealing with the drive or chore. I have 4 children and find very little time to actually sit and read. I still love the feel of a book in my hands and do read when time allows but being read to is a wonderful luxury.It keeps my mind happy during mindless activities. I also enjoy the accents of the readers....the English accents of the reader of PD James novels, the Australian accent of the narrator of "The Potato Factory" or the rough,old man intonation of the main character in the novel "Water for Elephants". The voices of the narrators often greatly enhance the overall experience for me.

message 4: by Grumpus, Hearing aide (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:52AM) (new)

Grumpus | 475 comments I agree with both Randy and Sophia…I am addicted to audio books and enjoy the opportunity to learn something over the mindless blather on the radio during my commute. I read non-fiction about 90% of the time.

I too, am an [] subscriber and love the ease of downloading the books on to my MP3 player...and who can beat the price? I believe with their monthly program, you can get just about any book for $14.95 per month...and its yours forever.

If you look at my shelves, I have one entitled “audiblecom” to distinguish books I’ve listened to versus read and then I preface any review with the following, “This is based upon the audio download from”. In addition to giving credit to Audible (which I hope others will find equally valuable), it distinguishes my reviews between the “hard copy” and audio. I would estimate that through I am able to read an additional two books per month.

What other sources/companies are others using for their audio book fix?

message 5: by Randy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:53AM) (new)

Randy | 4 comments I joined audible when they first started - I was on a plan of (2) audio books a month for around $12.95 - it was a heck of a deal. Ultimately the convenience of gave way to the quality issue. In my opinion the audio quality of is seriously lacking. I tend to get cd audiobooks from the library and M4B'ize them for my iPod. There are more and more web repositories with free audiobooks also, search around and you'll find them.

message 6: by Grumpus, Hearing aide (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:54AM) (new)

Grumpus | 475 comments Hey, I just noticed (okay, I'm a little slow) that our group got a plug from Otis. This may be the way that some of you came to this group but for those who did not see his blog - [], be sure to check it out and also follow his link to the Jeff Gomez site as there are great comments about this issue.

message 7: by Leslie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:55AM) (new)

Leslie (alabamagrrl) | 6 comments Yes, I think listening counts as reading and is sometimes better than reading a hardcover, especially when the audiobook has an excellent narrator or the author reads his or her own work.

I mostly listen to fiction audiobooks in the car. Since I mostly read nonfiction, audiobooks are a good way for me to keep up with fiction.

message 8: by Grumpus, Hearing aide (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:00PM) (new)

Grumpus | 475 comments Here's another article on topic...mostly a rewording the original NY Times article but still interesting.


I still don't understand the stigma. I use audio books to supplement my reading at those times when reading is impossible (i.e. commuting) and can therefore, double the number of books I read.

As for those who say it violates some printed code, one could make the arguement that the printed code violates the oral traditions that predated the written word.

Bottom-line: As long as the knowledge is imparted, to each his own.

message 9: by Neuromanced (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:01PM) (new)

Neuromanced | 6 comments My bottom-line is similar: It counts as reading if I'm paying attention!

message 10: by cheri (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

cheri madden | 4 comments tremendous point, Grumpus. I think you are absolutely right. We are so busy in today's society, and audio allows us to fill in the gaps between the written words, so to speak.

message 11: by Christina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Christina Getrost (goldiebug) I'm in agreement with everyone above. I'm a librarian who needs to keep up with teen literature in particular, and other books in general, but who can't just "sit at the desk and read" as the stereotype would have you believe. :-) So in addition to all of my print reading I listen to books on CD (or the new cool format, Playaways!) in the car, or when doing chores such as feeding horses in the barn. It doubles the number of books I can get read in a week. And I love listening to them, especially when really good actors narrate, because the emotional content seems to be ratcheted up (we're talking fiction here); I get really invested in a story when it's told to me, somehow, moreso than even when reading it. So that's my .02

message 12: by Diana (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Diana | 3 comments Wow, Randy - I'm surprised you had quality problems with your recordings. I've been a subscriber for several years and I have always found them to be great sounding!

As for the poster who asked where else people got their audiobooks, a library near me offers many, many audiobooks in their digital library. They are supplied by a service called Overdrive, and you can download the books and put them on an mp3 player (thought not an ipod) or in many cases you have the right to burn a copy to CDs for personal use. Check and see if your library offers this service - you REALLY can't beat the price!

message 13: by Diana (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Diana | 3 comments Another note, on the "validity" of listening to versus reading a book: I was listening to an Orson Scott Card audiobook recently (I think it was Ender's Shadow) and there was an author's afterword in which he stated that he thought listening to an audiobook was the _best possible_ option for experiencing his books!

message 14: by Holly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Holly Booms Walsh (withherownwings) | 165 comments I definitely think that listening to an audiobook counts as reading the book! I tend to remember the books in more detail when I listened to the audio version than when I've read then in hard copy.

Two things I have noticed however:

1. a narrator that you do not like very much will make you stop paying attention and thus "waste" a book that you might have really liked in print


2. some books are better with the illustrations. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, America by John Stewart, etc. Sometimes the books aren't the ones you'd expect.

Nothing will ever quite take the place of curling up on the couch with a book for me, but I love that I can be busy cooking, cleaning, or driving and still be immersed in a book.

message 15: by Khover (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Khover | 1 comments I also feel that listening to an audiobook counts as having read it.

In the instance of extremely dry books or extremely difficult books, audiobooks have saved my rear more than a few times. For example, I had to read "The Sound and the Fury" for a college lit class and the audiobook opened a new dimension of clarity for me.

Grumpus--Your comment about reading supplementation is right on. Clearly none of us have given up on the printed word. :P

Christina--Playaways rock!

message 16: by Neuromanced (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:03PM) (new)

Neuromanced | 6 comments Grumpus, have you checked out as a source of free audiobooks? I volunteer for them. They only record public domain books, and it's completely free and all run by volunteers. Quality of recording really varies (no one gets paid, and their goal is to record everything in the public domain, so they don't turn any readers away), but I have found several readers I like listening to there.

message 17: by Grumpus, Hearing aide (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:03PM) (new)

Grumpus | 475 comments Neuromanced,

Yes, I have heard of Librivox...I just came across them this month. I posted here about them but it is topic six of the subjects in our group so it has fallen off the visible have to click view all in the topics to see it. Or here is the link:


It was featured on NPR awhile ago.

message 18: by Susan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:03PM) (new)

Susan (susieq69) | 14 comments Leslie, I completely agree with you about the book having an excellent narrator. That's gotten me to read books I otherwise wouldn't have considered. After having read, and thoroughly enjoyed (to my surprise) Lonesome Dove, I heard that Brad Pitt reads Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy (abridged). I'm not generally a fan of westerns or abridgements, but I really enjoyed those stories and listened to the entire trilogy.

And I must mention William Shatner here. If you are a Star Trek fan, and perhaps even if not, you must listen to his abridged recordings of his ST trilogies. Not only are they great simply because it's Shatner reading them, but there are Sound Effects!! I nearly mentioned Shatner in the Levity thread just because they really are that much fun!

One more point to add is that I am now a bit leary when I see an author (other than Shatner) reads his/her own works. I had a very bad experience with a teen book. The story and series seemed like something I would really enjoy, but the author, who was reading it, drove me so crazy that I truly struggled to finish the story. I mean, I was actually quite angry because of her reading and how much I hated it. Plus with so very many books out there that I already really want to read and listen to, I've put her series at the absolute bottom of my list.

message 19: by Patrick (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:03PM) (new)

Patrick | 3 comments I will be the dissenting view here, although I love audiobooks and find great joy in listening to them when I'm driving. I find that often the narrator's inflection or emphasis on a specific passage will draw my attention to a particular idea that I would have missed completely if I had "read" the book. You just can't beat a good narrator reading a well written book when you're on a long drive. It sure beats the Jim Rome show.

That said, I often like to go back through the hard copy of the book and skim through those areas that I was particularly interested in during the listening, usually because I want to see the footnotes or citations the author made when he or she made a certain statement. I should note that I primarily read heavy duty non-fiction for fun - especially history and biography, so I am intrigued by where authors get their ideas for interpreting specific events and I usually want to do personal research to find out more.

When I am listening to an audio book while driving or exercising, I find that I enjoy it as interesting background noise, but that I'm also mentally engaged in other activties, so I can't quite fully focus on the work as I can when I'm "reading." So, for me only, I consider myself to have "completed" a book only after I have gone through it and thoroughly extracted what I want from it - sometimes with highlighting and notetaking. (so, I usually have hard copies of the books I've listened to. Logistics of this: I check out audiobooks from our libraries all the time, and if I like the book I can usually find it in hard copy for under $1-$5 at a library sale, used book store, or on an Amazon associate. My challenges are book storage and overdue dates at the library.)

But that's the satndards I set for myself. As for anyone else, if you listened to it all the way through, you read it, as far as I'm concerned - with one other exception. I am NOT a literature lover, but I endured it in high school. I just don't think that you will get the full impact of certain books unless you actually "read" it and expose yourself to the language in that manner. Tolstoy's books come to mind, as do Dickens and Melville. If you just listen to those books passivley, you might miss some of the great language that makes them classics, and then you might do poorly on your book report if that's what your assignment. So, if you're in a literature class, audiobooks don't count.

That said, if you don't have a report due, and if it comes down to never exposing yourself to Shakespeare or Melville or Dostoevsky unless you listen to the audiobook, then yes, listen to the book. And maybe you'll dig it so much you'll be inspired to read it.

Attacks on this point of view are expected and welcomed. I've got tough skin from hanging out in Books I Loathed. (Note to the wise: don't slam Steinbeck over there.)

message 20: by Leslie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:03PM) (new)

Leslie (alabamagrrl) | 6 comments Yes, I just finished listening to a book narrated by Campbell Scott. He's gorgeous and has an excellent reading voice.

message 21: by Jacob (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:03PM) (new)

Jacob (jagatfx) It's, not .com for all those searching. What a great idea!

message 22: by Neuromanced (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:04PM) (new)

Neuromanced | 6 comments Thanks, Jake. I fixed it!

message 23: by Beth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Beth (bibliocat4) I work at a library and listening counts toward kids summer reading program minutes. It would be ignoring how many people learn best by not including this portion. My brother was not a reader while growing up, partly because of adhd, and now he listens to books all the time which I think is just wonderful. I enjoy listening to books in the car and audio books have kept my kids busy on long drives.

Addionally, the ALA will be including audio books in their awards next year with an Odyssey Award for Excellance in Audiobook Production:

message 24: by Don (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:13PM) (new)

Don LaVange (wickenden) | 1 comments The notion of "counting" is, of course, problematic. Counting according to whom? However, I would offer one way that I find audio books less interesting. Language and literacy is strengthened by reading in a way that conversation or listening to a book is not -- I refer to the comprehension afforded by seeing words spelled. I work with a bright young man from Afghanistan who has learned languages like English and Hindi (in addition to his mastery of pashtun, dari and uzbeki) from films. But reading presents a much more dynamic and insightful window into the language, and we encourage him to read as it helps him to see what people are actually saying.

In working with freshman college composition students, a friend of mine showed how students who read a lot (even pulp) had a much better notion of not just orthography, but usage, because of the way seeing the words in play makes them more than just sounds. Students who wrote sentences like "he takes me for granite" have most likely never (or seldom) actually read the words "takes me for granted". It's humorous (not in a condescending way) to hear the folklore etymologies of these language problems (thinking that "taking for granite" was correct because one is being treated like a stone...).

Anyway, a good question, and my little caveat is only good for what it is good for -- I say do what you will, enjoy the literature any way you like.

message 25: by Grumpus, Hearing aide (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:14PM) (new)

Grumpus | 475 comments Yet another article on topic...this time from a Canadian perspective.


message 26: by Michelle (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:22PM) (new)

Michelle | 1 comments Some of my friends make fun of me for "listening" to books. I was personally not good at finding the time to actually read a lot. Since I've started listening to books I've experienced so much. I was missing a lot before and now my life is enriched because of audiobooks.

message 27: by Jill (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:22PM) (new)

Jill I read that NYT article and was so frustrated that the bookgroup members accused people of "cheating!!"

I haven't visited my local library in 7 years because the last time I did, I took out an audio.

The librarian said "I find it funny that people think listening to audiobooks is the same as reading." and then after I stared at him for a bit, he said, "Well, have fun reading."

And so, I am among the persecuted.

message 28: by Leslie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:22PM) (new)

Leslie (alabamagrrl) | 6 comments As a librarian, the librarian who chastised you was out of line. And, he was probably not a librarian but a clerk. I urge you to go back to your library, because THIS librarian thinks audio books are just dandy. And, I always like it when patrons tell me what audio books they like to read, because that helps me to know what to order on my limited budget.

message 29: by Jill (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:23PM) (new)

Jill Thank you Leslie! I was so discouraged and embarassed, and probably should have just brushed off the comment. You always want to believe that people who work in jobs like a library or a school, or a bookstore would have an appreciation for all forms of discourse, but at times you have to remember that some people are just jerks!

I'm proud to say that I'm back at the library after years and years, and really enjoy the new innovations that have come about due to technology (I love searching the catalogs from my home computer and then just run in and grab what I need)! And while I have a bit of an obsession with buying books & audios, there's still something precious about the library.

message 30: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:25PM) (new)

Laura | 2 comments I'm fascinated by how much controversy there seems to be on this topic. Being fairly new to the audio book world, I guess I've "missed out" on the debate. I didn't even distinguish which books I listed on here were audio, until I felt the need to comment on the narrator in a review. I mostly listen to my books at work, where I have a job that only takes a small percentage of my attention. So I don't generally listen to anything complex (aka non-fiction), as it's likely that I'll miss a bit here and there. But there was a post earlier about reading classical literature, and how it it should still be read. I'm not sure I agree. Then there was a mention of Shakespeare. As "intellectual" as I like to think I am :) I've never been able to read/understand Shakespeare. And to be fair, these were originally plays, after all. They were written to be spoken and acted. Especially for non-contemporary writing, I think listening can be very valuable, as you might be able to understand things better when someone else's voice is helping to explain them. Actually, the very first audio book I read, several years ago, was the Hobbit. My husband is a huge Tolkien fan, but I just could not get past the first few pages of any of his books. I just could not follow what was going on. But listening to it made it come alive for me. I could follow with different voices, the inflection helped when I didn't understand the words, etc. So without audio books, I wouldn't have any idea where the ring came from! I have not listened to the trilogy, though I plan to some day, as that is the only way it will be accessible to me (as a book anyway, I've seen the movies, and that IS cheating).

message 31: by Stef (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:26PM) (new)

Stef (firecat) | 43 comments My dad read Lord of the Rings to me when I was a kid. Although I was old enough to read The Hobbit on my own, I definitely wasn't old enough to understand the trilogy. I know other people who tried to read Lord of the Rings when they were too young, and as a result they never cared for it. I'm so glad my first introduction to it was having it read to me. I have read it myself many times since then. There are a number of other works I like in both narrated and written form. (Including Shakespeare.)

message 32: by Johnsergeant (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:26PM) (new)

Johnsergeant | 36 comments Laura:

I wholeheartedly agree with you. Coincidentally the Hobbit was also the audiobook (downloaded from which got me started on a serious audiobook listening habit. I purchased that in July 2000. We listened to it on a family vacation driving from NJ to Canada. We all (2 kids and 2 parents) thoroughly enjoyed it. I have been listening avidly to audiobooks ever since.

I must admit though that the Rings trilogy is still pretty hard going even on audiobook!

John Sergeant

message 33: by Chrystal714 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new)

Chrystal714 | 15 comments I just realized that I haven't marked any of my books as either Audio, or paper read because I don't want to be judged. Also it would be a pain in the butt to go through them all and remember if I read, or listened. Does it really make all that much of a difference anyway?

message 34: by Grumpus, Hearing aide (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:44PM) (new)

Grumpus | 475 comments Living comfortably behind a wall of sound

Funny article about living in an audio world without reading.


message 35: by Chrystal714 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:35PM) (new)

Chrystal714 | 15 comments Ok I did it. I made an Audio Books shelve. I do have this fear though that now people on good reads judge me as non-literary because most of my books are audio. Supose I need to get over that. People probably judge me as non-literary more because my choices in books then how I got the story's into my brain.

message 36: by Grumpus, Hearing aide (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:36PM) (new)

Grumpus | 475 comments Yay, thank you Chrystal714! I've been hoping more folks would put an "audiobook" shelf up. I have a thread here discussing it.

Currently folks are either not identifying their audiobooks or shelving them a million different ways. My hope was to get everyone in this group to standardize to the "audiobook" moniker. As I think it valuable to go to the "Top shelves" function:

and search for "audiobook" so that we can see which are most popular for potential good listens.

Thanks for doing this. It will benefit us all.


message 37: by John, Moderator (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:36PM) (new)

John | 3594 comments Ya know ... I wonder if the same folks who say audiobooks "don't count" etc. would tell a visually impaired person they "don't 'really' read books"? Just a thought.
P.S. I have an audiobooks shelf, unsorted between "to-read" and "read" although most of the latter are reviewed.

message 38: by Stef (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:38PM) (new)

Stef (firecat) | 43 comments Chrystal714, anyone whose favorite books include Jane Eyre counts as literary to me. :)

message 39: by Chrystal714 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:38PM) (new)

Chrystal714 | 15 comments Have you ever read it? I don't even care for romances and that book just captivated me.

Thank you for the compliment.

message 40: by jody (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

jody | 2 comments Hi everyone, I'm new to the group and also fairly new to audiobooks. I rent them from Simplyaudiobooks. My local bookstore also has a rental program but carry mostly fiction (probably more popular). I haven't checked my library and I don't know why.

I read all day - e-mails, letters, reports, etc. At night I often continue to read magazines or the internet and more e-mails. I read my textbook assignments on the weekends.

Listening is a skill - not everyone can listen to audiobooks! It is another form of entertainment or education just like reading, watching tv, or listening to the radio. It is a matter of preference.

I was listing my audiobooks on my read shelf, but I've moved them to my new listened shelf. Funny, I had no shame in displaying those, but I always think twice about displaying books like My Nerdy Valentine or Undead and Unwed! hahaha

message 41: by Katie (last edited Apr 29, 2008 11:50AM) (new)

Katie | 4 comments New to the group also.

I sense the stigma and it irks me.

I think that listening to audiobooks is just another way to experience storytelling. It's not worse than reading, nor is it's just different. I think it is really problematic to privilege the written word only when, truthfully, storytelling began as an oral tradition. For me, audiobooks recapture some of old fashioned storytelling tradition.

As an avid reader and poet myself, I see the value in being an auditor to the written word. Someone pointed out that listening to a book sometimes gets them focused on an idea that they would otherwise have overlooked if they were reading the book...I'd argue that that is the case when rereading a book also. Each time we experience a story/poem, it is a different experience because of the context of experiencing that work and because of our own personal experience brought to that moment.

Perhaps this is only the case with poetry, but I find that listening to an author's voice helps me sometimes to understand the work better. I remember listening to Charles Bukowski read some of his poems on a recording once. He was plastered and kept stopping and restarting and skipping poems. He got frustrated. His voice was slow and lazy and a little snide...and I would venture to posit that this is the voice in the Bukowski poems that we experience on the page too. Listening to that drunken, broken, intelligent man read and suffer through his own work spoke (forgive the pun) volumes to me.

message 42: by Dacia (new)

Dacia | 59 comments The ONLY real problem I have with audio books is that narrators are not always perfect. Recently I began listening to "A Memory of Earth" by Orson Scott Card, read by Stefan Rodnicky (spelling?). I'm still listening to it, but I must say I'm dissappointed. I absolutely love this book (the whole series actually) almost to the point of worship. I was SO excited when audible finally came out with an audio version of it - but thus far I've been seriously dissappointed. I've noticed several times a point when the narrator actually misreads part of the story - either that or he's reading from a different manuscript than the one I have. They aren't BIG things, just saying one character's name instead of another, or reading a line of dialog in the wrong character's voice. OSC tends to do alot of dialog where it's just lines back and forth and you don't get alog of "he said" "She said" to help you out. In some places I've actually had to count or make pencil marks in my books to keep track of who was saying what. However, now that I've read the books a million times, I can tell when any little word is out of place.

Listening to this book has made me wonder, what other mistakes in books I've listened to, but haven't read, have there been? With a printed book you can misread things, but the print is always there to go back to. With an audio book, if the narrator misreads it - well then, it's lost!

On the other hand, audio can open up a world of stories that are simply too tedious to read in silence. Many of the classics that I could not get through in print, I've been able to enjoy (at least to an extent) in audio. Sometimes the "old language" is hard to make heads or tails of when written down, but vocal inflection makes it flow. The same is true of stories by authors that seem to make EXTREME use of detail. Descriptions of landscapes that are simply too tedious to read through are often less noticeable in the audio version. This is also true of some science fiction that has alot of "technical detail" in it. For instance, OSC's "adult" sequels to Ender's Game (Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind) were ok when read, but really came alive in audio.

I think both versions of story telling are art, and both should be valued for what they are. I personally find EITHER still better than watching most TV shows or movies (something that causes my family to look upon me as a freak with disgust).

message 43: by Melisande (new)

Melisande (melisandes) How audio books work your brain compared to say how TV works your brain. It is similar to a book not a video game in the way your creative and imagination is used. While it is not reading it develops the same part of the brain.

message 44: by S.G (last edited Oct 01, 2008 07:26PM) (new)

S.G | 39 comments Walk into any Barnes & Noble, look to your left or right, what does the first section you see feature today?

message 45: by Ancestral (new)

Ancestral Gaidheal (gaidheal) | 108 comments Grumpus wrote: "... As a big non-fiction reader, it also helps to get the correct pronunciation of technical and/or foreign words...."

I count my audio books as read; especially since some of them keep me thinking for days afterwards, they sink in just as well as those I read.

As to pronunciation, I have already encountered a few mispronunciations, e.g. in one book in particular the same Danish surname was pronounced five different ways by the same narrator, which was off-putting, so I am not comfortable relying on the narrator for guidance.

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