Potter Month: 5 Harry Potter Audiobook Observations

The theme for 5 Fandom Friday this month is Harry Potter, and while there are no official prompts, we will be sharing posts all month long (and not just on Fridays) about the series by J.K. Rowling. If you missed it, make sure to check out Alice’s post with her Platform 9 3/4 Shop Wishlist!


In honor of Potter Month, I downloaded the first book of the Harry Potter series on Audible. It has been a while since I have re-read the books, and because I loaned the first three books to a friend, it was the best way to get in the spirit for this month.


#1 – Book vs. Audiobook

With a couple of exceptions (like The Hobbit and A Christmas Carol), I have never purchased an audiobook for a book I’ve already read. I have lots of books that I re-read, but I use audiobooks as a way to explore new stories in the otherwise wasted time of my commute.

I actually didn’t think anything of it when I first downloaded Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but after a few chapters I realized that I much preferred reading the Harry Potter books than listening to them. I certainly won’t stop, and I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy listening, but somehow, my imagination feels a little stifled by having someone else give the characters voices and describe the scenery.


#2 – English Edition vs. American Edition

It bothered me when I first found out that there was a different title for the American edition of the first Harry Potter book. Then, I heard that there were textual changes as well. Luckily, online booksellers make it easier to get the British editions here in the US. I feel silly, though, because I haven’t taken this opportunity, and I’ve never read the other English version.

The same thing goes for the audiobook. I find it it jolting when I hear the students talking about “soccer” instead of “football.” Since I’m not familiar with the differences, I’m sure there are other changes as well!


#3 – Different Narrators

Another major (and hotly-debated) difference in the audiobooks is the narrator. Apparently, British kids who grew up with Stephen Fry’s narration cannot think of anyone else reading Harry Potter. Again, while it’s not impossible to get access to the British edition of the audiobook, only the American edition is available on Audible. Jim Dale is the narrator, and I never download a book until I listen to the audio sample offered and determine that I can spend hours listening to a particular person’s voice. So I think Dale is just fine! But now I have the itch to get a copy of the Fry-read audiobook!

Click here for a comparison of the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets read by the two different narrators.


#4 – Pronunciation

Okay, I’ll admit it. When I first read the Harry Potter books, I had no idea how to pronounce “Hermione,” so in my head, it went something like “Her-Me-Own.” Luckily, by the time the movies came out, I had learned better!

The audiobook is bringing up a whole host of other pronunciations that have me questioning everything I ever thought I knew–the biggest being the pronunciation of “Voldemort.” I always pronounced the “t” at the end of his name and so did the actors in the movie, but Jim Dale leaves off the hard consonant at the end. It’s an interesting change, for a few reasons, but the one that strikes me the most is that the end of the Dark Lord’s name now rhymes with “Dumbledore.”


#5 – Chapters

If I may be allowed one more complaint (really, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea–I do enjoy the audiobook!), it would have to be a little thing to do with the editing of the recording. I’m used to there being some sort of a break or pause between the end of a chapter and the next. In the American edition, the last sentence of a chapter will end and the next chapter follows immediately. It’s a little thing, but I find it a bit jarring to hear, “‘To Harry Potter — the boy who lived!’ Chapter Two: The Vanishing Glass,” all lumped together.


If you have listened to any of the Harry Potter audiobooks, especially if you’ve heard both English versions or listened in languages other than English, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below! You can also let me know if you’d ever consider getting an audiobook or how you pronounce “Voldemort”!


7 thoughts on “Potter Month: 5 Harry Potter Audiobook Observations

  1. Michelle Anneliese says:

    I started reading the books through the audio book by Jim Dale. I would read along with the audio, just cause I couldn’t keep up so young. I can definitely understand how it’s just too different, especially if you just read the book first.


  2. Alice says:

    I never listened to audiobooks before until a couple of months ago when I was feeling very bad in bed, because my eyes were watering and I couldn’t keep them open nor I could read because of my pollen allergy, so I took the leap and I purchased the first audiobook of the series. I purchased it on Pottermore, where you can choose the language, I decided to go with the UK edition (instead of the italian one), because I knew the narrator, Stephen Fry, and I’m so happy with my choice, because it didn’t disappoint me at all! Instead, I couldn’t think about another narrator for these books, he’s absolutely amazing, really. I think you should definitely listen to the british edition. I had some difficulties with some names, only because they completely changed in the italian translation, but it’s not Stephen’s fault 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gekitsu says:

    i have to admit i’m not much of an audiobook person. while some people are really good at reading stories (*cough*neil gaiman*cough*), and i like some folks’ voices enough that i’d listen to them reading something (jeremy irons, for example. i’d listen to him read the phone book), audiobooks in general aren’t my thing. like videos, they are painfully slow. whenever some instruction is available only on youtube, i groan inwardly because i’ll have to sit through several minutes of video for something i could have read in ~30 seconds. and, as you mentioned, you already get someone’s interpretation of it instead of being free to form your own.

    quite puzzling why i like listening to podcasts much more than listening to audiobooks. maybe because podcasts are closer to normal speech speed and cadence, and the less polished way of how conversations flow compared to a crafted text.

    anyway, voldemort has the ‘t’ sound at the end for me, but i’ve been contaminated by everyone pronouncing it that way for years befor ei started reading the books. why would an english teen with really strong elitist leaningsa adopt a more french pronunciation, though?

    Liked by 1 person

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