How do you listen to audiobooks?

March 18, 2016 Discussion 71

 

Audiobooks are one form of reading I have never been able to immerse myself in. A fact that I find unfortunate because I could get so much more books read if I could master listening to audiobooks. They’re just so handy really, and great when you have some other boring/mindless tasks to complete.

In my entire life I have listened to two audiobooks

The very first audiobook I remember listening to was one of the Silver Brumby sequels. I think I was 10 at the time. The book was on cassette tapes we borrowed from the library. Every day I’d put it in the cassette player, lay down on the floor and listen to it for a while. I got a decent way through it if I didn’t finish it.

The second audiobook was THE FALSE PRINCE. It was free so I downloaded it and got maybe a chapter or two in but really struggled. In the end I gave up and just borrowed the physical book from the library (and then finished it incredibly quickly)

I struggle with audiobooks because I’m easily distracted.

distracted

My brain never slows down. It’s constantly turning over thinking of one thing or another. Every time I’ve attempted to listen to an audiobook my mind starts wandering, I zone out, and next thing I realise a good two or three minutes have passed. This happens to me in lectures too and is a really annoying habit.

Every time I zone out I have to go back to the last thing I remember hearing and start again. In the long run it ends up taking longer than if I’d just physically read the page myself. Which reminds me of another thing that annoys me about audiobooks: I usually read at a faster pace than the narrator speaks (but this can be changed with speeding things up to 1.5x speed, etc).

A lot of people listen to audiobooks when they clean, exercise, drive, etc but even that doesn’t work for me. I’m probably just a terrible multi-tasker, but what happens when I tried this listening to podcasts was that I end up focusing on the task I was doing and forget to listen to the story.

I want to try listening to audiobooks again

Despite all these past failures I don’t want to give up on audiobooks just yet. My struggles could be the result of audiobooks just not being for me, or maybe I just haven’t found a good audiobook yet. Either way I want to try at least a couple of more times.

With uni, I really struggle to find time to sit down and read a book, let alone pick up more hobbies. If I can get into audiobooks I might be able to get through more than a book or two a month. I could listen to them while brushing my teeth, getting ready in the morning, etc, etc. Plus audiobooks would mean I can start utilising my library again.

The key thing for me would be to not do anything that could take my focus away from the audiobook. That means no reading things on the internet, no tasks that require any sort of brain activity, etc. I’ve been thinking of buying one of those adult colouring books and listening to an audiobook as I colour in some of those pictures for an hour or so every night after I finish studying.

How do you listen to audiobooks?

Have any good audiobooks to recommend?

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71 Responses to “How do you listen to audiobooks?”

  1. Wendy

    I’m very similar with getting distracted easily and hence finding audiobooks hard to concentrate on! Though I’m currently listening to The Family Law by Benjamin Law, and in this case I’m liking the experience a lot because it’s a memoir, and narrated by the author. I once read an excerpt from the book in an anthology and wasn’t as engaged as I’ve been so far when listening to it — a lot of the voice and tone in the memoir and the in-jokes are more engaging and funny when read out loud. I haven’t finished it but if you’re interested in the memoir, I’d recommend the audiobook.

    The only other audiobook I’ve listened to before was The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett. The software I was using at the time couldn’t speed up the fairly slow narration, so I found it frustrating that it was 14 hours long. xD I think I’ll stick to text for the most part — it’s just more immersive (when well-written, of course).

    • Bec

      I haven’t listened to anything narrated by the author before, but the tone of the novel definitely influences how engaging it it.

      Speeding up helps so much!

  2. Dinara

    I am the exact same way with audiobooks. I can’t keep my attention on the narration for more than a few minutes before drifting off. Then again, it may also depend on who’s narrating. I listened to Leonard Nimoy’s narration of a Ray Bradbury story and actually payed attention.

  3. Krutula Nair

    Oh, I have the same problem with audiobooks – lack of focus and slower speed (compared to reading it myself) and for a long time, I didn’t venture to listen to them. I had got an audiobook as a prize but I really struggled to finish it – I had to backtrack when I lost focus, and then listen all over again. For books that I am reading for the first time, audiobooks are really not ideal. However, last year I picked up an audiobook of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (I had already read it) and the narrator (Will Patton, who I really like now) was so good, I got the other two too, for re-reads.

    I think with audiobooks the narrator makes a big difference. If it is a story you would like reading, but the narrator is terrible (like that first audio book I read), then not much can be done. However, I would recommend audiobooks for when you are re-reading a series for an upcoming sequel – you don’t waste actual reading time and you are still refreshed about the story.
    Krutula Nair recently posted…Book Blogger Hop: March 18-24

    • Bec

      Being able to up the speed really helps a lot. You can set it to a speed that is faster than what your eyes could register. Only problem is if you zone out it’s harder to find your place haha

      I need to listen to the Raven Cycle audios! I’ve been considering listening to them to reread (either before the Raven King comes out or sometime in the future).

      The narrator definitely plays a big part. If they have a boring voice it can be really hard to pay attention.

  4. Omobola

    I have never actually tried audio books mainly because I think I will zone out while reading them too and because the narrator can never be as fast as I am while reading the physical book. I also have one more problem which is that I am a hoarder and I panic when I can’t find my stuffs which make audio files less intangible to me. They are technically abstracts and I can exactly stare at them for hours without doing anything, can I?
    Omobola recently posted…Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

    • Bec

      Being able to increase the speed of the track makes the reading either match or go faster than what you can physically read. As for zoning out that is a problem, so I try to listen when I’m not focusing on other words or anything important.

      Once upon a time audiobooks came on CDs and cassette tapes which would have been great to have a physical impression of what you’ve read/ have to read.

  5. Amanda @ Nellie and Co.

    I’ve NEVER tried an audiobook, merely because I’ve heard they take longer to get through, so I’d much rather just cram a book in 4 hours than listen to someone do it for me at half the speed, you know? Maybe they’re good, but I also reckon I’d find bad ones, like voices that don’t work for me, and that sucks, so I’ll probably never try them. Although I’d be tempted by the HP’s because I like Stephen Fry and he’s hilarious! :)
    Amanda @ Nellie and Co. recently posted…How To Simply and Successfully Increase Your Instagram Presence

    • Bec

      By the time this book went up I’ve listened to quite a few audiobooks haha. And honestly I think it’s making me get through books faster! I can set the speed of the audiobook track to 1.25 – 1.75x normal and get through more at times when I normally wouldn’t be able to physically read (falling asleep, driving, etc).

      Having a good narrator is key! I much prefer British narrators I’ve found. Stephen Fry is great! And Code Name Verity has AMAZING voice actors as well.

  6. Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books

    THANK YOU!! I was wondering if I was the only one who can’t do audio right! I did one–but when I listened to it, my mind would wander and I would end up backing it up like 93 times. What even is the best way to audio?? do you download the Audible app on your phone and listen with headphones?? Audio just plain confuses me, but so many people do it that I feel maybe I just need to learn the way or something?
    Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books recently posted…New YA Book Releases For The Week Of 3/13

    • Bec

      It takes some getting used to! You kind of have to figure out what works for you and it can take a bit of trial and error.

      The way I’ve been listening to them is apps like Overdrive and Borrow Box that have my library catalogue so I can borrow audiobooks.

  7. Alex Smith

    I decided to increase my reading by using the 40 hrs a week I dedicate to work to books instead! Usually when working I’m in front of a computer and my mind isn’t occupied so I then get distracted and go on random YouTube searches or ‘hey look that’s a pretty book, I don’t own that book, where can I get it?’ type train of thoughts.
    BUT 2 weeks ago I discovered audiobooks were the solution to all my problems. I actually didn’t want to finish work today and kept going because I was so engrossed in my book, More Than This by Patrick Ness.
    I’ve got about 25hrs of work I need to do over the weekend and it’s going to speed past with my new addiction

    • Jackie

      If you’re a member of your local public library, download the overdrive app and you can listen to free audiobooks instead of having to pay for them.

      • Alex Smith

        This is what got me into them. I got Overdrive and BorrowBox. My local library uses BorrowBox and a library I lived near 10 years ago and I’m still a member of does Overdrive.
        Addicted :)

    • Bec

      I am so guilty of the random youtube searches! It’s wasting so much reading time.

      I wish I could do study/ work while listening to audiobooks! I can’t focus on two different word sources at the same time but I’m so glad it works for you!

      • Alex Smith

        I’m lucky my job isn’t word based at all. It’s to do with electrical signals so it’s all just patterns in lines, which is much quicker if you don’t think and you assign based on reaction rather than sit and think about it. So audiobooks are perfect for me. My work essentially doesn’t use much brain power at all so I’m mostly bored and unfocused. But now audiobooks help my mind stay active and then it’s like I’m doing work in the background and primarily I’m listening to a book. And I can now read books whilst at the same time earn money, heck yes!

    • Bec

      That’s a shame :( I’ve recently found that I can’t do overly much while listening to audiobooks, but playing a mindless puzzle game on my phone helps me stay focused on the book.

  8. Tasya

    Finally someone who also can’t listen to audiobooks :’ Like you, I’m also easily distracted. I can’t seemed to focused while listening to other people talking. It’s a bad habit of mine that many of my friends already complained. When in class, it’s okay bc I still asked my friends if I missed my teacher said. But with audio book? Just a moment distracted, and I’d lost, don’t know what’s happening in the story. It’s just so hard *sobs*
    Tasya recently posted…Book Review: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Adieh

    • Bec

      It’s hard for me to focus on voices, but at the same time voices are one of the things that distract me from study haha.

      Most audiobooks come with “back track 15 seconds” things which can help when you’re lost, but if you’ve missed a whole chunk it can be hard to find your place again.

  9. Lauren @ Bookmark Lit

    I definitely get distracted easily, but I love audiobooks. I usually listen in the shower and while getting ready in the morning. I wish I had good tips for staying focused, but I find my mind wandering no matter what :/ However, I do make sure to only listen to some genres as audiobooks. Anything with complex world-building (fantasy) is never a good audio read for me. I prefer contemporaries because it’s usually not a HUGE deal if you miss a minute or so. I definitely can READ faster than I can listen (by a lot…) but I love having something to fill the gaps of time when I usually couldn’t read. My best suggestion is listening to any celebrity-narrated audiobooks you may have on your TBR. If you were ever interested in the books by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, etc.. those are great because they narrate them themselves. It always makes me laugh and keeps me interested.
    Lauren @ Bookmark Lit recently posted…New & Upcoming Books I’m Super Excited For

    • Bec

      The shower would be such a good place to listen to them!! I just need a way to waterproof a system haha.

      I haven’t tried to many epic fantasy audiobooks yet and I honestly don’t think I will, just because of all that world building and stuff you need to remember (and my auditory memory is horrendous). I like to take my time with those. Contemporary and paranormal though will be a lot of fun to listen to (and also shorter).

      I haven’t listened to anything narrated by the author themselves yet! Though there’s a few I want to try that would be highly entertaining haha

  10. Joy // Joyousreads

    It also depends on what you’re reading. Right now, I’m struggling with Seveneves. It’s dry and clinical, but the novel has some merits to it that I can’t bear to quit. So in some ways, if you’re already struggling with audiobooks, you kind have to pick the right ones. I’m also picky when it comes to the voices of the narrators. That’s why it’s great to sample the audiobook first so you can get a feel for the narrators. But I find audiobooks even more convenient than e-books. I can multi-task more easily than I can with ebooks.
    Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…Confessions of an Addict [45]: My Bloglovin’ Habits

    • Bec

      Oh definitely! That goes for any type of book really. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it doesn’t.

      Sampling audiobooks is something I should do more often. Mostly I just download them from the library and start (I haven’t found any terrible ones yet fortunately!)

  11. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Yeah you definitely can’t try reading anything when listening to an audiobook, the brain just isn’t made to listen and read all at once. Believe me, sometimes I wish I could read a book PLUS listen to a book at the same time LOL! For me, I got into audiobooks for my commute to and from work. Driving isn’t exactly mindless, but it’s routine enough that I can pay attention to the book while doing it – unless some crazy driving happens around me o.O I do find that I can only listen to lighter YA fantasy instead of epic of high-fantasy on audio because those books require more concentration than I can give while driving. I can also listen when I’m doing dishes, cooking or if I’m sick and have to stay in bed. Anything more complex and I lose concentration.

    I’d recommend trying audiobooks when you’re getting ready for bed. You can set a timer so the book shuts down automatically after a while and that way: lights off, no distractions. As for recommended listens: Rick Riordan books are perfect, same as Tamora Pierce. I adored The Old Kingdom books on audio, like I mentioned and Harry Potter of course ♥ MG books would probably be best to start since the plot isn’t too complex that if you do get distracted you end up lost. I hope this helps and good look with your audio quest :D
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: The Mark of Athena

    • Bec

      Some people can do it and they’re suprehuman! The human voice is just too distracting for me haha. Being able to read and listen to two different books at once would be so good though!

      HP is great audio! And I’d love to check out the others if my library has them.

  12. Stephanie Kaye

    I listen to audiobooks on my commute to and from work, so at least an hour every mon-fri. I also have sat down coloring in my adult coloring book and listening to an audiobook for hours while I color. It’s quite relaxing. There are some narrators that aren’t the greatest. However, there are some that are simply phenomenal! I really like the narrators they get for the Starbound series (These Broken Stars and This Shattered World, but I haven’t listened to Their Fractured Light yet). I use Audible and Overdrive (overdrive is awesome because you can link up your library, or at least most libraries)

    Good Luck!
    Stephanie Kaye recently posted…#ContRom2016 March #MonthlyTopic

    • Bec

      Colouring in while listening to audiobooks is something I want to do but haven’t had time to try yet! I think it would work well.

      You know, I wanted to reread the Starbound trilogy this year and listening to the audio sounds like a great way to do it :D

      My library uses Overdrive and Borrow Box so that’s what I’ve been using :)

  13. Julie

    My favorite time to listen to audiobooks is when I drive or when I go on walks. My commute isn’t very long but I usually can listen to a few chapters on my way to and from work. Luckily I never find the book to be too distracting while I’m driving or that could be a problem! When I walk on my lunch break or when I walk my dog they are also fantastic. I tend not to listen to them before I sleep because they actually keep me awake. Just like books I can’t put the story down to sleep!

    I would recommend The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix. I love those audiobooks and could listen to them all the time. Good Luck!
    Julie recently posted…Review – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

    • Bec

      A few chapters is till progress! and it adds up. It is very hard and go to sleep if the book is getting intense!

      Those are actually on my wishlist of audiobooks to try :D I might listen to them when I finish the HP series I think

  14. Celine DeSaix

    I like audiobooks when I’m reading books that are too dense or when I’m reading a book that uses older english. Hearing how it is supposed to sound helps me understand what the writer is actually saying. For high school and Uni I use audiobooks to better understand the material and get through it quicker.

    I’m really cheap so I always listen to them on youtube.

    • Bec

      Hearing the correct pronunciation really does help!

      I try to listen to them from my library (using the Overdrive and Borrow Box apps), just so I know that they’re being paid for and not pirated. I want to support the authors as much as I can.

  15. Jackie

    I’m a huge book reader and audiobook listener. Most of the time, I prefer listening to books over music or watching tv. Audiobooks are my go-to while I’m driving, cleaning, doing laundry, sewing, painting, or anything else where I can use background noise. Depending upon the reader, I listen to books at 1.5x or 2x their normal pace. Don’t worry if your mind wanders–you’ll catch up again soon enough. I’ve found that if you replace music with audiobooks, you’ll love how you can easily enjoy another book or two a week without losing any productivity. Let me know how it goes!

    • Bec

      They’re great to listen to while doing boring menial tasks! I haven’t quite worked up to 2x yet haha but I’m getting there (how much I speed it up really depends on how fast the narrator talks).

      Most of the time I listen to music is when I study, and I can’t listen to audiobooks then or I wouldn’t learn any of my course material hahaha

  16. JennRenee

    i do a lot of my listening at work. I have a very data entry type job that doesn’t require a lot of thinking or reading.I could literally do it in my sleep so I do it there. Sometimes on drives if i dont have people with me wanting to talk. I try when I go to the gym but find i get distracted there. I try when I do housework but also get distracted. so drive and work is for me.
    JennRenee recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker

    • Bec

      Audiobooks would really help pass the time then! I’ve been listening while driving and falling asleep. I think anywhere else there are so many distractions it’s hard to focus.

  17. Mara @ Mara Was Here

    I tried listening to one audiobook before and a lot of other audiobook excerpts, but I don’t think it’ll ever be for me. Like you, I always zone out every after a few minutes and I’d have to rewind everything again so I can understand what just happened. I do agree that it’s helpful for multitasking purposes though, since I sometimes use my iPhone’s “Speak” feature when I’m doing something else while reading. But I only do it when I’m really busy, because like I said, I tend to not understand anything at all. >.<

    Great post, Bec!
    Mara @ Mara Was Here recently posted…10 Things I’d Ask A Genie For As A Bookworm

    • Bec

      It can take a while before you find the one audiobook that works for you and sucks you in haha. The more you listen the easier it gets I am finding.

      Thanks!

    • Bec

      I am guilty of zoning out with physical books too haha

      Yes puzzle games work so well! That’s essentially what helped me stay focused and get into audiobooks earlier in the year (I wrote this post back in December haha). I want to try colouring in while I listen too.

  18. ShootingStarsMag

    I had to listen to two audio books for a class, and to be honest? I didn’t finish either of them. I have a really hard time focusing too without my mind wandering over all sorts of things. I did this all the time during classes/lectures. It’s crazy how I was able to do so well in some classes with this annoying little habit. hah

    I am really curious about listening to more audios and I want to try, like you said, because it would help get more reading in. Plus, I think it sounds relaxing, if I could just sit and focus. I think I might try a celeb memoir where THEY read it; I think that could be intriguing, especially if the book is funny.

    -Lauren
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Sunday Post (14): Raising Money for London!

    • Bec

      It can be really hard to focus on people talking to you sometimes.

      Since I wrote this post (back in December) I’ve actually figured out how audiobooks work for me so I might write a new post with some tips soon :) They can be quite relaxing.

  19. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    I have exactly the same problems with audio books! I have no problems with concentrating on reading a book, but the moment I try to listen to one my mind goes in all kinds of directions. I simply can’t focus on the story and I loose track of everything. BUT, I am currently listening to Neverwhere by the BBC and it is great. It is not told by someone, but played by different known actors. It is so much easier to listen to a story when there are background effects. Try it out while you can :)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01r527b
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Let it go | The books that disappointed me.

    • Bec

      Having a good narrator who can portray different characters and emotions well helps a lot, but I haven’t listened to anything with a full cast and effects yet. There’s honestly been so many times where the right kind of music or effect or new voice would just make the audiobook even better. I’m keen to give the Illuminae audiobook a try one day simply because they do use different actors and music and effects and things.

      I’ve bookmarked Neverwhere and will certainly check it out! The preview has got me intrigued haha

    • Bec

      Just had a look and not all the episodes of Neverwhere are available anymore *sobs* Hopefully they release a finalised edition I can borrow from my library or something sometime.

    • Bec

      You can speed the track up which helps a lot, but it’s hard to find a speed that is still easy to listen to sometimes.

      Good luck with your audio trial!

  20. Lonna

    The False Prince was so good! Oh that Sage, Jaron, King…

    I totally get your predicament with audio books. It’s so easy to be distracted. I only listen to books when I’m commuting to work. That’s a solid 30 minutes of entertainment. But, now that my commute consists of getting out of bed and walking to the home office, that doesn’t work so well. :D I think it’s a great idea to get some of those adult coloring books to unwind and decompress whilst getting some “reading” in. And, if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay too. *wink*
    Lonna recently posted…Unleash the Storm (Steel and Stone 5) Blog Tour and Kindle Paperwhite Giveaway

  21. Alex

    I have only listened to one audio book (If I Stay) and I listened to it on my mp3. My mp3 is VERY basic and I can’t skip to anything. So, I was listening to the book and made it halfway through and when I wanted to increase the volume, I accidentally changed it to the next song (it has one button for everything) and I didn’t want to go back and listen to it all over again. :(
    Audio books are really nice, though I have the attention span of a housefly. When I bought If I Stay months later, I could still hear that voice from the audio book while I was reading it!

  22. Harvey Richards

    Yeah, I hardly EVER listen to audiobooks :) I sometimes try them when I’m running, but I just don’t like the experience, y’know? I mean, it’s super easy to get distracted, but the narrator keeps on talking regardless so then you have no idea what’s going on and then you have to rewind and then… ARRGGHH.! Basically, I prefer real books XD
    Harvey Richards recently posted…How Big Do We Really Want Our Book Blogs To Be?

    • Bec

      I haven’t tried them while exercising yet but it’s something I need to attempt soon. It might make it slightly more entertaining if all I’m doing is running on a treadmill in my house haha.

      Rewinding to just the right spot can be so difficult!

  23. Terri M.

    I TOTALLY struggled with the idea of audiobooks and then few things happened…

    1) I found an amazing narrators (or narrators) and fell in love with finding more books like that. Code Name Verity…amazing. Just beautiful. Wow!

    2) I came to despise that 15 to 20 minutes of my my 30 minute commute was commercials. I wanted to do something productive with my time so I started listening to books. Driving and “reading” is amazing. :)

    I got started with the SYNC audiobooks in the summer. They are free and so if I didn’t like something I could move on. Now I use my library…again for the same reason. I’ve purchased very few audiobooks, but some of my favorites novels I now have on audiobook (like Outlander).
    Terri M. recently posted…Scenic Sundays | My Amazing Linn Area Reads Experience

    • Bec

      Code Name Verity had such AMAZING narration! I listened to it the other week and it was just amazing.

      SYNC was how I got The False Prince and I want to try listening to more of their stuff again this year. Mostly I’ve been using my library :)

  24. peach @ rebelle reads

    um I don’t?? #oddoneout

    I wish I did listen to audiobooks, though. A lot of people seem to do. My mom was listening to them the other day, and I was trying to force the Kasie West samples upon her and she wasn’t really having it. Personally, I just like reading & I doubt I could sit around, listening, to the story being told to be tbh. Great, thoughtful post, Bec! :D
    peach @ rebelle reads recently posted…Review: Summer of Supernovas

    • Bec

      Reading and audiobooks each have their own charms and not all will work for everyone. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right book too though.

      Thanks :)

    • Bec

      Having a voice that doesn’t really match the character can be jarring and distracting. I actually want to try The Scorpio Races audio this year as a reread.

  25. Sarah J.

    When I first started listening to audiobooks I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into them. I find that if I give myself a task to do while starting a chapter I will eventually just start listening and enjoy myself, but continue doing my task. I also think it’s really important to know what you want to listen to on audibooks. I don’t recommend classics or long fantasy novels, but contemporaries like Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and Anne of Green Gables have a fun and emotional pacing to them that makes it hard to stop listening.
    Sarah J. recently posted…It’s March, But Here’s My January Book Haul

    • Bec

      Not being able to get into them is a big worry! Lighter books definitely seem to be the way to go (which is good because YA is what I like to read most and most of them are nice and short haha)

  26. Annie

    I’ve only listened to one audiobook in my life and that as in high school. But I figured out, while editing my own audiobook, that my not an audio learner. Like you, I read faster than the narrator does. And I can follow a story pretty easily (visual learner) but when listening *even to my own novel* I lost track of where I was in the story and what had just happened!

    So, while I will probably record an edit an audiobook for every novel I write (I love working with the actors), I don’t know how much I’ll listen to them :)
    Annie recently posted…Meet the characters of Enchanted Storms

    • Bec

      I’m not an auditory person either. I can’t be doing anything else other than playing a phone game or trying to sleep. Speeding them up helps with the slow narration though.

      Maybe one day you’ll find one that just works well for you!

  27. Denice

    I listen to audiobook depends if it’s my favorite book goes as well to its narrator, A great storyteller or narrator can make the story quite a lot more fascinating.I’m picky when it comes to the audiobook so I can say Storyteller has a major influence.

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