audiobooks or "audibles." I find the popularity of these quite strange--guess I'm wired differently from most. I do occasionally enjoy hearing a book read aloud IF the reader has a voice with what I would consider a good timbre, has what I consider to be good diction, and can bring some nuance and flair to the reading. Most of these things, judging from the few I have had to encounter, are read either by Midwestern Americans with voices so banal you long for sleep but are unable to find it due to the insistent braying of phonemes, or, if it's a UK production, one of the most ghastly examples of "estuary English." Just not my flagon of mead.
I have to say they can grow on you. Of course it all depends on the reader. If you can't stand the voice or how the text is interpreted, it is a waste of money. I never was a fan when they still sold mostly as CDs. They were very expensive, you needed a player or a Walkman and I was no jogger. When downloads became more popular and one could play them on a handy or PC, for me it became more interesting as I hear them mostly outside. At first I mostly picked books I had already read and liked. All genres. From Sherlock Holmes to Cornwell's Sharpe. It is a different experience and you don't need to concentrate so much on hearing. Later I tried new books. Currently it is Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts, which is a lot of fun.
I don't get the appeal of condensed versions which are produced surprisingly often either. Of course big books are for long hearing. King's The Stand is in translation 54 hours long for instance. I guess it can be a bit daunting to commit yourself to 4 months or more of hearing to complete the novel. So maybe that is why the shorter versions are bought. You get the plot.