Yes, it’s true.
I recently found out just how true this was a few weeks ago when I was listening to an audiobook. I have been steadily listening to this series ( In Death by J.D. Robb) over the last year, but at first, I didn’t listen to them in order. So I heard the newest five, some in the middle, and then decided to start at the beginning. Now I am working my way up chronologically, but I have knowledge about the later series such as character motivations, who plays a significant role, etc.
I had originally requested the second book in the series from my library and mistakenly hit the button for the Abridged version. I then ripped it to my personal library so I could listen to it on my iPod while I worked. But then, I discovered my error and requested the longer Unabridged version and copied it also. When I went to listen to it at work, I listened to the first disc of the Abridged version first. Then, realizing that I must have left the old track on the iPod, I just started over again and heard the Unabridged version. Having listened to the two albums back to back, the differences were clear…and disturbing.
Yes, some of what they cut out was descriptive fluff. When the protagonist drove across town in NYC, it was taken care of in the Abridged version with a sentence, where the original version had a nice paragraph or two of prose.
But there were at least two other scenes that were cut in the Abridged version that have a HUGE impact throughout the rest of the series. I couldn’t believe it when I heard what had been missing.
The first scene was when the protagonist’s husband makes a huge personal sacrifice and decides to sell all of his semi-legal and illegal business ventures. Since she is a cop and has a rigid sense of justice, he knew she wouldn’t approve, and it may tarnish her public reputation later if it came out that he still dealt in underhanded business. This choice is referred back to numerous times later in the series. Was it even mentioned in the Abridged version? No.
The second scene that they cut out is when the main character meets someone else, who pops up from time to time throughout the series. He is totally cut from the Abridged version. True, he isn’t a main character, or even a secondary character, but he is definitely a character, if you know what I mean. He is a bouncer at a bar that is the backdrop to many meetings later in the series. And if you listened/ read the Abridged version, you totally missed out on their first meeting.
So to sum up, Abridged books = terrible crap. NEVER read them.