The Age of Audio Books

Discovering a new method to enjoy books.

There are many ways to get your reading fix throughout the day. In our modern age of technology, there is something to be said about the ability to listen to a book while driving along through rush hour or to be sitting with your computer and reading your favorite novel on the screen.  Now, you don’t even need your computer to read eBooks, since the release of items like the Kindle and Nook.

About 13 years ago, I was working in the music industry and the artist that my company was managing was signed by a label that also owned an audio book company. It was the first time I had seen them and through our meetings, we were allowed to get a few books for ourselves. I have always been an avid reader but this was the first time that I had listened to a book. I was reluctant to try the books on tapes so I stored them back on the shelf for a couple of years. Then I had a position that required me to drive for over an hour a day and I found that the books came in handy. This began my journey to a new obsession.

Audio books added a new depth to the stories. I found that stories that ordinarily wouldn’t intrigue me in the written word from were somehow fascinating when I listened to them.  Perhaps one of the main reasons for this was how the narrators brought the story to life. It may have also been that since my eyes weren’t engaged and I was only listening, I could slip into the author’s world easier than following it on the pages. The only drawback I found was that the media of cassette tapes was frustrating when it came to checking them out from the library. After listening I would listen to seven of the eight cassettes and becoming completely engrossed in the story, the final tape would invariably break or be ejected from the player, leaving me with a trail of black audio tape mess, a broken heart and no conclusion to the story.  After a few of these let-downs, coupled with and a shorter commute, I lost interest. In time, another technological improvement came along, the iPod.

It took me a few years to see the benefit to these devices beyond listening to music. It wasn’t until I discovered the website that I slipped back into the audio world of stories.  With a small monthly fee, I was able to download a book a month for the cost of lunch and listen on my way to and from work. I would find myself disappointed when I would arrive at my destination because I would be lost in the moment of the story.

This year alone, I have covered more books, by listening, then I would have had time to read. In addition to the printed novels that I have experience, I have covered over six book series and went back to many classic works that I didn’t have time to read the traditional way. It has opened up a new time to enjoy authors, my drive time.

So, if you are looking for a way in increase your ability to enjoy more books, getting lost in a story, I would recommend you give audio books a try. With the narrators giving depth to the story, the ability to use time that might have been lost, and the accessibility to stories that you might have missed all make this medium a nice addition to traditional reading.

Until next time…

© 2010

7 Comments on The Age of Audio Books

  1. Liked this one alot. Your statement about the last installment of an audio cassette is the same complaint I hear from my blind aunt…She would invariably really get into the book…and alas, the last tape would be damaged and she’d never get to hear the ending. And while she could request this book again, that didn’t guarantee she’d get it..or by the time she did…she was either not interested any more…or she’d forgotten what she’d already read.

    • With the new audio files being on CD or downloadable, this has been much better. I do not have the issues that I had in the past. The best method for those that do no want to purchase the downloads through or through is to check with your local library and see if they offer the service to check out an MP3 player.

      For those that haven’t tried it, don’t stop with the first one. Each narrator is different and, like all things, some are not as good as others. Give them a chance.

      Happy listening.

  2. OOOOOOH fantastic post. Jonathan and I discovered the wonders of audiobooks in Oct 2002 when we bought The Hobbit unabridged in Chicago for our drive home. As soon as we were finished, we purchased the LOTR trilogy. I had never tried reading it and he abandoned several attempts of slogging through – but the narration on the CDs was fantastic and we looked forward to getting in the car just so we could listen.

    Now we use our wonder iPods and when it was time to replace the stereo in the car, made sure we had one with a aux port just for this. We used to fight over new Dresden books and who got to read them first and which one had to wait. I think it was around book 8 or 9 that Jonathan discovered the audiobook is released within about a week of the hardcover. Now we listen to it at the same time (read by James Marsters!).

    Narration really DOES make all the difference, so I have to agree – if you don’t like the first one because of the reading, do try another.

    • I have to admit that I am so tempted to listen to James Marsters read the Dresden Files. I have enjoyed him as an actor and think that he would be very dynamic for that type of book. I have read all the series (look for a coming blog on Jim Butcher) and believe that the stories are very engaging.

      As far as replacing your car stereo with one that and an aux port for your iPod, I did that earlier this year. The criteria for my new stereo was that my iPod could connect and had the ability to be controlled by the system. The clarity far better than I expected.

  3. I LOVE to read, but I have noticed as I have aged that my eyes are considerably weaker and I have a tendency to sometimes get tired quicker these days. I have only listened to one audiobook and I really enjoyed it. But I don’t have a long commute to work and had forgotten about that form of media prior to taking my trip to Georgia. At home I usually read conventional books, however I have considered looking into the digital versions. Thank you for your suggestions and bringing these options back into my mind for future purchases.

    • I used it my audio books for my commute but I have also listened to them while cutting grass, doing the dishes and riding my bike. Any time would be a good time to listen. I am not suggesting that audio books should replace their printed conterparts but that they can be used while you are doing other activities.

    • My husband also listens while cutting grass, and I will listen while in the kitchen cleaning or working on a big dinner. Husband also listens while shaving and then showering.

      Working at surplus, we have have old computer speakers in the kitchen and in the bathroom. They come ready to plug in and equipment with a jack to stick right into an iPod. Perfect for listening in the house.

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