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Audio books - is the paper book really dead?

When I first heard of audio books in the 80’s they were mostly mentioned as being a good alternative for the sight impaired. An ugly green plastic box of cassettes at the library is my first memory of audio books, so speech books as they were known. Writing this brings back memories of the library lady who told us kids that these books are only for the blind and that we could not lend them. Too bad, I thought – it would be a great way to “read” books while doing other things, instead of watching TV.

Fast forward to 2006, and audio books are becoming a huge success. And they are certainly not just for those hard of seeing, they are for everybody. Imagine the busy business woman who just can’t squeeze in 30 minutes to read even thou she really longs to escape to the fantasy of a good book. Thanks to the Audio book, she can “read” that book while driving to work, rushing off for lunch or walking to the daycare center. In fact, now that the audio books can be loaded onto Ipods and other media players it’s really easy to bring it along anywhere you go. You could even load up tens of books and alternate between them. On a side not though; don’t forget to set your MP3 player to Normal play, instead of Random play or you could end up with some interestingly confusing results chapter wise.

Now that I have already touched the subject of different formats, why not get into that a bit deeper. You can get audio books in the form of CD’s, which is still a common way of delivering audio books. The disadvantage to this is that a book can take up a lot of CD’s and each only run for about one hour. More recently these spoken books have become available in the form of Media player sound files, such as MP3. The great advantage to this is that you can purchase your book online and download it and instantly begin to listen to it without any waiting time. If your book is not available as a sound file but as CD you can convert them yourself using different software, you can easily find them by searching for “convert CD mp3” or if you use Windows Media Player you actually have this function built in for free – it’s called Rip.

No matter what format you prefer, or when you like to listen to your books one thing is for sure – this market is growing and readers/listeners love the convenience of audio books. When the Internet became popular a bit over 10 years ago the rumor had it that the book was dying thanks to the Net, those rumors of death are now proved to be widely exaggerated. Books are not dead; they are “sound” alive.


About the Author: Trendspotting Markus Wahlgren picks up what he finds interesting in today's trends, Audio books, is one example. Many other subjects can be found at his blog; Independent Views.




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