Have you ever listened to an audio book? A key advantage is that they are hands-free, allowing you to listen to a book while doing something else. There are opportunities to listen while sitting on the bus, train or plane, traveling by car, standing on line, working out, sunbathing, knitting, fishing, gardening, sitting in a waiting room, cooking or walking. The possibilities are endless!
Audiobooks have been around a long time – since Thomas Edison invented the phonograph! Early voice recordings had limited duration; “Talking Books” made prior to World War II featured poems, short stories and similarly brief content. The introduction of 12″ LP records allowed for longer works, including abridged novels. By the mid-1980s, cassette tapes increased the popularity of audio books and they began to sell in higher numbers, due largely to portable and automobile tape players.
For me, my time spent in the car, commuting to work and listening to the radio is what made me give audio books a try. Radio commentary was falling short for me, and I prefer listening to a story instead of music – it can be much more stimulating! I first started listening to audiobooks on cassette, then later switched to CDs. Now we have digital audiobooks, which free the user from having to carry physical media such as tapes and discs; instead, the content is downloaded. Taking a class online for iPad usage was instrumental in my upgrading from CDs to digital audio books.
Listening to audio books is much easier today than when this concept first was introduced. Cloud computing and syncing means that since I made the transition from CD to digital, I can take the audio book with me everywhere. You can even have the electronic file on your smart phone, computer, laptop and iPad simultaneously.
Audio books can help you make progress with your must-read list. In fact I’m ‘reading’ many more books per year. When I finish one book I go immediately to the next one on my list. There are so many different types of books to listen to: fiction and nonfiction, from classics to new releases.
Because of the performance aspect, books read aloud can give you a deeper sense of wonderment as the story unfolds. You really want to know what happens next! How will the scene play out? Many times I have sat in my car, in a parking lot or driveway after reaching my destination, to keep listening. This is a common occurrence in the audiobook world.
Audiobooks come with a special aura created by the narrator. Since I’ve listened to many series with a reoccurring cast of characters, I started to associate the voice with each character and expect the same voices for each book. These narrators can be known for their work as an author or actor; many are celebrated for their distinctive speaking voices. This relatively new industry takes such ability serious enough to bestow awards for outstanding performances on audio books.
Audiobooks are great for the very young, those getting on in years and everyone in between. They have been shown to increase reading ability in school-age children. Plus audio books have long been designed with the blind and sight-impaired in mind.
Will you be incorporating audiobooks into your life? I’m so glad that I have, just on convenience alone.
Where can I find audio books?
If you’re ready to try them out for yourself, your Touro student ID card lets you access audio books on a variety of topics at Touro College’s many library locations. To search for available titles, just visit our advanced search web page, and select “Audio (non-musical)” in the Material box. They have a shorter loan period than our print materials, but you can borrow CDs and cassettes for up to four days.
Audiobooks are also available at public libraries with a valid library card. Public libraries are well stocked with books on CD and are increasingly providing downloadable audiobooks. A typical public library policy allows patrons up to five audiobooks at once, for 14 days.