I love audio books; they used to be the almost an afterthought in the kingdom of “real” books, but that is no longer the case. I discovered that 67 million Americans listen to audio books each year and that about 48% of frequent listeners are under the age of 35. The ever-increasing popularity of audio books is partially driven by their convenience. Book fans can listen anywhere and even do other things while listening.
I purchase audio content on CD and by downloading audio book files from Audible. I have also found that my local public library has an extensive collection of audio books as part of its “e-book” selection that I can easily download with my library card.
I listen mostly while running, well jogging; OK fine, I am actually just walking, but you get the idea. I load my mystery or thriller books onto my “portable device,” grab my headphones, and off I go. I find this provides powerful motivation to get out, walking and dodging the neighborhood dogs, because I just MUST know what happens next. Lots of others must agree with me since the “mystery thriller suspense” audio books are the most popular.
Listening to a book is not the same experience as reading a book, and reading aloud is a separate skill set from merely talking. The narrator has to develop a unique “voice” for each character as well as for the background explanations. Books have a varied cast –men, women, authorities, criminals, and all of these need to have a distinctive auditory presence in the book, and all are usually spoken by one narrator. A narrator can make or break an audio book.
I think audio books are an appropriate way to enjoy novels, as fitting as the “printed” word. Now authors, what do you think? Are your books transcribed into the audio format? Do you get to choose the narrator? Do you listen to audio books, either your own or those written by others?