Lots of people like to read, that much is clear. How many of you like to listen to books as well? Previously the domain of those with impaired vision, audiobooks are becoming really popular across the board, with an explosion of good books available online. As a child in Glasgow, I remember seeing talking books on cassette, along with the large print books, and associated them with elderly readers. Thankfully I’ve since been proved wrong, and audiobooks offer a great way of reaching more people. Despite having a copy of Dracula on my shelf for about ten years, I didn’t finish it until earlier this year, spurred on by a brilliantly produced audiobook. Other providers are available, but I tend to buy mine from Audible. Their website can be reached here.
Personally, I find it very relaxing having a book read to me. So much so that I often drift off to sleep with my headphones on! I like long stories, and two that I have on my player at the moment are The Lord of the Rings and The Stand, by Tolkien and Stephen King respectively. Both are voiced by excellent narrators, which is a distinct advantage. There’s nothing worse than being able to hear the narrator trying to ingest the microphone, or worse, use woefully bad voices for your favourite characters.
Another advantage of listening to a book is that you don’t need to carry it with you, just a media player. Having spent the last few months travelling up and down the length of Scotland by coach and train, it has been a real advantage. Saves on eye-strain too, which is always a bonus.
There are down-sides to this, of course. Nobody hunts for second hand audiobooks in old bookshops with great character, and nobody is ever going to stand and browse your collection, sparking interesting book conversations. Nothing beats the feeling of a good book in your hand either, or that lovely musty smell that old books have. Still, in this case, it is convenience that wins. Of all of the audiobooks I own, I have paper copies of all but one. At the moment, I am rereading the Lord of the Rings (from here on in, abbreviated to LOTR) using both the hard copy and audiobook. When I head off on the coach next week, I will carry my mp3 player, and listen to it there too.
Anyway, I like audiobooks, and will definitely be buying some more in future. I’ll be buying plenty of real paper books too, but for travelling, I don’t think they can be beaten. What do you think?