At the Tucson Festival of Books last weekend, a couple of authors who have had their work published on audio books talked about the alternative to reading a book—wouldn’t that be “listening a book?” Since so many readers of A Traveler’s Library seem to like to listen while they travel, I wanted to pass along comments by Jonathan Lowe, author of Postal and several other recorded books. Like to be scared while you drive? Try his Tall Tales from the Road.
Lowe pointed out that audio books are evolving. From one sole reader in a studio, publishers have branched out to add music, sound effects, and even multiple readers. It occurs to me this amounts to “staging” the books like the radio plays of the 1940’s. Good old Grand Central Station and The Mercury Theater of the Air could serve as good models for people producing audio books today.
I was intrigued to hear that 20% of adults surveyed had listened to two or more audio books over the previous year, and 40% of those are riding in a car at the time.
Here are some other stats he cited:
- 70% of those who listen to audio books agree with me—they say NO to abridged books.
- CDs still account for 70% of the sales.
- Even though downloading to an MP3 is easy and cheap, the majority of audio book fans have not yet invested in the IPod or other player.
- The fastest growing part of the industry is in downloadable, rather than on disc.
- The 18 to 24 age cohort is growing faster than any other buyer of audio books.
- The preferred genres are mystery, thriller and comedy.
- People prefer to transfer sound files to CDs rather than MP3.
- A normal-size book might take 20 hours instead of 3 minutes on MP3.
- Lowe thinks this may change, particularly with built-in MP3 players in cars.
How do you listen to books? Do you buy, rent or download? Join the conversation.