But something changed in 2007 and I found myself with an audio book "in progress" just about all the time. In fact, I finished 18 audio books last year, some of them as long as twenty CDs and requiring well over twenty listening hours. My current drive to work is about twice as long as last year's (30 minutes now) and audio books continue to ease the boredom associated with that kind of repetitive driving.
This article from the Albany Times Union discusses an audience for audio books that I hadn't much considered: kids, kids who are learning to read, kids who are reluctant readers at best, and kids who are turned on by modern technology and feel that it's cool to use an audio book, especially one of the new Playaways that are becoming more and more common in public libraries.
At the Clifton Park Halfmoon Public Library in Clifton Park, librarians recently purchased 55 audio book players, known by the name brand Playaway, to keep up with growing demand by kids to listen to their favorite authors....
The Playaways look and function like a digital music player similar to an iPod. Only, instead of hundreds of songs, each device holds just one book, like the latest in the Harry Potter series or Phillip Pullman's "The Golden Compass." Listeners can skip through chapters by hitting a button in the same way that one might advance to the next track on a CD.
The circulation desk sells ear buds for $1, or patrons can use their own headphones.
Another benefit to the audio books is that they have become another product libraries can shelve that will draw in young people, increasing the chance that they will grow to value and use libraries as adults....
And for readers who might not be as enthusiastic about books as some of their peers, audio books can often spark interest for an exciting story that will lead to a love of books, said Cathy O'Connor, a librarian at the Schenectady County Public Library.Personally, I think that the Playaways are a bit overpriced for personal users but they make sense for public libraries where they will be listened to by dozens of different people. Hey, whatever helps make children enthusiastic about books and reading is great as for as I'm concerned, regardless of the expense.
In Schenectady, popular audio titles include Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series, Christopher Paolini's sword-and-dragon fantasies, and action titles by Anthony Horowitz.
"We'll see kids check out the audio books and the print version at the same time, and listen to them and read them together," O'Connor said. "It's especially good to have for reluctant readers, readers that may not be as facile with the written word."