Books have been traditionally associated with the print medium, whereas audiobooks utilize voice recordings to tell a story instead. What has a change in our device-bubble resulted in? We take a look at the history of audiobooks and why they are becoming increasingly popular today.
The creation of audio recording technology can be traced back to the late 19th Century with Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph, an instrument that utilizes purely mechanical means to archive and reproduce sound on etched discs. Fast-forwarding to the present, digital mediums have become the norm instead. With handphones and audio players, it is now possible to enjoy both compact storage and instantaneous playback. This improvement is largely due to the lack of bulky storage mediums common to their predecessors (e.g. CDs, cassette, and records).
Similarly, books have also seen an evolution in their appearance: from tangible print form to the virtualized formats of e-books. Taking this electronic transformation to the next step are audiobooks which rely on sound, rather than sight to convey their narrative to “readers”. In addition, by taking advantage of the shift to compressed digital storage formats and smaller devices, audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular as easily portable substitutes to their physical, textual counterparts.
In any case, one can safely say that audiobooks are not dying and will remain a viable literary format in the years to come. Here are some reasons why this is so:
Love Multitasking? Get an Audiobook.
Like listening to music when you workout? Or tuning into radio broadcasts while driving? Then audiobooks are your best option for accessing literary content while multitasking. Providing hands-free entertainment on the go, audiobooks do not necessarily demand a listener’s full attention and can prove helpful for individuals who do not have the luxury of leisure time. A full-time salaryman or a homemaker with three children can easily enjoy his/her favourite piece of literature, even while engaged in day-to-day tasks.
In the same vein, audiobooks can serve to alleviate the boredom of tedious tasks, such as daily chores or long journeys. Not only do they provide a form of escapism through storytelling, audiobooks can seemingly allow listeners to pass their time faster through engaging their imagination. For instance, sitting through a lengthy roadtrip while listening to J.R.R. Tolkien’s reading of “The Lord of the Rings” would be a tolerable (or even epic) affair.
Learning Differently With Audiobooks
Since the invention of the printing press and the mass production of books in the 1400s, reading has been widely adopted as the gold standard of learning. Compared to tales passed down via oral traditions, printed texts do not run the risk of distortion from a lack of context or from miscommunication. In other words, they represent a (comparably) permanent and consistent way of transmitting information to future generations.
However, things have come full circle with modern-day audio recording and storage technology; not only have the aforementioned difficulties been overcome, audio files have also proven to be more convenient to access and bring around compared to their hardcopy cousins. More importantly, what this represents for education is the emergence of a reliable supplement or alternative to text-based learning.
This can prove to be beneficial for parents and children alike, as audio books offer a number of advantages in terms of intellectual and character development. For instance, reading aloud to voice recordings can help broaden a child’s vocabulary while improving his/her pronunciation capabilities. Listening to lengthier audio books can also aid in instilling discipline and help develop a child’s ability to focus on tasks.
Hassle-Free Content Access
Apart from offering multi-tasking and learning opportunities, the use of audiobooks also represents a shift to fuss-free content access. With a working Internet connection, lovers of audiobooks are able to download as many titles as they wish, at anywhere and from anywhere. Websites such as Audiobooks.com and librivox.org offer free downloads or samples of popular books. These include works by New York Times bestsellers, such as Kristin Hannah’s “Nightingale” and Sandra Brown’s “Friction”.
The process of downloading or streaming from a digital library is also a straightforward affair: simply click on your preferred title and hit play. Moreover, there are cross-device applications which allow listeners to pick up where they left off on any gadget – be it a laptop, smartphone or tablet, users are able to keep track of their progress with ease.
To sum it up, by embracing the technological changes of the 21st Century, audiobooks have become much less of a rarity – but an increasingly viable format for literary enthusiasts due to their distinct advantages over printed materials.
Written by: (www.script.com.sg) Edited & Illustrated by: Script Consultants Pte Ltd