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The History, Advantages, and Disadvantages of Audiobooks

The History, Advantages, and Disadvantages of Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a convenient option for people who are not too fond of reading. Learn about the inception of this brilliant form of reading books, and ups and downs of such an invention.
Uttara Manohar
If you are one of those people who simply don't want to read, then audiobooks are just the right thing for you. How about curling up in the bed listening to your audiobook? Well, audiobooks have been a revolution in the book-publishing sector with almost every classic book now available in an audio format.

History of Audiobooks

The idea of audiobooks originated in 1931 with the advent of the Books for the Adult Blind Project aimed at helping blind adults. The first audiobook series was published in 1932. In the year 1935, as a part of taking the same project further, Congress approved free mailings of audiobooks to blind citizens. Advancement in technology and the invention of portable cassette recorders had audiobooks gaining popularity; by the late 1960s libraries also included these in their collections, primarily on vinyl records but also on cassettes. Although earlier audiobooks consisted of educational recordings, soon audiobook collections had self-help tapes and literature as well. In 1970, a company called Books on Tape Corporation started rental plans for the distribution of audiobooks.

By the year 1992 the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped network had circulated millions of audiobooks to more than 700,000 handicapped listeners. Today, with the advantage of compact discs and the rising influence of the Internet, audiobooks have become a very convenient source of information as well as entertainment that can be shared over the Internet by downloading, or even peer-to-peer sharing. Another trend that is catching up is paperbacks being sold with a copy of the audiobook CD, which has increased the popularity of these audiobooks. Today audiobooks are sold either on compact discs, cassette tapes, or even digital formats like mp3 and wma.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Audiobooks

An audiobook provides the audience the convenience of gaining information without reading it. Also, replaying a particular part that was not comprehensible is an added feature that is of great importance in audiobooks. These books allow listeners to listen to selected segments of a book and even repeat the segments for better understanding. People who listen to audiobooks while reading the actual book can learn words that they might not comprehend while only reading the book.

Audiobooks are a source of great help while taking notes as well, since you can pause, play, and even control the speed of reading to help you fathom the meaning, and take sufficient notes. A dialog or a conversation in a book can be better comprehended in the audio format due to the voice modulations and other vocal cues. Perhaps the biggest and only disadvantage of audiobooks is that they spoil the fun of the good old-fashioned habit of reading actual books. Audiobooks do not encourage children to read, but instead provide an easy option for reading, which is bad since reading is a habit that can be very enriching if inculcated at a young age.

There are millions of audiobooks ranging from biographies and autobiographies to health, humor, poetry, mystery, music, or any other subject under the sun that you can listen to. So the next time you don't feel like reading, try listening to an audiobook! You might just like the idea.