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Encyclopedia > Audiobook
Cassette recording of Patrick O'Brian's The Mauritius Command done by Patrick Tull
Cassette recording of Patrick O'Brian's The Mauritius Command done by Patrick Tull

An audiobook is a recording that is primarily of the spoken word as opposed to music. While it is often based on a recording of commercially available printed material, this is not always the case; nor is this required to fit the definition of an audiobook, which is why "audiobook" is one word rather than two. It was not intended to be descriptive of the word "book" but is rather a recorded spoken program in its own right and not necessarily an audio version of a book. Image File history File links Gnome-globe. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2272x1704, 796 KB) Summary Photo by James Anatidae of a audio cassette of a recording of The Mauritius Command by Patrick OBrian. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2272x1704, 796 KB) Summary Photo by James Anatidae of a audio cassette of a recording of The Mauritius Command by Patrick OBrian. ... Patrick OBrian (12 December 1914 – 2 January 2000; born as Richard Patrick Russ) was an English novelist and translator, best known for his Aubrey–Maturin series of novels set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and centered on the friendship of Captain Jack Aubrey and the Irish... The Aubrey–Maturin series, also known as the Aubreyad,[1] consists of a sequence of 20 completed and one unfinished historical novels by Patrick OBrian, set during the Napoleonic Wars and centering on the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy and his ships surgeon Stephen... Patrick Tull (born 28 July 1941) is a stage, film, and television actor. ...

Spoken audio was originally primarily available in school and public libraries and to a lesser extent in music shops. It was not until the 1980's that there began a concerted effort to attract book retailers. As book publishers entered the field of spoken-word publishing, the transition to book retailers carrying audiobooks became commonplace on bookshelves rather than in separate displays.



Audiobooks are usually distributed on CDs, cassette tapes, downloadable digital formats (e.g., MP3 and Windows Media Audio) and, most recently, some preloaded digital formats (e.g., Playaway). CD redirects here. ... For the meaning of cassette in genetics, see cassette (genetics). ... For other uses, see MP3 (disambiguation). ... Windows Media Audio (WMA) is an audio data compression technology developed by Microsoft. ... Playaway was a sister programme to Play School in the UK, aimed at slightly older children. ...

The term "books on tape" was frequently and erroneously used as a synonym for audiobooks when the majority of audiobooks (then called "spoken word audio") were available on cassette, but BOT was a company that actively attempted (often failing) to protect its company name from generic use. With cassette tapes no longer the dominant medium for audiobooks, this has become a non-issue.

In 2005 cassette-tape sales made up roughly 16% of the audiobook market,[1] with CD sales accounting for 74% of the market and downloadable audio books accounting for approximately 9%. In the United States, the most recent sales survey (performed by the Audio Publishers' Association in the summer of 2006 for the year 2005) estimated the industry to be worth 871 million US dollars. Current industry estimates are around two billion US dollars at retail value per year. The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States. ...

Most new popular titles put out by the audiobook publishers are available in audiobook format simultaneously with publication of the hardcover edition. The first example of this simultaneous publication was when Caedmon published the spoken recording of Norman Mailer's Ancient Evenings. There are more than 50,000 current titles on cassette, CD or digital format. Norman Kingsley Mailer (January 31, 1923 – November 10, 2007) was an American novelist, journalist, playwright, screenwriter, and film director. ...

Unabridged audiobooks are word for word readings of a book, while abridged audiobooks have text edited out by the abridger. Abridgements were initially necessary to keep down the running time, and therefore the cost and corresponding retail price, as the general consumer was getting introduced to audiobooks. With greater consumer acceptance, less consumer price resistance and higher per title sales for some pricing economy, more of the audiobook titles are now being released only as unabridged recordings. Audiobooks also come as fully dramatized versions of the printed book, sometimes calling upon a complete cast, music, and sound effects, though many consumers have indicated a preference for less music, multiple voices and sound effects. Each spring, the Audie Awards are given to the top nominees for performance and production in several genre categories. The Audie Awards (or Audies) are annually bestowed for outstanding audiobooks. ...

There are quite a few radio programs serializing books, sometimes read by the author or sometimes by an actor, with most of them on the BBC. Putting Books on the radio makes the audio book format cheaply available to a wide audience. ... For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ...


In 1931 the Congress established the talking-book program, which was intended to help blind adults who couldn’t read print. This program was called "Books for the Adult Blind Project." The American Foundation for the Blind developed the first talking books in 1932. One year later the first reproduction machine began the process of mass publishing. In 1933 anthropologist J.P. Harrington drove the length of North America to record oral histories of Native American tribes on aluminum discs using a car battery-powered turntable. Audiobooks preserve the oral tradition of storytelling that J.P. Harrington pursued many years ago.[2] By 1935, after Congress approved free mailings of audio books to blind citizens, the Books for the Adult Blind Project was in full operation. In 1992 the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) network circulated millions of recorded books to more than 700,000 handicapped listeners. All NLS recordings were created by professionals. Year 1933 (MCMXXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... John Peabody Harrington (1884-1961) was an American linguist and ethnologist and a specialist in the native peoples of California. ... Oral history is an account of something passed down by word of mouth from one generation to another. ... Tonearm redirects here. ... For the 2001 film, see Storytelling (film) Storytelling is the ancient art of conveying events in words, images, and sounds. ... The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail. ...

Though spoken recordings were already popular in 33-1/3 vinyl record format for schools and libraries into the early 1970's, the beginning of the trade acceptance of this medium can be traced to the introduction of the audio cassette and, most importantly, to the prevalence of these cassette players as standard equipment (rather than as options which older drivers did not choose) in imported (Japanese) automobiles, which became very popular during the oil crisis of 1979. Thereafter it was slow and steady going as consumers latched onto the experience and authors slowly accepted the medium. Into the early 1980's there were still many authors who refused to have their books created as audiobooks, so a good many of the audiobooks were original productions not based upon printed books.

With the development of portable cassette recorders, audiotapes had become very popular and by the late 1960s libraries became a source of free audiobooks, primarily on vinyl records but also on cassettes. Instructional and educational recordings came first, followed by self-help tapes and then by literature. In 1970 Books on Tape Corporation started rental plans for audio books distribution. The company expanded their services selling their products to libraries and audiobooks gained popularity. By the middle of 1980s the audio publishing business grew to several billion dollars a year in retail value. The new companies, Recorded Books and Chivers Audio Books, were not the first to develop integrated production teams and to work with professional actors. Caedmon was the first to have done this, while Nightingale Conant featured business and self-help authors reading their own works first on vinyl records and then on cassettes. [3]

The Audio Publishers Association was established in 1986 by six competitive companies who joined together to promote the consumer awareness of spoken word audio. In 1996 the Audio Publishers Association established the Audie Awards for audio books, which is equivalent to the Oscar for the talking books industry. The nominees are announced each year in January. The winners are announced at a gala banquet in the spring, usually in conjunction with BookExpo America. [4]

Invention of CDs added to the convenience and flexibility of listening. While music fans were quick to latch onto this new format, audiobook listeners were much slower, presumably caring less about technology and more about ease of use and bookmarking capability. Also, it was not until cassette players were replaced by CD players in most automobiles that this format eventually took hold.

With the advent of the Internet, broadband technologies, new compressed audio formats and portable MP3 players, the popularity of audio books has increased significantly. This growth was reflected with the advent of Audio book download subscription services. Meanwhile, the introduction of easy-to-use preloaded digital audio formats have kept audiobooks accessible to technophobes and the visually impaired, although the majority of consumers are neither: rather, they tend to be regular readers who desire to emulate reading when driving or otherwise occupied.

Use, distribution and popularity

The popularity of portable music players such as the iPod has made audiobooks more accessible to people for portable listening. This has led to an availability in the creation of free audiobooks from Librivox and similar projects such as FreeAudioBooks1 that take works from the public domain and enlist volunteers to read them. Audiobooks also can be created with text to speech software, although the quality of synthesised speech may suffer by comparison to voice talent recordings. Audiobooks in the private domain are also distributed online by for-profit companies such as Media Bay (which has since ceased operations), the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), Simply Audiobooks, Spoken Network, Naxos, Audioville, Bookstolistento and Audible.com, which in 2006 generated $82.2 million USD in revenue through sales of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word content.[5] iPod is a brand of portable media players designed and marketed by Apple and launched in October 2001. ... Librivox is a digital library of free public domain audio books, read by volunteers. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... Speech synthesis is the artificial production of human speech. ... Audible redirects here. ...

Audiobooks on cassette or CD are typically more expensive than their hardback equivalents due to the added expense of recording and the lack of the economy of scale in high "print" runs that are available in the publishing of printed books. Preloaded digital formats are similar in price to their CD counterparts. The audio content is preloaded on a small and simple player, which removes the need for a separate piece of technology such as a CD player or an MP3 player. Additionally, the content is static-state so it is protected from damage.

Downloadable audiobooks tend to cost slightly less than hardbacks but more than their paperback equivalents. For this reason, market penetration of audiobooks is substantially lower than for their printed counterparts despite the high market penetration of the hardware (MP3 and WMA players) and despite the massive market penetration achieved by audio music products. Given the elasticity of demand for audiobooks and the availability of cheaper alternatives, slow and steady growth in sales seems more likely than a mass market explosion. However, economics are on the side of downloadable audiobooks in the long run. They do not carry mass production costs, do not require storage of a large inventory, do not require physical packaging or transportation and do not face the problem of returns that add to the cost of printed books. It is possible that significant price reductions to customers, while cutting into per unit profit margins, will be offset by increased volumes of sales. This will increase absolute profits to the industry while bringing audiobooks to a wider public.

Some people believe that one of the factors holding back price competition is the fear that low-price audiobooks might simply take business away from more traditional forms of publishing. They believe that this is especially significant in the case of publishers who have interests in both print and audiobook publishing. However, other industry observers dispute this. Indeed, most major book publishers now actively participate in audiobook publishing and see it as a complement to their publishing operations.

Resellers of audiobooks, such as Audible, Simply Audiobooks, and Audio Editions Books on Cassette and CD, who acquire much of their content from major publishers, must price their content at such a level as to take account of their cost of goods as well as operating costs. On the other hand, audiobook sellers who sell their own content (like the BBC), those who publish solely in audiobook format (such as Blackstone Audio, Highbridge Audio, Brilliance Audio, etc) and "Long Tail" type audiobook publishers who publish lesser known authors (such as bookstolistento) have lower operating costs and can therefore sell at lower prices using a "lower-margin-higher-sales" business model. However, they still have to meet the costs of writer's royalties, performers fees and production facility costs. The shift from CDs and cassettes to downloadable audiobooks, whilst doing nothing to reduce initial recording and editing costs, creates further downward pressure on price, by removing some of the other costs, such as mass production, packaging and physical distribution.

Audiobooks have been used to teach children to read and to increase reading comprehension. They are also useful for the blind. The National Library of Congress in the U.S. and the CNIB Library in Canada provide free audiobook library services to the visually impaired; requested books are mailed out (at no cost) to clients. This article is about the visual condition. ... Construction of the Thomas Jefferson Building, from July 8, 1888 to May 15, 1894. ... CNIB is a nationwide, community-based, registered charity committed to research, public education and vision health for all Canadians. ...

About forty percent of all audiobook consumption occurs through public libraries, with the remainder served primarily through retail book stores. Library download programs are currently experiencing rapid growth (more than 5,000 public libraries offer free downloadable audio books). According to the National Endowment for the Arts' recent study, "Reading at Risk", audio book listening is one of very few "types" of reading that is increasing general literacy. The National Endowment for the Arts is a United States federally funded program that offers support and funding for projects that exhibit artistic excellence. ...

Self-help audiobooks

Audio books are also used for education. Self-help audio books range from public speaking to learning meditation. Their general goal, however, is always to develop one's skills to be happier and/or more successful in life. While some focus on a particular skill, others aim to change the listener's life entirely. Many of these self-help audio books can be purchased online. A modern day speaker addressing an audience through microphones Public speaking is the process of speaking to a group of people in a structured, deliberate manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain the listeners. ... For other senses of this word, see Meditation (disambiguation). ...

Listening practices

Audio books are considered a valuable learning tool because of their format. Unlike with traditional books, one can learn from an audiobook while doing other tasks, although it should be noted that this can detract from the primary task. Such multitasking is feasible when doing mechanical tasks that do not require much thought and have only little or no chance of an emergency arising. Such tasks include doing the laundry and exercising indoors, among others. The most popular general use of audiobooks by adults is when driving an automobile or as an alternative to radio. Many people listen as well just to relax or as they drift off into sleep.

Common practices include:

  • Replaying: Depending upon one's degree of attention and interest, it is often necessary to listen to segments of an audio book more than once to allow the material to be understood and retained satisfactorily. Replaying may be done immediately or after extended periods of time.
  • Learning: People may listen to an audio book (usually an unabridged one) while following along in an actual book. This helps them to learn words that they may not learn correctly if they were only to read the book.
  • Notetaking.

A mind map connects ideas together visually Notetaking is the practice of writing pieces of information, often in an informal or unstructured manner. ...


  1. ^ Audiopub.org statistics on audiobook sales
  2. ^ Audio Publishers Association Fact Sheet (also includes some historical perspective in the 1950s by Marianne Roney)
  3. ^ A Brief History of Audio Books
  4. ^ Audie Award
  5. ^ Audible Inc. 2006 Earnings Release

Image File history File links Question_book-3. ...

See also

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Gramophone record. ... Digital Accessible Information SYstem, or DAISY, is a format based on the W3C defined SGML applications XHTML 1. ... Librivox is a digital library of free public domain audio books, read by volunteers. ... The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail. ... Playaway was a sister programme to Play School in the UK, aimed at slightly older children. ... Radio drama is a form of audio storytelling broadcast on radio. ... Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D) is a non-profit nationwide volunteer organization. ...

External links

The Open Directory Project (ODP), also known as dmoz (from , its original domain name), is a multilingual open content directory of World Wide Web links owned by Netscape that is constructed and maintained by a community of volunteer editors. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Reading Online - Electronic Classroom: Web Watch - Audiobooks (1441 words)
Audiobooks have traditionally been used in schools by teachers of second-language learners, learning-disabled or -impaired students, and struggling readers or nonreaders.
Varley (2002) writes, “Uncertain whether audiobooks belong to the respectable world of books or the more dubious world of entertainment, elementary- and high-school teachers have often cast a fishy eye at them, and many have opted for the safe course of avoidance” (p.
Audiobooks have something to offer all of these students -- to meet them wherever they are and bring them along on a wondrous journey.
Learning with Audiobooks - Audio Bookshelf (797 words)
Audiobooks enrich a student's overall use of language and love of literature.
Audiobooks allow students to hear language, an activity essential for building vocabulary, stimulating imagination, increasing reading fluency and providing models of pronunciation, sentence structure and grammatical accuracy.
Audiobooks offer the competent and avid reader or gifted students individualized learning opportunities and expand the volume of their reading.
  More results at FactBites »



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