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Audiobooks: Where They Came From, How They Have Improved, and How They Benefit Us Today.
Many people worldwide listen to audiobooks on their smartphones, on cassette tapes, and on CDs. Although most people have heard of or used audiobooks before, few know where they originated. According to PBS.org, in 1932, the American Foundation for the Blind founded a recording studio where they recorded audiobooks on record. There was only about thirty minutes of speech on the first recorded audiobooks. The next year, Congress passed a law allowing the A.F.B. to produce audiobooks. In 1955, the Listening Library began distributing audiobooks. Over the next few decades, as new devices on which sound could be recorded were invented, bookstores began creating audiobook sections as well as libraries, and publishing companies opened audiobook divisions.
By the late 1990s, people could download audiobooks onto their desktop computers. Today, you can go to your local library and check out audiobooks on CD. You can download them on your computer, smartphone, or use cassette tapes. You can even listen to audiobooks on Amazon Echo or Google Home at home. These days there are many ways to access these books, and while in the beginning the only audiobooks were the classics that most people have heard of, today there is a wide variety of audiobooks to choose from in any genre with titles that are unfamiliar written by authors that people have never heard of. Some examples of eBooks sites are as follows:
- Google Play Books
- Walmart Audiobooks
- Libby Overdrive
An important question to ask about audiobooks is do you understand better when you read a physical book or listen to an audiobook? If you are a visual learner, you will be more focused when you read a book. If you are an auditory learner, you will comprehend a story better when you listen to it. I prefer audiobooks if the reader speaks at just the right pace. If a reader is too fast, I cannot understand what he/she is saying. If a reader is too slow, it bores me to sleep. Whether or not you enjoy listening to audiobooks or prefer it to physical books depends on your learning style, the book you are reading or listening to, and the narrator’s voice.
It is unlikely that audiobooks will ever become unpopular. People may read them from different devices, but that does not mean they are going away anytime soon. People may not listen to audiobooks on cassette tapes or CDs as much as they listen to audiobooks on smartphones, but that does not make them any less popular.
There are different purposes for listening to audiobooks. Reading audiobooks can help you better understand what you are reading, improve your listening skills, listen to books that are advanced, hear books the way they should be read by professional narrators, and step outside of genres you are used to. They can also expand your vocabulary and introduce you to different styles of literature. Listening to audiobooks can also teach readers through narrators’ voices about different accents or dialects.
Audiobooks are an excellent way for blind and visually impaired readers to enjoy books that they would otherwise spend months trying to read with a magnifier or would take up too much space. Books like the Harry Potter series, the Bible, War and Peace, and Shakespeare’s plays would come in more than ten volumes and would be difficult to move around. Books on CD and smartphones are easier to carry around and do not take up as much space as Braille volumes. Everyone should read audiobooks because they can understand more when they listen to the narrator. Of course, this depends on whether a person can understand the narrator, but most narrators’ voices clearly pronounce words. When I was reading the Harry Potter series, I skipped the third book because the vision teacher could not find a Braille version. Later that year, I went to the library and found the third book, The Prisoner of Azkaban. I could understand it much better than the others because someone was reading aloud. I prefer reading aloud to silent reading because I believe that is the way books should be read. Many stories have been passed down by someone telling them, not someone writing them. That is why every print book should also have an audio version in some form. This would allow blind and visually impaired people to have access to the same books that sighted readers can read.
In my opinion, the best form of an audiobook is on a smartphone because it takes up the least space. Even if you carry around CD versions of books, which are easier to move around than Braille volumes, nine or ten CDs is still a lot of books. Downloading an audiobook app on your phone may take up space on the phone, but not physical space. I hope more people around the world can enjoy audiobooks in the future.