Years ago, when I lived in Mt. Washington, there was a shop down the hill called Books to Go that rented audiobooks. I delivered pizza still, so this was not a bad idea for me. Rent a cassette or a CD (MP3’s were still in their infancy, and I was still on dialup), and I could get a break from the increasingly stale classic rock I’d spent delivery nights listening to. (Had I been paying attention, I could have heard the future Mrs. Winter on WGRR late nights on weekends, but that’s a different story.)
Audio books were a godsend. I “read” more books than I normally would have because time spent behind the wheel of a car was time now spent listening to audio books. I went through all the Harry Potter books this way. (Jim Dale was an excellent reader, but I really wish I’d heard the Stephen Fry versions from Britain.) I also got through Stephen King’s mammoth Dreamcatcher, which was a monster in print.
I’ve just started getting into them again. In the ebook era, they’re a natural, and most ereaders will play an audio book now. Both Amazon and iTunes even give access to Audible.com accounts. And my library allows downloads that you can burn to CD and dump onto your iPod, both requirements for me. Plus there are the good ol’ CD’s you can check out. Right now, as I write this, I’m listening to Freakonomics while I’ll be listening to Packing for Mars by the time you read this.
I’ve thought about audio books a lot over the years. One of the problems with writing crime fiction is that I’ve always wanted either ex-Marillion lead singer Fish or former Dr. Who actor David Tennant to read something I’d written. Trouble is both men are Scottish and not known for their American accents. I write about American locales. Then I started toying with science fiction. My alter ego has yet to submit anything in that realm yet, but when your settings aren’t even on Earth, the only requirement for the audio version’s reader is to clearly speak English in a pleasing manner. A boy can dream once more.
The other thing I like about audio books is that they give me a break from talk radio. There’s only so much NPR you can handle, and WLW has gotten putridly partisan. Listening to Freakonomics or Michio Kaku or maybe a biography is a breath of fresh air.