I just finished my first audiobook. And it was an experience worth sharing:
I had been reading reviews and blog posts and tweets about Seth Godin's newest book, Linchpin. Went to a couple of bookshops on my way to work / home; it was not available. So I went to Amazon.com to order one. I was at Amazon after a long time, and was surprised to see the options available: Kindle (ebook download), hardcover, paperback, audio CD and audio download. Audio download looked like the fastest option so I checked it out. It took me to Audible.com – an Amazon company, where an audio download was being offered for just USD7.49 with a new membership! I signed up, paid the money, downloaded the book, and started listening to it right away! The benefits:
1. It's fast. I was listening to the book after just a few clicks in few minutes.
2. It's cheap. Book versions were USD13-25.
3. It's convenient. I copied the file to my iPhone to listen during my commute to and from work.
4. It's safe. A copy each on my computer, iPhone and backup is likely to last (damage-free) as long as I wish.
5. It takes no space. So less clutter. No worries about whether to keep, sell off, recycle or give-away.
6. It's environment-friendly. No paper, ink, chemicals.
7. It's comfortable. For someone who spends a lot of time in front of computers or books, this is a good break for the eyes. You can listen while standing, walking or lying down.
And the disadvantages:
1. You need technology – computer, Internet access, applications like iTunes, and power supply
2. You need a handheld device to maximize the use of audiobooks – iPhone, iPod or any other MP3 player
3. You need a credit card for online purchase
4. You can not share. I love giving away my books to someone who might enjoy / benefit. Most audiobooks can not be shared on multiple computers / accounts.
5. You can not refer as easily. I like to go back to particular passages in my favorite books for inspiration / information / sharing. In audiobooks, you can fast-forward to chapters but it's difficult to go to the exact passage you are looking for.
6. You can lose it easily – unless you have a good backup system.
7. You become anti-social. Your opportunities of interesting conversations with strangers greatly diminish if you go around with headphones in your ears.
On balance, I think it depends on your lifestyle, circumstances and even the kind of book you want to read. Please take a few minutes to share your views through comments: Have you tried an audiobook? If not, will you? What other pros and cons can you think of?