In praise of audiobooks

Read me a story!

As a child, I was extremely fortunate to have a mother who often read to me at home. At school too, I used to love when the teacher would spend a whole period reading aloud from a chapter book. I suppose that part of me never really grew up.

As an adult, I still enjoy the pleasure of listening to someone else read to me. Audiobooks allow me to drive, or wash dishes, or do laundry, while savouring a good novel or non-fiction book at the same time. I’ve enjoyed many more books this way than I would have had time to sit down and read otherwise.

The latest library gadget: Playaways

Our library has something new to offer to audiobook lovers like me. They’re called Playaways. Each one comes loaded with a prerecorded audiobook. All the user has to do is insert one AAA battery and plug in a pair of earbuds. (The library sells earbuds for $2 to patrons who don’t have their own.)

The player is easy to use—not too many buttons—and small enough to fit in one’s pocket. Playaways can be checked out for 3 weeks, just like books, and patrons can either browse the selection on the shelf or request titles from other branches (again, just like books).

Downloads still win in my books

Personally, my favourite method of listening to audiobooks is still on my iPhone. I’m a big fan of downloadLibrary, through which our library also offers a wide selection of downloadable audiobooks. My phone goes with me everywhere, so whether I’m in the car or doing chores around the house, I can carry my audiobooks with me. Of course, the same holds true for Playaways, which are also very portable.

The advantage of downloaded audiobooks is that I can get them instantly at home, without having to go to the library to check out a physical copy. I never have to worry about overdue fines either, since the files automatically expire after the loan period is over. Hence, I never have to make a mad dash to return them in the bookdrop either.

Books on CD take third place

As for my third favourite kind of audiobook we offer, books on CD were a great invention at first, but the only thing they have going for them now is the fact that we have a lot of them in our collection. To me, they are more inconvenient because I can only play them in my car or on my computer. This is fine when I am driving or sitting at my desk, but it gets a little cumbersome to carry my laptop with me when I am running up and down the stairs to check on a load of laundry.

I think Playaways are great for people like me who like to listen to audiobooks on the go, especially for those who aren’t able to download audiobooks or who don’t own an mp3 player. I, for one, am hoping that our library will continue to expand our collection of these neat little devices.

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