In researching the topic on audio books, I discovered that many people prefer to listen to certain books rather than reading them. For busy people who have long commutes to and from work, audio books are the perfect solution for consuming information on the road or listening to a favorite novel or science fiction fantasy. And of course, for people without the ability sight (or those with limited vision), audio books are excellent vehicles to use in opening the world of literature in the audible format. Their inner literary universe is greatly enhanced with the voice activation of audio books.

Over time, Audio have grown in popularity, starting out as books on cassettes and then moving to the CD which became available to the general public approximately three decades ago, mostly in libraries or by subscription. Later, bookstores began stocking the audio book, taking up a shelf or two. By the late 1990s, things really began to change as the big retailers started  featuring whole walls of audio books. Fast forward to today and the rapid growth of the "DIGITAL AGE" and downloads, and we are clearly in the midst of a new era in the production and consumption of this new medium.

Here are some numbers and technological factors that will continue to drive the growth in audio books: (1) the audio book industry is  currently estimated to be worth $1.2 billion and growing, thus it is a billion-dollar industry with huge annual sales growth. (2) one of the technological factors driving this growth is the smartphone, which makes an audio book a very portable medium. (3) In writing for the Wall Street Journal, author Alexandra Alter states that the audio surge is changing the very way people read, "creating a new breed of literary omnivores who see narrated books and text as interchangeable."  (4) there is a growing audience of people who are stating that they can "retain and relate to information better when it is presented in audio."

Here are some comments and excerpts by people who are enjoying audio books:

"I love audiobooks! I walk 7 to 8 miles a day, listening to wonderful books; it keeps me completely entertained and keeps me physically fit. What could be better?!"

"My two favorite loves are reading and quilting. With audio books I am able to do both at once! Utilizing my library enables me to download the audio book and then when it is due, it magically disappears from my computer! No late fees."

"One gentleman who is a lifelong bookworm, managed to read only four books last year, however, he listened to 54 books, all unabridged."

"People are listening to audio books in the car, eating lunch, doing the dishes, sitting in doctors' offices or waiting for appointments."

And think of the many people out there who are not readers, and don't normally find themselves picking up a book. However, they may find themselves getting very absorbed in an audio book. My point in all of this discussion is that we are not looking at a FAD that will away by next year. This is the beginning of a major trend which will continue to grow exponentially for the rest of this century.

In addition, for those of us who would like to SEE our science fiction publications ultimately developed into films, the audio version (if handled correctly) is the closest thing to experiencing what your project would be like in an actual visual production. Another thing that a science fiction writer should keep in mind, is that the audio version of a publication could represent the first step towards developing a film adaptation of the a book. Taking the time to develop a great audio version of a publication and sending it to potential independent filmmakers for review, could build a stronger case for a deal and a film production.

Khafra K Om-Ra-Seti
KMT Publications

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