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Audiobooks – A Brief History of Spoken Word Audio books

Downloadable audiobooks are one of the most exiting growth areas of the Internet and every week sees new publishers and big name title audio books being released. They're fantastic for education as well as pleasure "reading". But where did they come from? What were the first titles and can you still get them?

What you'll read:

* When do you think audiobooks started? * Why Audiobooks have become so popular recently? * So when were audiobooks "invented" * Who were the first audio book publishers? * The 3 reasons why audiobooks have exploded. * Where to find "original" audiobooks

* When do you think audiobooks started?: Do audiobooks seem pretty recent to you? I can just about remember "the first" audiobooks on cassette being around in the mid 80s. Then again I'm really old so maybe your first memory is more recent!

I recall some really huge box sets for things like lord of the Rings (sold on ebay...wish I hadn't!) and they were abridged (abridged means significantly cut in length for whatever reason)

Since then there's been an explosion in the audiobook market. For millions of people, along with mp3 music, audiobooks are part and parcel of the Internet. Yet another one of many ways to get and digest information for fun or practical purposes!

* Why Audiobooks have become so popular recently?: Using myself as an example: Once I realized just how good they were for certain things there was no stopping me -

* They're excellent for learning. Be it business, motivation, or in my own case right now, learning Swedish (audiobooks are brilliant for language training).

* They're great for kids learning to by all accounts but I can't give you my own experience there as I'm 36!

* Great for pleasure "reading! For fiction when normal books would be impossible, (e.g., in the dark or when driving or working out) or you just want the book pushed "into" you rather than having to absorb though your eyes.

* So when were audiobooks "invented": Around the early 1980s maybe? No.

With the current focus on audiobook CDs, DVD, downloadable WMA, MP3s, iPods etc you may think they're very recent. But you'd be wrong. Audiobooks started many years ago.

To understand this it's important to define exactly what an audio book is.

* Basically audio books are simply books that are recorded to be heard, instead of read.

* So have they been around for as long as recording has been possible?

Not quite. To be more specific, it's safe to say they were first introduced just over 50 years ago. That is in terms of being available outside of professional broadcasting circles.

* Who were the first audio book publishers?: Robin Whitten, the editor and founder of the only magazine which is dedicated solely to the audio book industry credits Caedmon (now a subsidiary of Harper Collins Publishers) as having started recordings of literature as far back as 50 years ago.

He tells us that Caedmon, at that time a small company in New York, started recording the audio of great authors and poets of the 1950s. Specifically, he said some of the earliest recordings were by greats such as Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot, Fitzgerald and Robert Frost.

At this time they were simply recorded while doing their own works and made as vinyl records. Not exactly great for jogging but these early recordings can arguably be defined as the first collection of audio books.

However, the transition of these book recordings into audiocassette tapes didn't happen until the late 1970s up to the 1980s when we see the market size, first in audio cassette, growing until accepted by the more "sophisticated" early adopter profile consumer.

The audio book phenomenon though didn't really kick off until the mid to late 1990s.

* The 3 reasons why audiobooks have exploded:

Not surprisingly, as with so many technology related products:

1) Ease of use/Quality: Vinyl - Limited on use. Try playing one in a commuter train or while driving. Err no. Oops scratched it, damn it's ruined etc.

Tape cassettes - Total pain, limited storage and they self destructed with alarming regularity.

Early portable CD players were't actually all that portable – If you had one and ever moved to sharply while using it you'll know what I mwean!

Now with mp3 players & ipods there are no moving parts so you can listen when working out, running or anything else where a CD player would be useless. You can even get mp3 players built into sunglasses (Oakley) that are designed specifically for hardcore sports training!

2) Cost: Early CD players and later, MP3 players were very expensive. Car CD units, wow they really did cost a lot!

But now CD players of all types and MP3 players have become so cheap that the hardware cost barrier has disappeared.

3) Ease of "Delivery" With broadband internet becoming the norm it has become super easy to get audiobooks "anytime –anyplace – anywhere" 100 meg download, no problem!

* Where to find "original" audiobooks: And if you want original audiobooks – Can you get them? If you are still interested in "going back in time" you can get the original book recordings that started this audio book industry.

Some of those early 1950s analog recordings by Caedmon which were performed by the greats of those days can be bought online.

You can find that classic you have always dreamt of in audio book format if you search hard enough on the Internet where you'll find audiobooks of a size, quality and sophistication that would have been seen as science fiction even 15 years ago!

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About The Author: Nick shares time between the UK & Sweden where he lives with his fiancé Lena & goes fishing (not as much as he wants!) He runs a 6000+ title downloadable audio book website. Check it out for loads of free & really cheap best sellers plus a high paying audiobook affiliate program that all nice websites are invited to join!

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