I have a confession to make…I like audiobooks on cassettes. Years ago during an hour plus long commute each way, I would listen to a cassette or two just about every day of the week. I rarely thought about formats then. First, there weren’t a lot of options. Audiobooks were just coming out on CD and downloadable audiobooks were not on most people’s radar. CDs were expensive and rare finds at the library. More than that, cassettes were great…they were easy to use, didn’t scratch, skip and always kept your place! When audiobooks went to CD, I was constantly frustrated with issues that were rarely present with cassettes.
Years later, I am a happy listener again. I download most of the audiobooks I listen to. Downloaded audiobooks provide a level of stability, ease of use and enjoyability that is similar to what cassetes did. They are relatively inexpensive, they never scratch, rarely skip, and aren’t damaged by the sun. Admittedly, the process is more technical than popping a cassette in the car. Yes, there are software and formats to decide on, download and manage. However, considering the drawbacks that were present in the “physical” versions, I’d say we’re better off.
I can take audiobook books anywhere now. Instead of primarily listening on my commute, I’ve expanded my listening to work outs, house chores, hiking and arguments with my wife (kidding). Not only can I take audiobooks with me anywhere, but I can take a large selections of books, easily 50-100+ books depending on how much space I want to burn up on my device. If I download the apple native M4B version of the book (available at christianaudio.com) it will automatically add it to the audiobooks category on my player, making them easier to find amidst a large music playlist. M4B files support chaptering within files making it easier to organize your downloads and bookmarking so you don’t loose your place.
To sum up, if you’re still listening to cassettes, well, keep doing it. It’s a great format and you can get audiobooks dirt cheap that way. Chances are, though, like me you didn’t replace that cassette player in 2003 when it developed a healthy appetite for eating cassette tapes. If you listen to audiobooks on CD it may be time to upgrade to downloading, for the reasons above. You can start by picking up the free audiobook of the month at christianaudio.
One parting note: I still listen to audiobooks on CD, just a lot less often these days. Sometimes it is easier just to pop a CD in the car. Also, I like the fact that I can loan out audiobooks on CD. If you use the library, downloading digital audiobooks can be a major undertaking, ehm, hassle for most folks. Most books you get from the library will be on CD. I make a trip to our local library every once in a while to see what they have. Usually, not much. I don’t listen to much fiction and tried learning Chinese…once.
Cory Verner is the President and co-founder of christianaudio.