"Once I had a secret love ... my secret love's no secret, anymore." (from the movie Calamity Jane).
Well the secret is definitely out! Audio books are moving front and center in the publishing world. Check out this article at the Wall Street Journal, "Can You Hear Me Now? The New Explosion in Audio Books" for a discussion of what's going on in the audio world. Now that, in the words of Hachette Audio VP, Anthony Goffe, "Everybody has an audio book player in their pocket at this point" sales have taken off. In fact, Hachette has seen their sales go up over 30% in the past year.
Of course, not quite everyone has a smart phone, but we're getting there and the major audio book publishers as well as straight downloadable companies like Audible (part of the Amazon corporation) are taking full advantage. This is great news for libraries and lovers of audio books because higher demand is bringing prices down and expanding the list of available titles for downloadable audios and traditional CDs alike.
While the debate will go on about whether or not listening to a book is the same as reading it or better or worse, the fact remains that audio books are here to stay. Not just for the visually impaired, but also for the commuter, the treadmill user, the crafter, and the dozens of other reasons that people choose to listen rather than read.
Personally, I listen while I commute. Nothing to heavy, I've found there are certain books that require too much concentration to make good commuter fair. But in some cases I have found that listening to a book actually enhanced the experience. One recent title that comes to mind is Sutton by J R Moehringing. The print version was leaving me cold, the narration by Dylan Baker brought the book to life for me.
Haven't tried an audio book yet? You never know what you might like until you try.