The advent of the audiobook, and in particular the more recent development of digital download, has transformed the lives of many people. For many years the medium was widely regarded (often rather patronisingly) as a convenience for the visually impaired, forgetting that EVERYBODY listened to (and loved) the radio! Even now, occasionally, I come across this ill-educated view – and I normally respond by saying that ‘Yes – in the same way that printed books are for the hard of hearing.’
What they seem to have forgotten is that for centuries, for millions, the spoken word was the principal medium for ‘books’ of all kinds – from the Buddhist Pali Canon and the Bible to Jane Austen and Dickens. People sat around on those long winter evenings while one person read to them. It is actually a very pleasant experience to be read to, especially when the reader is accomplished.