The evolution of the book is catching up with technology at a higher speed. Less than a decade ago, the book was the main source of academic information. It was, therefore, the effort of every reader to read a book. The conventional reading style a decade ago was buying reading a book, page by page. However, with the advancement in technology, the book has evolved to very many controversial sources of information. According to Price (2012), the possibility of the print especially the book to survive has been threatened by the new age of technology which including video transmissions, cellular phones, computers networks, fax machines, recorders and cyberpunks among others. Of all the current technology that is a good example of the book evolving is the audiobooks. This essay discusses the current publishing industry events surrounding the audiobooks.
An audiobook is merely a recorded book on either a tape, CD or digital formats. Currently, the audiobooks have become the most preferable source of information as compared to a printed book. Fitzpatrick (2009) envisioned the planned obsolescence of the book. The book has been undergoing through multiple stages of evolution. The trend at which the book is evolving, its obsolescence is almost. The audiobooks are just one form of the evolution of the printed book. In the publishing industry, audiobooks are the major focus since they are revolutionizing the reading culture. The conventional culture that was set millions of years ago by the book is reading the book page by page. However, the audiobooks have come up with a new culture of listening. The dynamics brought about by the evolution of the reading culture from reading to listening have currently become the topic of discussion. The researchers are evaluating the reasons why people have suddenly shifted from the traditional books to audiobooks.
According to Maloney (2016), the sale of the audiobooks has drastically increased for the last two years in the United States and Canada. The sales in 2015 increased to 21% from the sales made in 2014. The same trend was witnessed in the first three months of 2016 where the sales of the audiobooks increased by 35.3% while the sales of hardcover dropped by 8.5% and the E-book dropped by 21.8%. The sudden rise has attracted the attention of the industry players who are trying to unravel the truth about audiobooks. Alter (2016) has noted that the surge in audiobooks sales is because of the people`s preference shifting from reading a book to listening to a book. In actual sense, reading a book has always been a problem to many people. Some of the people who hate reading argue that it tiresome to read a book. They have always found it difficult trying to make sense of a certain text in a book. Other haters of reading the book are just scared away by the size of the book. The big sizes of the books indicate that they contain a lot of content that must be understood through reading. The idea of thinking about reading a book just wears them off. Therefore, it is understandable why people have suddenly embraced listening to reading.
In 2011, Khazan (2011) weighed on the difference between listening to an audiobook to reading a book. One of the strange thing that Khazan (2011) realized was that today, people enjoy jumping from one chapter to the other which is similar to shuffling music on an iPod. This is one of the reasons that attract people to listening to an audiobook as opposed to reading. The people living in the globe today have evolved and they always looking for the simplest things. They don’t want to be bothered while trying to read a difficult term in a textbook or connecting two sentences of paragraphs while trying to get the meaning. The people who viewed reading as a hobby have drastically dropped and read is not a hobby to many again. In addition, the nature of work that many of the people in the population are engaged into is too much such that they find it difficult understanding what they read. Listening to an audiobook gives an individual who is tired but has interest reading to get the information. Listening to an audiobook is more consistent than reading a book. In most cases, a person becomes distracted by the slightest noise or something interesting when a reading a book and automatically the reader loses the flow of reading and understanding. On the other hand, a person listening to an audiobook is least distracted since he or she can only stop listening when the audio pauses. This is an indication that listening is quite favorable to reading. It is because of this unique advantage it has gotten a huge space in the current publishing industry. The current generation lives in a world that is technologically developed. The technology has led to the development of new interesting things such as the digital media which have the ability to interfere with the readers.
This shift of preference has seen the development of new business models and opportunities currently in the publishing industry. The publishing companies have been forced to catch up with the current technology which is the production of audiobooks. A closer look at the current publishing industry, the performance of the mainstream books which include the hardcovers and children books has declined. On the other hand, the digital era has opened a new market for the audiobooks. The new technology which has refined the digital era has led to the creation of many digital platforms where the audiobooks can be sold. Two major digital platforms are in use today. Buying or subscribing for copies and later downloading them, and streaming them online. According to Maynard (2015), the new technology especially the internet has led to the e-commerce business of the audiobooks become widespread. The current business model of the audiobooks in the publishing industry is a business to customer. The publishers can now directly sell the books to the customers without going through the middlemen such as bookshops and bookstores. The audiobook customers have increased due to the accessibility of the internet technology through their many devices. Today, almost every person in the United States has a smartphone that has the ability to access the internet, download a file and even stream an audiobook. Therefore, the audiobook market will continue to increase and expand day by day as the internet is spreading globally. The future of the audiobook market is bright and it is envisioned that almost all the mainstream book publishers will automatically shift to being the audiobook publishers.
Another rather interesting perspective that has gotten people talking today, is whether listening to a book is cheating. The debate seeking to find the answer has been going round in the media currently with many contributors voicing their perspective about the matter. Rothman (2016) argues that it depends on the type of information that one is trying to understand. If the information is less complicated, it is therefore not cheating when a listener just goes through the audiobook. However, the author states that it is cheating when someone chooses to listen than to read a book that has complicated information. Dahl (2016) echoes the same sentiments that audiobooks aren`t cheating but rather a form of helping readers encode easily. It is quite true that the most difficult part in reading is encoding the information from the book. The difficulties in encoding are witnessed when a person is unable to connect the meaning of the text that he or she is reading. The basis of reading a book is to understand its content. Therefore, a poor encoding will definitely lead to the misunderstanding of the book. In this regard, listening to an audiobook enables the listener to take the advantage of a voiced text that is easy to connect and understand. Therefore, it helps the listeners encode the meaning of the book. This leads to the conclusion that listening to the audiobooks cannot be termed as cheating (Maynard, 2016).
In conclusion, it is evident from the above analysis that the evolution of the book has come a long way. It has reached the stage of the audiobook which is the current trend in the publishing industry. The immense benefits which are consistent with the current technology and lifestyle have paved its way into the market.
ALTER, A. (2016). Audiobooks Turn More Readers Into Listeners as E-Books Slip. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 31 October 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/business/media/audiobooks-turn-more-readers-into-listeners-as-e-books-slip.html?_r=0
DahI, M. (2016). Relax, readers: Audiobooks aren’t ‘cheating’. CNN. Retrieved 31 October 2016, from http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/16/health/audiobooks-brain-cheating/
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. 2009. Introduction. In Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. Media Commons Press.
Khazan, O. (2011). Forbes Welcome. Forbes.com. Retrieved 31 October 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/olgakhazan/2011/09/12/is-listening-to-audio-books-really-the-same-as-reading/2/#3507dc9526c6
Price, Leah. Dead Again. New York Times 10 Aug 2012.
Maloney, J. (2016). The Fastest-Growing Format in Publishing: Audiobooks. WSJ. Retrieved 31 October 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fastest-growing-format-in-publishing-audiobooks-1469139910
Maynard, R. (2016). Is there a Future for Audiobooks?. Digital Publishing. Retrieved 31 October 2016, from https://digitalpublishing2015.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-future-for-audiobooks/
Rothman, D. (2016). Audiobooks: Are you ‘cheating’ if you listen rather than read traditionally?. Teleread.org. Retrieved 31 October 2016, from https://teleread.org/2016/08/14/audiobooks-are-you-cheating-if-you-listen-rather-than-read-traditionally/