Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Find Top Quality FREE Audiobooks

by: Steve J Cowan

Audiobooks have, over the past few years, become an amazing success story, even though the recording of the spoken word, as opposed to music, has been around for over 100 years.

Indeed, it is fair to say that audiobooks have really brought the recorded spoken word into the public consciousness, even though a substantial portion of our cultural heritage from the last century is already recorded in enormous collections of spoken word materials.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of these historical audio tracts are hidden away in private collections, museums and so on, representing huge quantities of priceless historical artifacts that are currently unavailable to academics, scholars and the like.

Nevertheless, audiobooks have brought spoken word recordings to the attention of the audio loving public over the past few years, so, why have they become so popular, and why now?

Answering that, the wrong way around, 'why now' can be answered with two simple words - mp3’s and the internet.

Mp3 recording technology is only 30 years old, but it began to revolutionize worldwide listening practices almost as soon as it was invented, simply because it reduced massive digital sound files down to manageable levels.

Generally, mp3 files are twelve times smaller than other audio and video file types, because they get rid of all the sounds from the original recording that are beyond human hearing.

The internet is a perfect tool for working with these mp3’s, allowing anyone with a connection to instantly download mp3 files, and then play them back on their PC, on a mobile mp3 player or on a standard CD, after the mp3 is burned on to it.

Of course, all of the above applies equally well to music or to audiobooks, so why the current boom in audiobooks?

Well, audiobooks have many in-built advantages over their written page counterparts. Some of these advantages are:

• They take up no space on your shelves or in your home. Perhaps an important factor at a time when average living spaces are gradually becoming smaller.

• They have no weight or bulk. An audiobook is nothing more than a digital file, so that you can conveniently carry it around with you on a mobile mp3 or CD player.

• They are not easily damaged. There are no pages to be ripped or worn out.

• They allow you to 'multi-task', which is becoming an ever more important requirement of every day life. You can dig the garden, walk the dog, and go to the mall, all whilst listening to an audiobook.

Effectively, an audiobook offers all of the advantages and benefits of a written word book such as being able to improve oneself through further education, or to catch up with literary classics that you somehow missed, all without the downsides of a large, bulky book

Another great advantage of audiobooks, and perhaps the best reason for the current audiobook explosion, is that there are lots of sources to find completely free books all over the internet.

Compare that to your local book store. When was the last time they gave you something for free?

By simply running a search through any of the major search engines, you would be able to turn up many, many sites giving away free audiobooks. Obviously, this ability to get free samples before deciding whether to invest you’re hard earned cash in audiobooks is a major plus point.

There are, however, two points to draw to your attention about many of the free audiobook download sites.

First, many of the sites offer the audiobooks for free for one reason. The quality of the recording and (often) the reading is so poor that no-one would ever consider paying for it!

Second, many of the texts that are read to create these audiobooks are open source works, meaning that there either never was a copyright on the title, or that it has expired. In either case, we are talking about a very old works that are usually very average indeed (otherwise, they would have a value, and still be copyrighted!)!

Audiobooks are definitely something that you should try if you have not already done so, especially as you can get great quality titles for free.

But, just make sure to look for good quality audiobooks for your first taster of exactly what they have to offer, and you cannot go far wrong.