A Beginner's Guide to Audiobooks
A Very Brief Overview of the History of Audiobooks
To begin at the beginning.........
For thousands of years audiobooks or audio-books or audio books, were, for most people, the only kind of book there was. This was known as the oral tradition. Stories would be passed from generation to generation and changed over time as they were handed down. Then came writing and ultimately books. This meant that stories could be repeated over time in a pretty similar fashion. With the development of the printing press people such as you and I would be able to own the books that other wise we would have had to see in libraries. As technology developed audio recordings became possible. A great example of these early recordings is to be found here - BBUCIDACD08880 and here - BBUCIDACD08795
We even have a very rare, very early recording from 1890 of a great Shakespearean actor here - BBUCIDACD13870
As things went on we see that cylinders turned to records and records turned to tapes, also known as compact cassettes. Tapes were then superseded by Audio CDs and more recently MP3 CDs.
Audio CD, MP3 CD or Cassette
For many of us there is no choice. Access to the respective players can restrict our choices. It is important to say that just because Audio CDs came after Cassettes they are by no means perfect. So, depending on what you wish to listen to, a cassette player may be a necessary purchase.
Audio CDs have the advantage of portability, compatibility with widely available players and high quality of sound.
The disadvantages of Audio CDs include the physical sensitivity to damage. Skipping can be a problem caused both by the disks and by the optical sensor used in the players to read the disks.
We currently offer a total of over 5000 audiobooks on Audio CD.
MP3 CDs started appearing from manufacturers in the middle of 2000s. The advantage of these disks is their ability to hold large amounts of audio data. This means that where one normal Audio CD can hold a maximum of 79 mins these MP3 CDs can hold up to 900 mins per disk.
The downside of this technology is that it requires a special player, or specially enabled normal CD player, to access the audio. Of course you can also play these MP3 CDs on a PC or Laptop CD/DVD drive. In fact with recent developments in Audio CD players the majority of recently manufactured players will be MP3 CD enabled. If you are in any doubt please check with the seller of the player or contact us and we will help as much as we can. We currently hold over 1000 on MP3 CD.
Cassettes have the advantage of Longevity, Resistance to Damage and Sufficiently high quality sound.
The disadvantages of Cassettes include deterioration over time, where over 20-30 years, sound issues can develop as the tape loses it's ability to retain magnetic information. Also tape players can damage perfectly good tapes due to mechanism wear and a lack of maintenance.
We currently offer a total of over 1700 audiobooks on Cassette.
Abridged or Unabridged
The Whole Story or The Highlights
Once you have selected your technology the next key choice is how much time do you have to listen to your book?
When every single word of the book is needed. When time is not an issue and completeness is essential then Unabridged is the only way to go.
We currently offer a over 4000 Unabridged audiobooks on Audio CD and 900 on MP3 CD and Over 1100 Unabridged audiobooks on Cassette.
When time is of the essence. When, due to other commitments or so much to get through, it is more than enough to get the book in smaller chunks then Abridged is the way to go.
We currently offer a over 1000 Abridged audiobooks on Audio CD and 10 MP3 CD and Over 500 Abridged audiobooks on Cassette.
This takes us up to the present day with one, rather large, omission.
We at Brainfood Audiobooks sometimes refer to the elephant in the room as Audible, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon, (and all it's audiobook download partners). We do hope that, as the Kindle and various other electronic books have diminished in popularity after the initial hype, Audible and the many other download providers, will reduce their vice-like control of the new audiobook marketplace and give their customers something a little more tangible for their money. Until that day we will continue to laud the wonderful virtues of real (physical) audiobooks.
So Where Do We Start?
You'll be happy to hear that you've already started! Your quest now is to select from the many 1000s of titles which one, or few, should be nearing the top of your list.
We at Brainfood Audiobooks have taken a lot of time thinking about what makes an audiobook great. In the end it is considerably more difficult than choosing a paper-based book. The relationship between the book (text) and the Performer (what we like to call the Narrator or Reader) takes us back to an experience much like that of our ancestors many thousands of years ago. Each different Performer would tell the story differently and that is so true even today. One performer can, through their use of tone and pacing, fill the whole room with different characters. Then, depending on the structure of the narrative, whether the story runs from beginning to end or keeps hoping about in time, the best Performers help the listener to make sense of what they are hearing.
After listening to audiobooks for over 30 years where do we suggest you dip your toes?
Using our experience, and many suggestions from our wonderful Customers, we compiled a list of books that have consistently appealed to a wide range of our listeners. You will find these books, with The Stamp of Genius, below.
You can rest assured that these are some of the greatest audiobooks to have ever been produced.
A book from this list is, as near as possible, guaranteed to be great!