High-Tec devices, clearer displays, and the iPod phenomenon are set to make audio books best-sellers
Up to recently Audio books were occasional purchases. But fast forward to 2006, and audio books have grown into a huge market. The one drawback they have is that they are much more expensive than the ordinary printed version.
However, with downloadable audio books the good news is that they are far less expensive and are quickly developing into what is likely to become the book format of the 21st century. In fact, many experts are convinced that digital audio books, after plenty of false starts, are finally ready for takeoff.
Every other medium has already gone digital and books are now catching up with the technology. A revolution is around the corner. Books are being scanned into electronic form by the thousands.
That's all very well you might ask but, what kind of portable device and software do you need to be able to play and listen to these 'spoken word' or 'talking books', as they are often referred to?
Well there again, these days everything is much more user friendly. Write it down to the influence of Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL ). With its iPod, Apple has demonstrated that millions of people are willing to carry around digital devices with their favorite content. After music, why not novels and nonfiction? The iPod led the way in getting people comfortable with digital media.
Nowadays you can download digital audio books 24/7 to your PC and transfer them to your PDA and many MP3 players at home or in the office .And there's even speculation that Apple could come out with its own device, an iPod designed for books.
And many other big players in the book market sniff opportunity, too. Random House has announced plans to digitize 25,000 titles. Everything from novels to recipes out of a cookbook. HarperCollins Publishers Inc. - which has been in the audio book market since 1952, when Dylan Thomas first recorded for their Caedmon label. - says it will build a digital warehouse of its entire holdings -- another 25,000 titles or so -- which it may later sell over the Net.
Amazon.com is moving aggressively into digital books, too. It sells digital versions of most of its titles, available for instant download. It already offers shoppers a vast range of audio CDs.
So, it would appear that the stage is set for a new and exciting chapter in the audio books saga. It is estimated by industry specialists that by 2020, 50% of books will be in electronic form.The puzzle pieces are on the table. We've got the critical mass of content, and we've got attractive hardware. All we need now is an attractive business model that connects them all together.