The original audio books were only available on audio cassette and for the benefit of younger readers, the audio cassette was a magnetic tape sound recording format. Here is a picture of an audio cassette courtesy of wikimedia.org.
For more information on cassettes see the Wikipedia resource link at the end of this blog post.
Audio books on cassette tape required turning over midway as each side was typically 30 minutes. Not a format I was particularly fond of.
CD Audio Books
Audio Book CD format is a vast improvement lasting up to 74 minutes and at digital quality standard. However, you will find that some large CD audio books run across many CD’s, the biggest I produced was a total of 13 CD’s.
Also, it does require that you sit listening to it on your home stereo system or your car CD player. I suppose you could also listen to audio books on CD Walkman, although I am not sure many people use these in 2009.
MP3 Audio Books
MP3 players have revolutionised audio consumption and mp3 audio books are my favourite. Most inexpensive players can easily hold a high quality audio book that you can listen to anywhere. Additionally, the mp3 format is flexible and can be played on most computers and mp3 players, including iPods.
MP3 audio books are easily available to download and can also be sold as an MP3 CD. This is basically a CD ROM that contains the whole audio book in a folder. Unlike a CD audio book, you don’t have to keep changing CD’s to listen to the whole book. The MP3 CD saves me lots of time and is my second favourite format.
If I do have to buy audio books on audio CD, the first thing I do is convert the files to mp3 and add them to my MP3 player so that I can listen whilst on the move.
My favourite little MP3 player is the Sansa Clip from Amazon – click here to see a selection of Sansa Clip MP3 Players
iPod Audio Book format
This format provides one or two benefits over mp3 audio books, in the fact that chapters can be saved as a single audio book file, whereas mp3 chapters tend to arrive as many separate files. Despite the benefits, I don’t like this format as it restricts you to using an iPod and most MP3 players don’t play the .m4b format that is used by audio books downloaded from the Apple iTunes store.
Audible Audio Books Format
I am a subscriber to Audible UK as they seem to be the only serious downloadable audio book seller that I am aware of in the UK; however, I am not a fan of their proprietary format .aa.
This format was created by them to stop file sharing using strict DRM (Digital Rights Management). Without going off topic, DRM in my opinion hinders the honest buyers of audiobooks and music as it makes the file unplayable until you verify your account. I could share many stories about DRM validating errors and know numerous people who have bought files that they can no longer play… but that’s another topic altogether.
Needless to say, Audible’s audio book format is my least favourite, but until a better option comes around, I will stick with it, plus they do have one of the UK’s largest selections of audio books online.
Are you an author or publisher looking to transform your book into an audio book?… Click here to find out more about our audio book recording and production services
I am always interested in hearing your views and opinions so please feel free to add your comments below. 🙂