Reading with my ears

Caitilin Punshon
As a child I loved being read stories. Now I listen to audiobooks. Audiobooks are a recording of someone reading a book out loud. The popularity of audiobooks has grown. People listen to them while driving or knitting. I listen to them when I can't sleep. They let me escape into another world. Most local libraries have audiobooks available. They can be borrowed as compact discs or on digital devices. Some libraries also allow them to be downloaded. The Melbourne Library Service does this. Anyone in Victoria can sign up to borrow eAudiobooks. Listening to audiobooks brings me enjoyment and relief..
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Caitilin Punshon on 13/06/2012
A close-up of a green ipod mini.

I listen to audiobooks on my iPod.

As a child, I loved being read stories. Now I'm an adult, I still like listening to stories. However, these days I do it by listening to an iPod or CD player. The stories I listen to today are audiobooks. I spend as much time reading with my ears as I do with my eyes.

Escaping into audiobooks

People who have difficulty reading printed material were once the main audience for audiobooks. Yet in recent years, the popularity of this kind of book has grown. Yvonne has been hooked on audiobooks since 2003. She first began listening to them while driving to work. Later she discovered the pleasures of listening while knitting.

Somehow the combination of watching my rhythmic knitting while being read to allows me to sink into the story, she says. At night I listen to audiobooks and knit. It's my all time favourite thing to do.

I have been known to listen to audiobooks while washing dishes. But mostly, I listen when I need to rest and can't get to sleep. With my eyes closed I can escape into the world created by the words I hear. If I get really absorbed in an audiobook I can almost forget where I am.

Accessing audiobooks

Audiobooks can be bought at bookshops and online. They can also be borrowed. Most local libraries offer audiobooks as either conventional or MP3 compact discs. Some also provide them on portable digital devices called playaways. These come with the audiobook already loaded on them. Borrowers just need to add a battery and some headphones.

Audiobooks can also be accessed through direct downloads. This involves using the internet to get a digital copy of your audiobook. Borrowers click on the relevant link. The book then downloads to the user's computer. Not all libraries have this facility. However, one place that does is the Melbourne Library Service.

Melbourne Library Service

The Melbourne Library Service has different types of memberships. This includes a cardless membership. Anyone living in Victoria can sign up for this online. A cardless membership gives borrowers access to the library's collection of eBooks and eAudiobooks.

Five different publishers have eAudiobooks available through the Melbourne Library Service. Of these, I have found the Bolinda titles the easiest to borrow. They download directly to my computer. I can then load them straight into iTunes. eAudiobooks from other publishers sometimes require special software in order to work. This software is easy to obtain.

Both fiction and non-fiction eAudiobooks are available. Many books by Australian writers sit alongside those by international authors. All sorts of genres and styles and narrators are on offer. There is much to explore and enjoy.

As Yvonne says, Good books with good readers are a delight. But sometimes it's a pleasure to listen to even a mediocre book if you have a great reader.

Allowing our minds to fly

I have been listening to audiobooks for many years now. In that time they have given me both enjoyment and relief. I have heard some wonderful stories. I've been transported to some fascinating places. Reading with my ears has enabled me to escape. That is because words that are written well and read with skill allow our minds to fly.

Melbourne Library Service

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