The Audio Book . . . sounds like there's only one and there are thousands of them
Audio books have been popular since the mid 1980's when some publishers had the bright idea of taping people (often famous people) reading the stories. Audio books are a great idea which quickly gathered speed and went from strength to strength, although I admit to being rather "huffy" about them when my children were small. Okay, there's nothing wrong with pushing a tape into the car player on a long journey when you're otherwise engaged with stuff like driving (I can still remember the opening lines of James and the Giant Peach - Until he was 4 years old . . . .), but leaving them with an audio book playing at bedtime instead of staying and reading a bedtime story yourself, well that's just plain lazy and not in the true spirit of parenthood.
Audio books are available these days in just about every genre you can think of, they're certainly not limited to young children who haven't quite mastered their ABC's yet. You can even download free audio books to your iPod or MP3 and listen to them whilst you're running, walking or taking a hike. Plenty of us like to enjoy a good book without having to take the time to actually sit down and read them ourselves. Audio books are a terrific way to make the traffic problems on the commute to work a little less frustrating, they're also terrific for people who have any type of vision difficulties.
Audio books are available in fiction, non fiction, biographies, research, hell you can even get audio cook-books, although you might have to keep stopping it if you're trying to follow a recipe - I know whenever I try out a new recipe which allows 20 minutes preparation time and 10 minutes cooking time, you can guarantee that I'll still be there an hour and a half later trying to decide what I'm doing wrong and whether the chicken is supposed to be that pink in the middle and whether it's actually safe to eat (you don't get pictures in audio books you see, which can be a tiny bit of a problem to those of us who are culinarily challenged).
Audio books are available in many different download formats too, compatible with iPod, MP3, WMA and lots of them are free. The world of literature has been literally opened up to the masses, I'm not suggesting that there are a lot of people who can't read (although there are many people who can't for a variety of reasons), but I am very much suggesting that there are a lot of people who simply don't read. Anyway, help is at hand because there are even audio books which teach reading skills, and what better way to get your children interested in learning to read and the wonderful world of books than to have them learn to read with a helpful audio book running alongside the traditional pages.
All in all, audio books have a very real place in society today, and have improved the lives of millions of people, providing hours of listening pleasure.
Has that whet your appetite for a little more. Remember that books in the public domain are available as free audio books . . . brilliant, bring on the classics.