Writers, like most people, take their eyesight for granted. It is terrifying for a writer to think about losing his eyesight. On July 26, I underwent emergency surgery for a detached retina in my right eye. Two days earlier, I had lost sight completely in that eye, following 10 days of seeing eye floaters and black spots.
Though I had great faith in my surgeon, eye surgery is not an easy thing to face. The day before my surgery, I ordered two audiobooks, “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr, and “The Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins. I had confidence I would regain sight in my right eye, but I had to admit I was a little scared.
The surgery was successful, but the after-care was unpleasant, to say the least. I had to lie or sit face down for seven days with no TV, internet, reading or writing. Reading and writing are a writer’s lifeblood. Thank goodness for audiobooks and podcasts.
I put on my earbuds and lost myself in the brilliance of Doerr’s prose about the struggles of a blind French girl and a German solider during World War II. Zach Appelman’s narration was briilliant. He skilfully made the characters come alive through subtle nuances in the rendering of the dialogue. On the day I was cleared to read again, I started listening to “The Girl on the Train” on audio.
Audiobooks are wonderful gift for the sightless and the sighted. Technological advances have made audiobooks more accessible and affordable. Audiobook sales are growing. According to the Audio Publishers Association, audiobook sales accounted for an estimated $1.43 billion in 2014, up 13.5 percent from 2013. Adult titles accounted for 87 percent of all sales, though children and young adult titles are increasing in sales.
According to a GalleyCat post, revenue for audiobooks from 2008 through 2013 is etimated to have grown at an annualized rate of 12 percent (IBISWorld Report figures). The article cited the increased popularity of Internet-connected mobile devices as a major factor in the growing popularity of audiobooks.
I still prefer to hold a book (or a Kindle) in my hands. I like to linger over brilliant phrases or re-read passages that resonated with me (which can also be done with audiobooks, but requires bookmarking or finding the right place). However, I will be listening to books more often. The spoken word makes the story more intimate and makes the characters come alive. That’s how stories were rendered before print–around campfires, in town squares and pubs.
Audiobooks present a great option for all readers and book lovers.