Are you listening?

<p>Audiobooks, or 'talking books', have traditionally received rather a bad rap. Commonly sneered at as regular books' bastard little brothers, they have historically been sidelined as intended only for the visual impaired, blind, elderly or ill.</p>
<p>A kind of snobbery has always plagued audiobooks, which have been perceived as a bit 'easy' or an inferior/ less intellectual way of accessing books. One reason for this is that the majority of audiobooks are abridged&mdash;a necessary evil when a typical 400-page book can easily span 15+ CDs and cost upwards of &pound;30. Literary heavyweight P D James refuses any abridgements of her work and Graham Greene always insisted on 'complete' reproductions of his texts, although amusingly, the movies of <i>Our Man In Havana </i>and <i>The Third Man</i> were both cut down for the screen with no complaints. <br />
<br />
Another reason for sniffiness over audiobooks is that there seems to exist a notion&mdash;especially among the 'learned'&mdash;that for a book to be worth its salt it has to be slogged over&mdash;an odd kind of achievement that perhaps provides a reader with the conviction that they have worked as hard in reading as the author did in writing.<br />
<br />
But times they are ever changing, and with digitalisation and the wonder of downloadable MP3s, more people, especially young people, are getting into audiobooks through sites such as audible.co.uk, which proved marketable enough to have been acquired by Amazon in 2008.</p>
<p>With most audiobooks handily 'bookmarked' every five minutes or so a listener can navigate one easily on an iPod and more and more people are removing themselves from their respective closets and confessing to being audiophiles.</p>
<p>The likes of Stephen Fry (the voice of the Harry Potter audiobooks) and photographer Rankin have recently extolled spoken word's values and <i>Time Out </i>magazine has recently re-introduced monthly audio reviews upon realising that their target young, trendy demographic is actually increasingly interested in the newest audio releases. As production costs are cut down significantly with digital audiobooks, more unabridged, complete books can be offered online so listeners can chose which they prefer, abridged or unabridged, at little extra cost. <br />
<br />
Audiobooks have also been subject to scrutiny in recent months because they are currently VATable at a higher rate (15%), as opposed to books which are zero rated and no VAT is charged to the consumer (meaning a cheaper end product). On 12th March, <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/79816-eu-votes-for-e-books-vat-cut.htm... Bookseller </i></a>reported that from 2011 e-books and audiobooks could have their VAT reduced to 5%.</p>
<p>This means that within the next few years audiobook publishers may be able to charge significantly less for both their digital and physical audiobooks, which inevitably would mean that more people could access and afford them. <br />
<br />
<br />
&nbsp;</p>