When Books Died

I spend a great deal of time in my car. In the past, if I was to maximize the value of that time, I had a number of choices. I could listen to the radio. Sadly, I have never found a commercial station offers me a three solid hours of stimulating listening. I could catch up on phone calls. Productive and meaningful, provided I use my hands-free kit, but seldom taking more than a half hour to complete. As I got increasingly busy, I had a growing concern that I was grossly underutilising my car QT.

At about the same time a number of peers and mentors were almost serendipitously reminding me that I was reading very few books. Having always been an avid reader, this was an enormous frustration for me. I realised I had to do something about my flailing reading commitment. I tried and failed. All my good reading time was taken up with online content – with my job.

AudibleThen I read a recent article at Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine blog – see it here – and realised that my perceptions were possibly skewed. It occurred to me, and this can be argued, that the value of books lies more in the content than in the medium. If anything, the book medium (bound pages and ink) is horrendously outdated. It isn’t searchable, it isn’t conversational, it isn’t interactive, it isn’t inter-linkable. To quote Jeff – “I have nothing against books. But the book is an outmoded means of communicating information.”

Then I clicked (in a manner of speaking). I was a tech savvy guy. I owned an iPod. I’d been listening to my iPod in the car – customized playlists and podcasts had become my personalized radio content. But what if I could read in the car? Well, you’d most likely crash, I hear you say. Fair enough. But what if I could listen to my book instead? How much valuable reading time could I sneak in while commuting?

In a flash, the Google god told me where to find Audiobooks. Audible.com, he said. I went, faithful and expectant. I offered up my credit card and was blessed with two Gladwellian treats – The Tipping Point and Blink. I downloaded. I imported. I celebrated.

I am half way through Blink and loving every minute of it.

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