You settle into your armchair, sip your cocoa, and let the silky tones of that chap off the telly caress you gently. As he tells his fascinating tale, you get more and more comfortable, slipping further down in the chair until – bang!
You sit up straight, you pay close attention. Who fired that gun? Why was there no warning? What will happen next? And should e-audiobooks come with a health warning?
The thing is, you’re in the hands (or more correctly, listening to the voices) of experts. Andy McNab’s Exit Wound is narrated by Paul Thornley, currently at the National Theatre, so expect to be thrilled at all the right times. And Jonathan Powell’s The New Machiavelli, giving us a ringside seat in 10 Downing Street, is brought vividly to life by Steven Crossley, fresh from Northern Stage’s production of Amadeus.
So if you choose adventure, you will be whisked away by an expert, but if you opt for romance, prepare for aural seduction.
Audio books have been around for a long time. Do you remember all those cassette tapes in a box as big as a suitcase? So bulky but so very frail! Library staff breathed a collective sigh of relief when they were replaced by CDs, but even these get scratched. Now Westminster Libraries have introduced e-audiobooks, which library members can borrow just as though they were physical books.
As well as a library card, you will need a computer with broadband access to download your e-audiobooks. Once you’ve downloaded them, you can listen to them on the computer, or transfer them to whatever you use to listen – MP3 player, iPod or mobile phone.
More than 600 titles are available now, and more will be added every month. Although the idea is that you do the business at home, you can get help with signing up in your local library if you need to. Just remember – you and the narrator are in this together.