An audio book is generally a recording of someone reading the text from a regular book. They can be either unabridged or a "reader's digest" version.
Audio books have been around for a long time. They were originally designed to provide books for the blind but are very popular for mobile user such as commuters that can listen to books via cassette tape, CDs, MP3 players, or iPods.
Audio books are popular for mobile reading platforms. They are usually in MP3 or Audible formats although some are also in WMA Voice format. Most devices that can be used as eBook Readers also support some form of audio books.
An audio book can be used in conjunction with an eBook to follow along, so to speak. This is a big help to people learning to read in a foreign language. The audio playback device can be the same as the reading device but does not have to be. Often it is better to have separate devices so that there is independent control in case one or the other needs to be backed up or paused.
Today the web is a great place to get audio books although they can also be purchased in book stores. Most of the web sites provide downloadable books in MP3 format using low bit rates while the bookstores provide CDs and tapes. Some libraries allow checkout of Audio books using in a DRM version of WMA. Audible has their own format for audio books with multiple compression rates. All of the Audible books use DRM and support multiple devices with one purchase.
Audio books are sometimes enhanced with music, sound effects, and even actors playing different roles but most of the time it is a single person reading the book. Some book readers attempt to change their tone or voice for different characters in the book. A related but different genre is old time radio shows from the 30's, 40's, and 50's which have also been released in the same media forms as audio books. The difference is one is from a book while the other is from a script.
Another way that eBooks can be read aloud is via a text to speech, TTS, processor. TTS can be used from a personal computer or from a dedicated device to read digital text aloud. The big advantage of TTS is that the audio is synced to the page which makes following along in the text much easier. Some library eBooks support TTS.
It is also possible to synchronize audio files with text displayed on the screen. The file format LRC is designed to do this. It is mainly used to sync lyrics to music but can also be used to sync the transcript from a radio show or an eBook.
 Portable Device Support
Some of the E-book devices have support for mp3 files and can thus be used for audio books. Audible is available on PDAs, iPad, iPhone and the Kindle. There are also many dedicated portable audio devices such as the iPod, Sansa Clip, and Zune. Of course Notebooks and Netbooks will generally work as well although they are more cumbersome. Even some portable GPS devices include audio support. Some devices attempt to provide a screen with information on the book appearing while you are listening to the book. This can include text such as chapter name and progress data.
While it is easy to record an audio file of a book it is more difficult to make it look like and behave like an audio book instead of a music file. There are tools that can be used to make an audio book with multiple files that does not require a playlist.
- http://lodensoftware.com/chapter-and-verse/ for Windows
- http://www.splasm.com/audiobookbuilder/ for Mac OS X
- MP3 Tag Editor edit the metadata.
 For more information in this wiki
- Sound for mp3, WMA, and Audible data
- DTBook is the standardized format for books that are to be read via TTS.
- DAISY is a standards consortium for the blind and visually impaired
- Intel Reader - A hardware solution with a camera, OCR, and TTS
- NowBible - A hardware device that provides both text and Audio for versions of the Bible.
- GoBible - A hardware device for audio Bibles. One model can support user added content.
- OpenBook - Software for a PC that can read a paper book or scanned images to you on the fly.
- Freedom Scientific - A company featuring products for the blind and visually impaired.
- FSReader a DAISY Player/reader
- Tobi an authoring tool for talking books.
- SMIL the standard for synchronizing text and narration.
- Menestrello an ePub 3 eBook reader that supports synchronized audio books.
 External Links
- http://www.audible.com - These are AA and AAX formatted audio books.
- http://www.print2eforms.com - Conversion services company that converts books for use by disabled children. Experts in educational, higher Ed, Journals, news papers conversion.
- Free audio books online - Listen to streaming audio or download in MP3, M4B, iTunes podcast formats.
- http://www.bookcourier.com/ - text to speech hardware.
- Discount Audio Books best-selling audiobooks.
- Intel audio eBook Reader
- http://www.radiospirits.com/ - Old time radio shows
- Playlist Audio Books
- http://www.librivox.org/ - Growing public domain collection of copyright-free books read by volunteers. Many titles from Project Gutenberg.
- http://www.loc.gov/nls/ - National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped administers a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers.
- http://www.rfbd.org/ - Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic provides an accessible audiobook library for students with disabilities such as visual impairment or dyslexia.
- http://www.kurzweiledu.com/ - Software that converts books for use by the blind. Primarily for Education. This includes OCR/TTS for instant and incidental reading of documents.
- http://www.podiobooks.com/ - Serialized audio books which are made available in podcast format. All the books you’ll find on are provided by the authors for free.
 MP3 bookstores
- LibriVox, public domain audiobooks (15,000+ titles)
- a Google search for 'audio books' will turn up hundreds of web sites.
- archive.org - mostly LibreVox titles (8,800 titles
- AudioBooksCorner Free Audio Books -- Use the 'Advanced Search' and set the price to 'free' to find all free audio books.
- Audio Books for free -- Free only low bit rates and if downloaded. They also sell sets on hardware media and higher bit rates.
- Project Gutenberg (2,000+ titles) browse by author
- Free Classic audio books
- Voices in the Dark -- Free MP3 audio books in 15 and 56kbps
- Ambling Books (2,000+ titles) --> mostly LibriVox titles, but easier to navigate
- ejunto (27 titles) --> history & philosophy
- Books should be free (2,000 titles) --> mostly LibriVox
- LearnOutLoud audio and video (1,000+ titles) --> many LibriVox titles
- Open Culture (550 titles)