It's an all too common scenario these days. You're driving home from work and you're stuck in traffic. Boxed in on the left. Boxed in on the right. The radio, where all the bad music is played, seems too frightening to turn on. Well, how will you while away the hours till you get home?
Why not listen to a little Harper Lee?
That's right. The author's timeless 1961 novel To Kill A Mockingbird is only one of the thousands of books that American commuters are listening to as they make their increasingly longer journeys home. And now that downloading books is as fashionable as downloading music, the freeway's the limit for avid readers—and drivers--who simply don't have enough to indulge their passion.
"As people get busier and busier, they turn to audio books to better use their time," says Mary Beth Roche, publisher of Audio Renaissance. "Nineteen million people now commute at least 45 minutes. George Will was interviewed on CSPAn and he said that he listens to an additional 50 to 60 books a year that he wouldn't have time to read."
And seldom has technology been such a good friend to the printed word.
Downloading books onto MP3 players and Ipods has opened the world of the audio book to a new audience. "The gadgets and the technology are bringing new people to the experience," Roche says.
So what does Roche listen to when she's trapped behind a 18-wheeler?
"Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs," she says. "He's a marvelous storyteller."