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Digital Audiobook Services through Libraries

Library Technology Reports, Vol. 43, no. 1, Digital Audiobook Services thru LibrariesLibrary Technology Reports 43:1 (Jan/Feb 2007)

A "report focus[ing] on digital audiobook systems for libraries, library consortia, and other institutional customers."

Author Tom Peters explains that his issue of Library Technology Reports, "examines in some depth digital audiobook services that can be purchased or leased. It also looks briefly at a few free online digital audiobook sources."

According to the author, who is a librarian and an avid user of audiobooks, "The purpose of this report is not to convince librarians to implement a digital audiobook service, but to help librarians make an informed decision."

Among the areas that Peters covers in Library Technology Reports:

  • The popularity of audiobooks and the demographics of the users who consume content in digital audiobook form;
  • Major library vendors for digital audiobooks and free sources of digital audiobooks;
  • How the interaction with audiobook content is understood or perceived by librarians: "As you consider a digital audiobook service," Peters notes, "it may be beneficial for librarians and other library staff members to discuss how users will interact with the content....Do users 'listen' to audiobooks, or are they 'reading' the book? This is not a merely semantic question. How your librarians answer may reveal the value they place on using audiobooks."
  • Current digital rights management (DRM) issues (such as the "The iPod Impasse") impacting audiobook services for libraries;
  • Content comparison and decision points, e.g., content characteristics; cost components; purchase, lease, and licensing options; circulation models; integration with other library services; and technical support;
  • Methods for implementing and sustaining digital audiobook services in your library;
  • Reports from the field (e.g., The Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center's field tests); and
  • Potential new vendors of audiobooks this year and beyond.

About the Author
Thomas A. Peters has been a librarian for nineteen years and is the founder/CEO of TAP Information Services, a company that helps libraries and library-related organizations innovate. TAP Information Services provides coordination services for Unabridged (, a downloadable digital audiobook service for blind and low-vision users in nine states. Tom also contributes to the ALA TechSource Blog and Smart Libraries Newsletter. Tom previously has worked at the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), an academic consortium of research universities; Western Illinois University; Northern Illinois University; Minnesota State University—Mankato; and the University of Missouri—Kansas City. He currently lives in beautiful Blue Springs, Missouri, with his wife, children, cats, and dogs. He often listens to digital audiobooks while walking his dog Max morning, noon, and night.