Audiobooks have always been a great alternative to reading books, for those that don’t have the time to sit down with a book, and those who have reading and communication disabilities, because the audiobooks make it easier for them to understand what they are reading.

In 1997, audiobooks sales were at $480 million, but today, they are over $1 billion. One of the biggest reasons for the significant increase in sales is the technological explosion we have experienced lately. In the beginning, audio books were recorded on Vinyl, and could only be accessed at a local library. Eventually, they became available on cassette tapes, then CDs, but they were always more expensive than print versions of the books, and they weren’t making a lot of money. Today, audio books have become a billion dollar industry, thanks to lower production costs, the availability of multiple mobile devices, and an increase in demand.

The increase in popularity of audio books has led to a decline in print, and has changed the landscape of the literary world. Now, audio book companies are springing up everywhere. Audible, an audiobook company owned by Amazon, has over 26,000 ebooks in their library, and adds about 1,000 more per month, with a goal of reaching 100,000 books. The company charges their customers a subscription fee to have access to their vast library of ebooks and audio books, just like the video streaming company, Netflix. Like Netflix, they have also started creating their own original content, which are books written specifically for audio, and they now have about 20 original audio books.

These audio books aren’t like other audio books, because they aren’t in print, and were written specifically as audiobooks. Instead of having one person narrate a book, these new audiobooks typically use more than one voice actor, and have their own production and special effects, which brings the book to life, and makes it more exciting than just listening to a narrated book.

Some of the most popular original audiobooks out are available through Audible include “The Chopin Manuscript,” which is a 17 part thriller that was written by 15 thriller authors, and won the 2008 Audiobook of The Year award. “Metatropolis” is another original audiobook, and a science fiction epic that is narrated by Star Trek alums. They even had Orson Scott Card write a new dramatization of his classic “Ender’s Game,” which included 28 actors, sound effects and music.

Audible isn’t the only audiobook company that is creating their own original content, AudioGo is another one that offers such services. They have produced over 25 audiobooks, including “The Mark of Zorro,” featuring Val Kilmer as Zorro.

Audiobooks are becoming so popular these days, that some authors aren’t even trying to get their works published in print anymore, and are going straight to audiobooks. This has led to debates between print purists and audiobook enthusiasts about which medium is better, as expected, both sides believe theirs is better, but the undeniable fact is that audiobooks are here to stay, and might make print an obsolete way of reading books very soon.