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Carpooling and Audio Books

Books on CD and cassette have quietly become a nice little profit center for book publishers. (So too have audio downloads, but that’s a subject for another day.) Even though audio versions sell, at best, perhaps 1 copy to every 10 copies of a hardcover book, their high price and low royalty rate enable publishers to make money. Most people who listen to audio books do so while driving their cars. So, I wonder: as high gas prices lead more people begin to carpool (see this article in today’s New York Times), however reluctantly, will fewer people be buying audio books? Or: will they be buying more audio books, in order to give strangers something to listen to instead of having to talk or sit in silence? Or: are the kind of people who can afford to buy audio books not likely to submit to carpooling at all?