The very first entry I did on my web log was about books on tape, and was, as you might expect, pretty disdainful. However, on these deathly-chill days, I can see the appeal of them. I do a lot of walking these days, as well as working out and waiting for buses and trains, and that's all dead time that I would like to be reading. But when you try and read in this weather, you drop the book because you're wearing gloves (or, if you aren't wearing gloves, your hands get frostbitten). Or the wind blows the pages around so you can't read. Or the whole thing just solidifies into a frozen lump. (I do not lie. I saw a construction weight this morning -- one of those bags of sand to weigh down a road sign -- and it was frozen. FROZEN SAND, PEOPLE.)
So, in a situation like that, I can see the appeal of books on tape. The problem is, the kind of books it is profitable to record on tape are not the kind I am interested in reading. When I see the audiobooks section of a bookstore, it tends to be a lot of Tom Clancy and Dave Barry and Deepak Chopra, and not a lot of Don DeLillo and Myles nagCopaleen and Lewis Mumford.
Incidentally, I once considered starting a business where I would do just that: record books on tape of material that wasn't otherwise commonly available. I abandoned it for three reasons: my customer base would be so miniscule it would not even begin to cover the expense; I would get sued; and my voice sounds like a choked boar.