Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Posted by: Shawna Reppert


Stories have always been vital to humans. Anthropologists believe that this importance goes back as far as our cave-dwelling, mammoth-hunting distant ancestors. Stories are a way to impart important knowledge (children who wander too far from the fire at night will get eaten by something scary; if you’re going to go out hunting something as big as a mammoth it’s a good idea to bring friends). Stories help to pass on the tribe’s culture by illustrating its morals and values and explaining its view of the cosmos. Though stories have been around since the dawn of  homo sapiens, the ways in which stories are shared have varied greatly over time.

Our earliest human ancestors had to rely on oral traditions, sometimes aided cave paintings and carvings. Even after humans developed systems of writing, parchment was expensive and most people could not read until relatively recently in anthropological terms. This is why bards were so revered. They brought new tales and made sure the old ones were not lost. Even after paper came into common usage Gutenberg refined the printing press, books were a luxury out of reach for many people for centuries.

As with most technologies, eventually the costs came down enough to make books affordable for everyone, at least in the developed world. Then came e-books and the great debate over ‘real’ versus digital books.  Audiobooks have been around for a while in the form of  books on tape (and later books on CD) but the need for a tape or CD player meant that they didn’t have a lot of advantages over physical books. They were great for the visually impaired and long-haul truckers, but for most readers they were a mere novelty.

Then came the prevalence of smart phones, and now most people don’t go anywhere without a little mini-computer in their pocket. The smart phone, in addition to its many, many other functions is, with the aid of free apps, a perfect audiobook player.

Critics argue that listening to audiobooks isn’t really reading, but studies have shown that the same parts of the brain activate whether the subject is reading a book or listening to audiobooks. If you think about it, audiobooks are just stories coming around full circle to their origins in oral traditions. (I have to wonder how many storytellers thought the printed word was the death of true stories, and how many traditionalists insisted that paper would never have the same feel as a really nice parchment.)


And, if you don’t mind me mentioning, my award-winning steampunk Victorian detective novel, A Hunt by Moonlight, is now available on audiobook as well as print and e-book. You can buy it through Audible, Amazon, or ITunes. You can even download it for free with a free trial subscription to Audible.



Shawna Reppert is an award-winning author of fantasy and steampunk who keeps her readers up all night and makes them miss work deadlines.  Her fiction asks questions for which there are no easy answers while taking readers on a fine adventure that grips them heart and soul.  You can find her work on Amazon and follow her blog on her website (  You can friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, where she posts an amazing array of geekery. In the past, Shawna has on occasion been found in medieval garb on a caparisoned horse, throwing javelins into innocent hay bales that never did anything to her. More recently, she has been spotted in Victorian dress taking tea with her costumer friends.


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