Kirk McElhearn lists a number of good enhancements that audiobooks should get, although I admit that I rarely listen to non-fiction books (it could be that source code doesn’t work well as audio 🙂 ). But I’m not sure that this is correct:
Audible does have chapter breaks in its files (at least they show up on iPods; I’m not sure about other MP3 players), but these breaks are set at the ends of the original CDs, not the actual chapters of books. So you can skip ahead to the beginning of the next (virtual) CD, or go back to the beginning of the current CD, but not to the beginning of a chapter if you missed part of it. For that, you need to scrub back and try and find where the chapter starts.
I’m currently listening to Ben Bovas ”Voyagers” and there the length of each chapter ranges from 8:27 to 30+ minutes. Similarly ”Right Ho, Jeeves” by Wodehouse ranges between 28 to 48 minutes. Ken Follets ”The Pillars of Earth” have chapter sections that are between 15 to 50 minutes (I only checked 1 of the 5 files that the book is divided into).
I admit that I haven’t actually checked to see that these chapter sections corresponds to book chapters but at least it seem to apply to ”Voyagers” and ”The Pillars of Earth”.
But agree completely that you get a completely different experience when listening to a book compared to reading it. In fact audiobooks are the reason why I’ve started to ”read” books again, I’ve been in a phase in my life where I’ve had little time to sit down and read. But audiobooks have made it possible for me to take advantage of the time I spend in the car (I bought extra iPod support), on the bus, while waiting in line or walking downtown. The only drawback is that it’s almost impossible for me to lay down on my bed and listen, I always go to sleep 🙂