Picks and Pans Review: Heard Any Good Books Lately?

updated 05/05/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/05/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The first major book to be available in audio form appeared 34 years ago when Caedmon publishers recorded poet Dylan Thomas reading his /A Child's Christmas in Wales. Today Jane Fonda is a recorded author, as are James Michener, Lee Iacocca, Saul Bellow and hundreds of others. It's the era of the audio text, an entertaining hybrid as convenient as a Reader's Digest condensation. The estimated 300 million-plus cassette tape players now in American households and cars—and attached to various parts of American bodies—suggest a potential market of $400 million annually. So a number of major publishing houses have joined with record labels in putting books on tape. Here are some current offerings:

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