On February 22, officials from Audible, the mayor of Newark, representatives of the Newark public school system, and students from East Side High School celebrated Audible’s decision to provide 15,000 Newark high school students and teachers with free Audible memberships for a year, including 12 credits to download and own any of the 400,000 titles in Audible’s library of digital audiobooks. They called the initiative Project Listen Up.
During the event, some 2,000 students at East Side High School received the packages from Audible. Prior to the distribution of the tablets, the students heard comments from dignitaries.
Audible founder and CEO Don Katz told the students, who were assembled in the high school auditorium, that there are lots of young people from Newark who work at Audible as interns and employees. He told the students that the company invented the first digital audio player: five years before the iPod, “if you’ve heard of that.”
Audible is about “listening to stories, listening for ideas,” and letting yourself be carried away by adventures, Katz told the students. Every day people listen to Audible content for an average of 107 minutes. “It’s a really exciting, addictive experience.” The idea was: Why not use the time you spend on a bus or waiting around a field to listen to an audiobook? “You could be reading.”
Words are power, he told the students. It’s the way people get a job. It’s the way people succeed in college. Words are also music, he added. Katz said that he hoped the students would explore the words of Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s father, Amiri Baraka, a great American poet and author of fiction and essays.
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