For those of you with long commutes, joggers, or those planning a long car trip, nothing makes the time go faster than listening to a good old book on tape. Growing up there were no DVD players in cars for those long trips. To keep sane my parents would take us to the local library to stock up on audiobooks and outfit each of us with a cassette player and later CD players. The library’s selection was sparse, especially for school age kids, but we always managed to find something if not out of desire, out of sheer desperation.
Nowadays there are more options, and most can be done from the comfort of home.
Local libraries – Where I live there are two library systems which use different audiobook services. Check with your library to see if it has a service available. Often these programs are clunky and hard to navigate, but hey, they’re free!
- NetLibrary – Requires the user to download software to their personal computer and then from that program they can choose books with a one click download to the device of their choice. Sounds great but I couldn’t get mine to work. The search program is useless and every book I tried said that there wasn’t a copy available. I’m not sure if it was the program or some interface error that I haven’t discovered.
- OverDrive – Also requires a software download to manage titles and works with the local library catalog. Once downloaded the files can be transferred to a device if desired. I initially had huge problems because my computer hadn’t installed an update to the media player, but once that was taken care of it worked great. It allows the user ten books at a time for three weeks before removing them. It also has an app for iPhones which I haven’t tried yet.
Other Free Options – Both of these only have books that have entered the public domain and consist mostly of the old classics. I can’t vouch for the quality of the readings, as some rely on volunteers. Unlike the library services these books can be kept forever.
Subscription service – Sometimes you can’t get what you want unless you pay for it, and it’s true for audio books as well. These services all have huge selections read by professionals.
- Audible.com – powered by Amazon, this service can get you whatever title you want, including bestsellers. They offer a 3 month trial for $7.49/month and then it jumps to $14.95, see the site for other options. For this you can download one book a month that you keep. This is the top audiobook service on the market. They also offer a variety of other audible media as well.
- SimplyAudioBooks.com – This service is almost identical to Audible except that they offer an audiobook disc in the mail service as well, much like Netflix. No trial offer here but they have a no questions asked, full refund policy.