Last year a third of the books I read were audiobooks. Naturally, those who noticed asked me where I get all my audiobooks from. They’re usually more expensive than hardcover books and so, are the least economic formats for our wallets. Still, I think the higher prices are justified because you’ve got to pay the narrators too. That being said, there are many ways to acquire audiobooks without sacrificing a days’ worth of meals. With that, I present to you ten ways to acquire audiobooks!
Overdrive is my main source of audiobooks. It’s a digital media lending platform which engages libraries from all around the world. While there are mobile apps, I prefer to download audiobooks I borrow via the Overdrive Media Console. Then I import the files into iTunes and sync with my iPhone. Admittedly, iBooks doesn’t offer the greatest listening experience (no bookmarking or note-taking option) but it allows me to collect all audiobooks in one app. Nonetheless, I love the option to download audiobooks on the go as well.
Content-wise, Overdrive is library-dependent. Fortunately for me, my local public library has a massive selection of digital content. I’ve access to nearly 10,000 audiobooks. On the YA fiction front, I can take my pick from 600 to which new titles are constantly added.
If your local library doesn’t have an Overdrive subscription, you may want to look into private libraries and out-of-state options. I know my alma mater recently added Overdrive to their resource. I also am a member of a German library from where I once lived, though I do have to pay annual fees. It’s such a cost-saving source, I definitely recommend researching your options.
2. Local Library
I know CDs are out of vogue but audiobook CDs still exist. Whenever I visit the library, I browse through the audiobook shelves as well. Once home, I rip the CDs on iTunes and load the files onto my iPhone. When I’m done listening and the loan period is up, I make sure to wipe the audiobook files from my systems.
OneClickdigital is another digital media lending platform for libraries. It’ve not had a chance to try it out since none of the libraries I’m a member of subscribe. As with Overdrive, content is library-dependent. Mobile apps are available too for convenient listening.
4. 3M Cloud Library
3M Cloud Library is a digital media lending platform as well. It’s limited to libraries in the USA, UK, Australia and Canada. Some libraries only offer ebooks while others also include audiobooks. Reading and listening are confined to their desktop and mobile apps. Still, it’s worth checking it out if your library offers the service.
Hoopla is a US-only digital media lending platform. What sets it apart from the ones mentioned above is that there are no waiting periods. For Overdrive patrons may only check out as many copies are available at any one time. On the flip side, you can only check out ten titles per month. The great thing is that this week HarperCollins opened up their entire audiobooks catalogue to Hoopla.
6. Audiobook SYNC
Every summer AudioFile hosts SYNC through which two audiobooks are distributed per week for free on their website. Typically they pick one classic and one modern title, all targeted at the young adult demographic. Occasionally there are geographic restrictions but this is one of the rare times that you can legally obtain copyrighted audiobooks and keep them indefinitely.
Audible is the only place I buy audiobooks from. It’s really easy to download the titles to the Audible app. I think it’s worth signing up for a membership because with credits audiobooks are a whole lot cheaper. My favourite way to save though is to look out for Kindle deals. Often Audible audiobooks are marked down if you purchase the Kindle edition first.
Below you see that the audiobook of Outander costs US$24.49 or 1 credit (equals US$14.95 for Gold members). Now, if you buy the currently discounted Kindle edition at US$3.99 and then the Audible edition for US$3.99 as well, you’ll spend US$7.98. Big difference! Plus, this way there’s always the option to switch between the ebook and the audiobook, depending on circumstances.
Scribd is a digital library service, though its model has changed drastically over the past half year. In the past, many touted it as Netflix for ebooks. With the recent changes subscribers may loan one audiobook and three ebooks per month. If you don’t max out your loans, you may roll over up to three audiobooks and nine ebooks. At US$8.99, is a considerable supplementary resource, especially if your local library offers next to no (English) audiobooks.
Titles you add to your library each month remain accessible until your membership expires. Compared to the cheapest Audible membership where one credit averages US$9.56, Scribd stacks up pretty well. If owning the audiobooks isn’t a priority and you’re not a voracious re-reader, Scribd might be a great option for you.
Even though I’m tied to Apple with my phone, laptop and tablet, I’ve never bought an audiobook from iTunes. That’s because iTunes Singapore has no audiobooks available for purchase. I can’t buy ebooks either. In most countries however, iTunes does offer a wider selection of digital content. Though I did compare the prices between iTunes US and Audible.com — I’m not losing out on anything.
Downpour recently came to my attention for its audiobook rentals. Audiobooks are available for purchase end rent to members. If you’re only interested in audiobooks and don’t give a hoot about ebooks, Downpour could interest you. While I’ve not signed up myself, I did try out their iPhone app which comes pre-loaded with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It’s a good app.
Speed options are available at 0.5x, 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x and 2x. I wish faster than 2x was available but 1.75x is an option I’ve not seen in the other apps. Note taking works like a charm and notes are consolidated in one place, allowing users to see them all at a glance.