Just Listen: Audiobooks for the Pore

Ah, audiobooks.  They take me back.  Back to a time when my sister and I actually sat silently in the back seat of our car (a rare occurrence, unless we were in trouble), listening to storybook cassettes (yes, I did just say cassettes) from McDonald’s Happy Meals/Burger King Kid’s Meals.

You know the kind.  The ones that either said “turn the page” all perky like or made some kind of tone to indicate when you should flip.  No?  Am I in the minority here?  *Crickets chirping* Hmm… -_-

Well, my parents remember them as well as the unusual looks they got from other motorists, until they’d spot us in the back seat.  Only now can I imagine how awkward that could be.  It’s hard try to ride in style all cool and suave with The Three Little Bears cooing and dripping sugary voices from your radio.  Sorry Mommy, sorry Daddy.  I mean, sorry Mother and Father–that sounds more adult-ish, right?


Anyway…I guess you could say that was my introduction to audiobooks, and I still listen to them today.  Only now this involves mp3 files and apps.  Sorry, cassettes.  We’ll still have our memories.  (Like listening to that funky little sound you made while being rewound, or winding the tape back into the cassette when it got caught in the player. Good times.)

One of those nicer memories were the cheaper prices.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but audiobooks today can get pretty pricey.  Which can and probably does discourage some from using them.  Budgets, people, budgets!

And while there are subscription plans available (i.e. Audible, Playster, etc.) that can make tuning into books more affordable (at least a little), they may not be suitable for everyone.  Like for people not quite ready to commit to yet another contractual agreement (cellphones are bad enough).

Although, if you don’t mind going a little old school, you can still check out your local libraries’ book fairs, or second-hand shops, and purchase audiobook CDs.  Unfortunately, CD players aren’t as portable as smartphones, ipods, or mp3 players.  So unless you can convert your CDs to the appropriate files or you listen to your CDs on your daily commute, these can restrict your mobility a bit.

So what now?

Well, if you’re ready to test the waters but aren’t ready to plunge into the audiobook world just yet, there are some less costly options for you.

1. Overdrive

Heard of it?  Well, now you have.  Overdrive is one of the many apps I use to get my read on.  And it’s my favorite way to access my library’s e-library audiobook (and ebook) collection.

The downside: it’s limited to how many audiobooks are in your library’s e-library collection–obviously.  And guys, if you’re like me, that’s nowhere near as many titles you’d like to read, but it’s a start.  But if you want a greater selection, you could always visit your library in person.  There’s nothing wrong with a little legwork, especially in the name of literature.

2. Sync

I know.  This is still sort of connected to Overdrive…sort of.  Sync is a summer reading initiative to encourage teens to read more.  It does this by making two audiobook titles available for download (that’s right, for keeps) to your Overdrive app each week.  They’re paired based on weekly themes, and change over every Thursday.  This year, it runs from May 5th to August 17, offering 30 audiobooks total.  Find out more here.

The downside: first, it’s a limited collection as well (much more so than what your library might offer), but you do get to keep whichever titles you want.  Second, it’s aimed at teens so–unless you’re a teen, or an adult that reads YA books like me–you might have fewer titles that appeal to you.  But, there are still plenty of adult-friendly books to choose from. Third, it’s time sensitive, meaning you have to wait each week until the books are available.  And once the week has ended, you can’t go back and get the titles you missed; so sign up for alerts if you don’t want to miss out.  That said, it’s still worth it.

(Tip:  Download original copies of your titles to your desktop or laptop first (if you can), and, then, transfer them to your other devices later. Trust me. The files can get pretty big.  And you don’t want to eat up too much precious data space on your mobile devices.)

3. Open Sources & Similar Sites: Gutenberg, LibriVox, etc.

If you love the classics, this might be the way to go.  Open sources for lit like GutenbergLibriVox, and LiteralSystems rely on volunteers to narrate public domain titles.  Many are available for streaming and/or downloading.

The downside: you may not always get the same quality with some of these audiobooks as you would with those made by professionals.  But, if you get a copy you’re not crazy about, keep looking.  LiteralSystems’ titles sound awesome–professional-grade.  Its collection isn’t too big, but I hope it continues to grow.  I’ve also run across some great recordings on LibriVox, voices I could listen to all day.  Plus, they’re free!  What’s not to love about that?

4. Audiobooks for Review

I’ve joined a few Goodreads groups that include authors offering copies of their audiobooks in exchange for reviews.  Now, I’ll admit I haven’t actually answered those requests yet.  (I’m not avoiding you.  It’s just that my cup “spilleth” over at times, and I don’t want to make you wait.)  So, I can’t comment too much about the quality of their titles or anything.  But, readers/reviewers, if you do accept these titles, please follow through.  It helps keep the bookish community all peaceful and lovable and stuff.

Well, that’s all I have for now.  What about you?  Do you know of any ways we can get our hands on free or inexpensive audiobooks–uh, legally, that is?  Do you or have you used any of the options listed above?  If you decide to try any of them out, let us know what you think of them.

Happy Reading! no wait…Happy Listening?! Re…Li…ugh.  Oh, whatever.  I think you get the point.




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