Get Your Reading On: Audiobooks

Earlier this week we took a look at reading books via email and RSS feeds. Today, we are going to look at something a little more friendly on the eyes, audiobooks. I say “friendly on the eyes” because it doesn’t really require your eyes so much as it requires a good set of ears and some earphones or speakers. Audiobooks have been around for a while in some form or another. There was “Books on Tape” then we graduate to “Books on CD” and now with iPods, there is digital audiobooks. There are a couple of sites that sell audiobooks online and we’re going to look at several of them in this article.

Why Would You Listen to a Book?

Part of the enjoyment from a book comes from the actual reading. The other part is the actual story. Well, sometimes you don’t always have time to sit down and read the actual book. And there is a little something called drive time. Many of us drive to and from our jobs because the public transportation in our city just stinks. That is time that can be used to listen to nice quality book. The other great thing about audiobooks is the ones that are done really well will sound like an audio play. The reader will use different voices for different characters and it will sound like you are listening to a radio drama. It makes the listening to the book that much more enjoyable.

Who Sells Audiobooks?

Audible.com

One of the best and probably most popular websites for audiobooks on the internet is, Audible.com. Audible books play on a large number devices and they offer a couple of plans that make listening to audiobooks cheaper than it would be if you were to just buy them outright.

Audible.com will play on iPods. That is important in today’s market because the Apple iPod has the largest market share of portable audio devices. However, they will play on Sandisk, Cowon, Samsung, and even TomTom devices. So you have a nice chance of your newly purchased audiobook working on your portable device.

Currently Audible is offering two plan levels; Gold & Platinum. The Platinum plan will cost you $22.95 a month and it will get you 2 Audible credits a month. A single credit will generally (in most cases) get you one audiobook. Since the retail price on some audiobooks is $20-$50, getting 2 for twenty-three dollars a month is a steal. You can get the Gold plan which will get you one audible credit for $14.95 a month.

eMusic

The place that was probably the first to offer DRM-free music to the masses at a price that was reasonable is now offering audiobooks. For the low price of $9.99 per month you can get yourself 30 DRM-free music tracks and 1 audiobook on a reoccurring monthly basis. The downside, they do not have the selection of Audible. Unlike Audible.com audiobooks, the eMusic are DRM-free.

There is something to be said for DRM-free audiobooks. Just like with music that’s DRM-free you can play DRM-free audiobooks on any player that will play the file format. And if you don’t have a popular mp3 player that can be a really good thing.

iTunes Store

So what about that very famous digital download store? The one that pretty much is synonymous with digital downloads? Yes, I am talk about Apple’s iTunes Store. In case you can already tell where this is going, yes, they sell audiobooks. There is one downside though, they are expensive. They are pretty much the retail price as they would be at Audible without the membership discount. On top of that they are filled with digital rights management (DRM). The good news is, they will work on your iPod(s).

Other Vendors

There are other websites and vendors out there that offer audiobooks. You might want to even check with your public library. Many library systems offer the ability to download and listen to audiobooks. Keep in mind that most of these systems do not offer iPod compatible audiobooks. If you are going to go with a specific site for your audiobooks, ensure that they will work with your player. If they do not make it clear, be sure to communicate with them what kind of player you have and ask if they support your player. Just make sure that the books will work with your player before you give someone your hard earn cash.

In Our Next Post…

In our next post we will look at electronic books, also known as eBooks. We will do eBooks in two parts. The first part will be the actual eBook files, where to buy them and the various formats can come in. In the second part we will look at the eBook readers. There are two popular portable ones and there are a couple of computer based readers as well. So come back soon and learn about eBooks.

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