June is Audiobook Month!
As a child, I would dream about a job where I could spend my days getting paid to read. In my young mind, the public library seemed to be the ideal place for such a dream. Unfortunately, I soon found out that very little reading gets done on the job - but my to-be-read (TBR) list expands exponentially every year. A few years after my library start, during my college days, I had even less time for pleasure reading. I was commuting from my college campus in one town to work in another town and back home daily, so I decided it was time to bite the bullet and try audiobooks. I've been hooked ever since. This was in 2012, but audiobooks appeared many years - 80 to be exact - before that.
Some of you may have heard of the Talking Book Service - a free state service that provides audiobooks and magazines to the blind, visually impaired, and disabled. The Talking Book Service is the modern-day equivalent of the program, The American Foundation for the Blind, which originally released audiobooks in 1932. Those first audiobooks were recorded on vinyl and included 15 minutes of listening material on each side - a far cry from the CDs and digital audiobooks we have today. You can read more about the history of audiobooks on PBS NewsHour.
Looking at the last 25 years - Audible got its start in 1995, if you can believe that - it seems that the biggest change in audiobooks is how many people are utilizing them. Services such as OverDrive and Hoopla have emerged to bring digital audiobooks into libraries, where library users can access them for free. Our library saw a huge uptick in ebook and e-audio use during the closures and uncertainty of 2020 - and those numbers have stayed consistent. And while Audible is still holding strong, many people find free access the best way to satisfy their audiobook cravings. And who can blame them? The average audiobook cost is between $20 and $30, but bestsellers are generally much higher, and if you listen to a lot, that can add up quickly... So, in honor of Audiobook Month, I've compiled a list of places you can access audiobooks, both free and paid. Happy listening!
OverDrive/Libby - access our OverDrive collection with your library card! We are part of the ID8 ebook consortium of 8 local libraries, but you can also access the OverDrive libraries of several other libraries and consortia by clicking "partner libraries" at the top of the home screen or adding partner libraries in the Libby app. And if you don't see what you're looking for, you can recommend titles on the Overdrive webpage.
Local library - you can check out CDs and MP3 discs of audiobooks from your local library. Caldwell Library is part of the LYNX! Consortium, a network of several local libraries that share resources, so you're not limited to what you can find on our shelves.
Project Gutenberg - find a plethora of titles in the public domain on this classic electronic audiobook site.
StoryNory - This site is specifically for kids' titles. You'll find tons of fun, family-friendly stories to listen to right in your browser.
DigitalBook - an easy-to-use platform with 1,000s of books for all ages to browse and listen to.
Audible - You can start a free trial on Audible to see if you like the site before committing to a monthly subscription. A monthly subscription gives you 1-2 titles a month, and you can purchase additional titles at full price once you've used your monthly credits. The best part? You get to keep all downloaded titles, even if you cancel your subscription.
DownPour - rent audiobooks and save! DownPour allows you to rent audiobooks for 30-60 days at a fraction of the cost of a purchased audiobook. You can download the app onto an iOS or Android device.
Chirp - Get killer deals on audiobooks using Chirp. You do have to make a free account to purchase books and listen.
Local bookstore - Don't forget to check out your local bookstore to see what audiobooks on CD they have for sale! We have two fantastic bookstores right here in Caldwell - Rediscovered Books and Rubaiyat. You will find many more fantastic bookstores in the surrounding cities as well.
My post would not be complete without sharing what I am currently listening to! I listen to audiobooks exclusively through the Libby app or on discs from the Library. I'm currently listening to Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly for the monthly Thursday Afternoon Read group. I also have Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline and The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Letham in my Libby holds queue... When I run out of audiobooks available at the library (haha), I might move on to another platform. We will see if I ever get there.