If you are like me you spend a large portion of your time at work but you’d rather be somewhere else. Maybe you’d rather be at home, or at the movies, or Disney World with the family. Regardless, there are times when it can be tough to make it through the day. The rise of always on and available devices and services has made things easier for the working stiff. Today I’m going to discuss one of the main ways I combat the workday doldrums – audio books. We’ll take a look at the services and applications I use and hopefully hear from you about some alternatives.
THE CONTENT – FREE, FREEISH, AND NOT FREE
Content is king and there are three basic ways to acquire books for your listening pleasure. The easiest place to start is with free content. Probably the largest and most well-known provider of free audio book content is LibriVox. LibriVox is a non-profit organization with volunteers working hard to provide audio recordings of the best public domain books. As these recordings are non-commercial, quality can vary but many of the readers do an excellent job. You won’t find recent works here but there are plenty of gems to uncover. To get started, I recommend the Sherlock Holmes series as read by David Clarke or almost anything by Mark F. Smith. Find the books you’re interested in, download the audio files (RSS and iTunes feeds available), and load them on your phone or tablet. Your favorite audio book player (we’ll look at mine shortly) will handle it from there.
Many public libraries now provide freeish access to audio books. I say freeish because these institutions are supported by your taxes and some may charge small access fees. For the most part, however, there is little outlay required for your average user to take advantage of these services. My local library provides audio books through the OverDrive service. Unlike LibriVox, new commercial recordings are available through OverDrive and other library services. The OverDrive app lets you browse, download, and listen to titles available through your library. Check the OverDrive website or your local library to find supported locations near you.
Finally, there are the not free services. Audible is probably the most widely used of these. Audible provides paid subscription options starting at $15/month that allow you purchase one or more books each month. They’ll also sell you books outright, but expect to pay a premium for most titles if you choose not to subscribe. In addition, Audible runs daily and weekly sales that will let you fill out your audio book library at a discount. You can only listen to Audible books through the Audible app, which is available on nearly every platform. Other options for purchasing audio books include audiobooks.com and nook audiobooks. Amazon and many brick and mortar retailers also carry audio books on CD.
THE APP – PLAY ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM
I do almost all of my audio book reading on whatever Android phone I’m currently using. And the Android app that I use almost exclusively is Listen Audiobook Player by acme-android.com. The app is a steal at $1.49. It covers all the basics (bookmarks, position history, library folder, etc.) and adds many advanced features that really set it apart (playback speed, remove silence, volume boost, file types, and more) from the competition. The developer is constantly improving the app by adding and updating features. I highly recommend it.
I don’t personally use any of the audio book apps on iOS but there are plenty of options available. There are fewer for Windows 10 Mobile fans to choose from but the best of the lot has to be Audiobooked from Roma-Projekt. It’s a legacy Windows Phone 8 app but does work with Windows 10 Mobile and a Windows 10 version is in the works.
There are opportunities galore for adding audio book listening to your routine. If you aren’t sure if they’re for you give LibriVox a try. There are plenty of great books available for free that can entertain and enlighten. What audio book services and apps do you use? Call out your favorites in the comments.