Have You Been Converted to Audiobooks Yet?

In the past year or so I’ve become a devout audiobook listener. I know some of you will think I’m waaaaay behind the curve, but I also know that some of you are probably still not believers yet. Let me tell you; I wasn’t a believer at first either. I associated audiobooks with boring childhood road trips and/or being too lazy to read. That bias had me seriously missing out.

I can’t do without my audiobooks now. I really can’t! I did get into them because of road trips – and they’re truly wonderful that; 14 hours won’t ever go by so quickly – but now I listen while I’m folding laundry, getting ready for bed, driving around town, going on walks, cleaning, and even during my lunch break. I feel like I almost double my available “reading” time, because now I can consume books when I’d never otherwise be able to. Hands free!

One of the most common reasons I’ve heard people express reluctance to get into them is a bad experience. Truly, the book you choose makes all the difference. A bad narrator will make any book miserable, and some books simply aren’t predisposed to good listening. I’ve found that complex, literary works are harder to concentrate on and follow aloud, so now I use audio for more of my leisure reads. Things that are fast-paced and/or funny are particularly fun, although I will say that there’s value to hearing exquisitely-written prose aloud too.

Another hesitation is price. Audiobooks are expensive! They take tons and tons of production hours, so it makes sense, but who has $30 to spend on every book? There are several alternatives. First of all, most public libraries provide audio rentals for free! Nowadays there are even temporary downloads, so you don’t even have to go pick it up in person or deal with CD swapping; you just get it on your phone. Library rentals are a great option for newbs who aren’t sure yet if they want to commit to audiobooks.

The option I’ve ended up with – and am madly in love with – is Audible. It’s a subset of Amazon devoted solely to audiobooks. Since it’s subscription style, you can pay for either one ($14.95) or two ($22.95) books a month, and any additional buys you make are 30% off. You also get access to tons of great free podcast subscriptions that include everything from short stories to comedy bits, and Audible runs daily deals for members that put specific books on sale for $2.99 each. The subscription prices drop even lower if you pay annually instead of monthly, so if you actually listen to the books, Audible is well worth the value.

If you do decide to give Audible a try, please use my referral links: get a free trial or subscribe to a gold membership! I’ll get a small amount of money and it won’t cost any extra for you. For everyone, your first month and two books are free, and you keep your books forever even if you cancel your membership. You can always cancel (or even pause) at any time, and if you ever get a dud narrator or crummy book, you can return it.

Another cool feature that Audible has is called Whispersync. I haven’t tried it yet, but if you buy a (discounted) ebook version of the same thing in audio, you can go back and forth between listening and reading and it’s supposed to save your spot. Has anyone tried it? It sounds too good to be true!

And to get you started – whether you check them out at your library, use your free trial, or subscribe through Audible – here are the four best audiobooks I’ve listened to so far:

I do get referral credit if you click through any of those books, too! (And I promise that’s not why I’m recommending Audible; I really do love it.) If nothing else you should do a free trial and listen to two of these amazing books for free. 🙂 I’ve posted raves about Beloved and Bird Box. I also have one about Gone Girl, but Flynn’s Sharp Objects is even better. And A Head Full of Ghosts was so good that I’m now reading a second book by Tremblay.

So, have you converted to audiobooks yet? Do you use Audible, the library, or something else? Recommendations for great listens are welcome!

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  • I’ve listened to audiobooks in the past, but it’s been a while since I’ve done so. You have inspired me to get a few from the library and listen to them while I’m driving.

  • A. B. Davis

    I have a post coming up about audio books too! I love browsing audio books at the library. But now that I live where I work, I don’t have nearly enough driving time to get an audiobook rental done before it’s due. Maybe I can try Audible. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Oh cool. 🙂 Less commute is good, though. Audible with no subscription might be a good option for you. You can still purchase books without a subscription, I believe, and of course you can get 2 free and then cancel after your trial. You can also subscribe and then “pause” your subscription sometimes too, so that might be a good option.

  • I’m so happy to hear your enthusiasm! You’ve found the perfect thing to use during dull chores or commutes. I know lots of people who love audiobooks. My publisher says she’s going to start producing them for her line this summer. I hope she hires a firm with really good narrators…

    • Me too! I have several indie pub friends who are actually hiring their own narrators and producing their own audiobooks, too. It’s a great option!

  • Veronica Schultz

    I personally am not a fan. I have a lot of trouble focusing on oral stories (whether it’s an audiobook, the radio, or a person telling me a story face to face), so it just doesn’t work for me. However, I work for a company that supplies audiobooks (as well as other media) to libraries in both physical and digital formats. Most of my work friends who listen to audiobooks use hoopla (the digital service we provide to the libraries), and I hear it’s amazing. No waiting lists and you can put it on pretty much any device. And since it comes from the library, it’s free. 🙂

    • I can understand that! I can’t listen while I’m doing certain things. It’s great for mostly-mindless tasks, but not if I need to concentrate on something even a little bit.

      And Hoopla is great! It’s what my library uses too. My problem with them is just that their selection is far smaller than Audible. For example, of the 4 books I listed above, Hoopla only has 2. (But for anyone reading who wants to listen to all 4, you could get A Head Full of Ghosts and Bird Box free through Hoopla if your library uses them and then get Beloved and Sharp Objects for free through Audible with the one-month trial!) It’s a great option for people on a tighter budget who don’t mind less selection, for sure. 🙂

  • Peggy

    I love the idea and think the freeways & workplaces would be friendlier if more people were happily listening to a great book on their way to work as opposed to their current state of stressed, angry drivers. I’m starting a new job with a 50 min commute so I’m going to check out my audio options. In the past I tried renting a book from Cracker Barrel (believe it or not) after friends recommended them. You rent at any restaurant and return at any. I’ve also purchased audio books from Half Price Books in the past and particularly loved “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. Audible is a little pricy for me, but I’m going to check out the library, thanks to this post!

    • That’s such a good point. Same goes for long lines at the store; I just put in my headphones and listen, and it becomes a much more pleasant and less anxious experience. 🙂 I think you’ll like audibooks. Mysteries are really great to listen to, in my experience. In fact I think you’d like Sharp Objects. It’s dark, but so very good.

  • I was really into audiobooks last year and now I listen to so many podcasts that I forgot about audiobooks. Oops!

    • I figured as much; I remembered your blog about falling in love with podcasts. We’re opposites: I can’t pause the audiobooks long enough to even give podcasts a fair try. 🙂

  • Cynthia

    I tried an audiobook last summer, and while it was by an
    author I love and the writing was her usual gorgeous prose, something made it
    difficult for me. It was feeling like I had to hold still and listen. Weird,
    because we certainly hold still when we read, don’t we? An audiobook would be
    more enjoyable to me if I was otherwise occupied, like if I was driving a long
    way, or camping and lying in my sleeping bag in a dark tent waiting for sleep.
    I’m positive I would love them under the right circumstances, and was
    frustrated with myself for having such trouble with sitting still and listening.

    Btw, after your glowing recommendation, I bought Beloved,
    and have to say it is the most beautiful prose and imagery, Annie, and deeply
    creepy, too – thanks so much for blogging about that one. Will be rereading all
    Toni Morrison’s books in the coming year. What a fabulous writer she is!

    • Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I never just listen sitting still. (Okay, rarely; if I’m really caught up in one I might sit in the driveway for a while to see what happens next.) I listen while my body is busy but my brain is still: eating, driving, cleaning, walking, that sort of thing. It is odd, because we sit still to watch movies or TV, too, but I’m the same way as you in that I find it hard to do nothing and listen.

      I’m so thrilled to hear you liked Beloved!! Morrison is one of the most talented writers I’ve ever read, and I’ve only read two of hers so far, so I’ll be working through more of hers as well. So do let me know if you have a favorite or two, and I’ll put them at the top of my list! 🙂

  • Carie Juettner

    You know I love audio books too! But I still get mine from the library and listen to them on CDs in my old car. 🙂

    • Good for you! Now that I’ve used Audible I don’t have the patience for that anymore. I’m audiobook-spoiled. =/

  • ronda hale

    Yes! Daily for many years.