Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Wednesday, 25 February 2015

How To Stop Reading But Still Read Everything You Want To

The Debrief: Hop on into the audiobook pool, the water's warm

For whatever reason, audiobooks haven't caught on quite as well in the digital age as I imagined they would; while podcasts and e-books flourish, people seem well, a little sniffy when it comes to the concept of audiobooks.

'Can't you read?' A colleague once said to me when I said that was my main way of consuming books these days. Erm, yep we've both got the same job so if I can't read then what does that say about you? Also, are you really reading as many books as that sniffy tone implies? Because chances are you've little to no time to do as much readying as you'd like to. The only time I have free for reading is on the tube, and then i'm either juggling make-up, seventeen bags and a coffee or I'm squished so tightly between two people that the only part of my body I can move is my little toe. Not ideal circumstances for holding up a book. Instead, I plug in and listen to the soothing voice of an actor reading me a story while I drift away out of the packed, smelly tube car and find myself right in the middle of a murder mystery, 1930's India or, during desperate times, Hogwarts.

The only problem is, actual audiobooks - the kind you buy outright (either CD or download) cost loads of money, like £16 and up, so we can understand why it seems like it might be out of your reach. There are cheaper ways to do it though; if you fancy jumping all aboard the audibook bandwagon but aren't sure what's the best was to do it, read on for our suggestions.

Audible
By and large the market winner. Audible has got the audiobooks market sewn up at the moment. Pros? You get a ‘free’ book a month and you can pretty much choose from any book published out there. The cons are though that it does cost £7.99 a month (so, that monthly book isn't quite 'free' then) and, once you’ve listened to your book that month, the rest are pretty pricey – even when there’s deals on. Still, I use it every day, would recommend, just make sure you choose long books (The Goldfinch was great, 30 hours and then some) so you get your monthly subscription’s worth.

Librivox
The Librivox library is full of audiobooks that are 100% in the public domain. Bascially, because of copyright issues, pretty much all of the classics come under this list, so it includes everything from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens to Mark Twain. Because the books were recorded by volunteers, some of the recordings can be a bit dodgy but most of the greats are just fine. Download the book to your phone or listen online both for free.

Scribd
Definitely one to watch. Audible’s great and all but the one a month thing really gets our goat. Head over to Scribd then, the subscription e-reader app that just announced the addition of 30,000 audiobooks alongside it’s already healthy e-book library. For £5.83 a month you can download, listen to and read as many of their titles as you want. Which is a bargain.

The Library
Remember that place you used to go and take out books from back in the day? Most libraries have an excellent audiobook collection and, although they come on CD and you’ll have to go through the whole rigmarole of uploading the CD to your laptop then downloading the files to your phone, it is 100% free. Plus, you’re supporting the libraries, which is always good.

Digital Audiobooks
This site definitely won’t have you’re the latest book that everyone’s talking about but if you don’t fancy classics and you’re after something a bit more modern, Digital Audibooks.co.uk offers you the kind of books you’d find in a café with a book exchange thing all for £3.99 each. Bill Bryson, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Jodi Picoult… you know the stuff.

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Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

Tags: books