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How Do You Listen to Audiobooks?

The recent revelation of Google making a play for the audiobook market with DRM-free audiobooks got me curious about audiobook consumption.

Do you listen to audiobooks? How?

I don’t, and after being frustrated with the format for a number of years I have come to the conclusion that I’d probably prefer the "abridged" version of an audiobook – one that more closely resembled story-telling rather than simply reciting the contents of a book. (If you’re not sure what I mean, think of how the War of the Worlds radio play differed from the book – it’s the same story, only in very different forms.)

How about you?

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Jan July 26, 2018 um 3:15 pm

I listen to audiobooks from Audible, Librivox, and occasionally the public library on my Samsung phone with Apple earpods. I don’t listen to a lot of audiobooks, but it’s nice sometimes. What I really like is Old Time Radio programs, so I understood and appreciated your preference for a dramatized abridged version rather than the straight audiobook.

Joe July 26, 2018 um 3:23 pm

I listen to unabridged audio books through the Audible IOS app while driving and it seems to work pretty well. Some can be really long in the 18-20 hour range so maybe I should check out an abridged version to see if I would prefer that. My daughter and I work our way through an entire Harry Potter book as we drive back/forth from volleyball practice through the winter which has become a nice tradition. DRM is not an immediate concern as I’m fully locked in with the amazon ecosystem and it works well BUT it would be nice. I do occasionally look at my bookshelf filled with books I purchased 30 years ago and wonder whether I will have the option of being able to read/listen to my current crop of ebooks and audiobooks 30 years from now? One other thing, audiobooks are ridiculously expensive so I typically only purchase them when some free Audible credits find their way into my account. I know, I know, I should get them from the library.

scott fisher July 26, 2018 um 4:37 pm

I usually listen to unabridged audio. If possible, I like to whispersync it to the kindle e-book I’m reading.
I also like listening to audioplays and recordings of old time radio (I should’ve been born in the ’30’s)

Carmen Webster Buxton July 26, 2018 um 4:53 pm

I used to listen to them when I commuted to work in a car every day, but now that I’m retired, I prefer reading over listening.

Scotto July 26, 2018 um 5:02 pm

Originally I listened via cassettes, then CDs, 1st gen Shuffle, 3rd gen Shuffle and 7th gen Nano – all in the car while commuting back and forth to work. Other times are for podcasts. Lately I just sync them to my iPhone so I can finish a chapter out of the car and control it better thru my current car’s headunit via bluetooth or by direct connection. I find it’s easier to use the built-in iBooks app to listen as it interfaces with the car’s headunit better than 3rd party apps.
My default choice for content is through Overdrive from my library. I can download them DRM-free in MP3 format and import it into iTunes for syncing to the iPhone (or an iPod). If the wait is too long I either buy it from Audible if it’s $25 or less or go to "Sweden" if it’s overpriced.
Since I get the majority of my books from Overdrive I’ve never found it cost effective to maintain an Audible membership. I have an account with them but just buy books a la cart versus by subscription.
Normally most of my books come in unabridged form and given a choice I’d go for the unabridged anyway. I’d feel i was missing something if it were abridged and I’m not sure i’d trust the judgement of whoever’s editing the abridgement.

John July 26, 2018 um 5:09 pm

I listen to audio books almost daily while commuting or working in the garage. I typically have a paper book, audio book, and an e-book in work. DRM-free audio books are easy to come by at my library via Overdrive.

Randy Lea July 26, 2018 um 5:33 pm

I listen to a lot of audiobooks, have done so for years, Overdrive is clearly the way to go. I use an app called Listen on Android, works very well.

I’ve never read anything written that details why the increased interest in audiobooks we are seeing, my guess is that a lot of folks don’t own a tablet and don’t like ebooks on a phone, and now audiobooks work very well on a phone.

I also like full cast audio drama, the best now comes from Britain, I have two sources I like. The first is BBC Radio 4, which has a lot of drama, comedy, and factual programming available to stream in their app. The other is Big Finish, which produces a ton of full cast content. They have a lot of Science Fiction, like Doctor Who, new content with many of the prior Doctor actors, and other popular TV series from the past. My favorite is a post-apocalyptic series called The Survivors.

Anne-Maree July 26, 2018 um 6:56 pm

I purchase them in Audible, but also listen via library borrowing apps Libby and Borrowbox.
I find CD’s irritating to use. And I don’t have itunes on my phone.
The BBC website hosts a lot of their full cast productions and they are usually excellent. But they are only up for a limited time.
For a novel I prefer unabridged.

Joyce Hunt July 27, 2018 um 3:01 am

I listen to audiobooks instead of reading for several reasons. It cuts down on the number of migraines I suffer. It allows me to multitask. I love listening to books while crafting, cleaning house, etc. My primary device for listening is my cellphone. I like the Libby app for library loans and the Smart Audiobook Player for other books.

Popup July 27, 2018 um 6:02 am

I listen to a lot of audiobooks on my Android phone. I have tried a couple of different apps, but the one I’ve stuck with is 'smart audiobook player'. It’s not got a very flashy UI, but it is very good at playing audiobooks. It even has a feature that I find myself using quite a lot (especially if I accidentally push the pause/play button on me headphones in my pocket…) it has a list of the 20(?) most recent play/pause events, so it’s easy to go back to where it accidentally started playing. It also handles separate locations in different books, which is a must if you (like me) listen to different books in different contexts.

Michael Adams July 27, 2018 um 9:15 am

I use Audible or Libravox ebooks in the iBooks app. I prefer reading but there are periods in my life where I can’t focus on the words or I just don’t feel like reading. It also helps with books I want to read but that I find long and tedious, like Stephen King’s It.

Doug Johnson July 27, 2018 um 9:23 am

I download audio books from the public library via RBDigital and Hoopla onto my iPhone. I only listen to them on long road trips through my car’s bluetooth phone/radio connection. I liked the day when audio books were on cassette tape since it forced a condensed version. Complete readings now take far too long to listen to. I often look for shorter books for that reason. For some books the narrator makes all the difference! (David Sedaris is great, for example.)

Greg Weeks July 27, 2018 um 10:18 am

I listen to audiobooks in the car. I have an android app on my phone called Listen Audiobook Player that I use for Overdrive and Librivox books. I use the Audible player for the few I have from Audible. Occasionally I borrow an Audible book from one of the guys I work with. That usually comes on a shuffle. He has more MP3 players than I can count.

S. J. Pajonas July 27, 2018 um 10:58 am

I have an Audible account and I buy my audiobooks exclusively through them (for now). I listen while out on walks, driving in the car by myself, knitting, cooking dinner, and cleaning. I also listen to them at 1.5x speed so that they don’t drag on. They work great for me, and audiobooks comprise the majority of my reading now.

Elizabeth Barham July 27, 2018 um 11:26 am

The narrator of a story can make or break an audiobook. Good narrators provide realistic, discernable voices for each character and portray the various moods interwoven in the story audibly. For instance, I’m currently listening to Thomas Mann’s Death and Venice and Other Storie for which Paul Hecht does an excellent job making the book a joy to listen to.

I generally like to buy the Kindle version along with the Audible version so I can switch between reading and listening. While listening I normally do busy work such as washing the dishes or hanging up clothes. Lately I’ve been relaxing by listening to books while working on jigsaw puzzles. It’s a lot of fun.

Tom S July 27, 2018 um 2:41 pm

Audible, on my phone. Also have a number of ebook+audiobook combos which I read with Kindle app on my phone.

I usually listen at 1.5x speed, I’d probably go to 1.75x if the app supported it. With some narrators I need to slow it down. I spend a lot of time driving.

One of my use cases is to help me when I wake up and cannot get back to sleep. Ten minutes later or less and I’m out. If it is something I am interested in I set a bookmark so I can go back and find out what I missed.

Harmon July 28, 2018 um 8:10 pm

I retired five years ago, & have been taking 4 or 5 mile daily walks since then, so that when I die I will be in good health. I use an iPhone to listen.

Until recently, my audiobook listening has been while I take those walks, or while in the car. For walking, I generally use bluetooth noisecancelling earphones. For the car, I have a radio which allows me to automatically link via bluetooth to the last thing I was listening to on my iPhone.

Lately I have found it necessary to do physical therapy exercises at home, & to ice down afterwards. So that period of time has been added to my audiobook regimen.

My audiobook sources are Hoopla, my local library, and Audible. As with my paper books, I wind up possessing more books than I can do more than hope to read, someday.

The apps I have found useful are dedicated ones like Overdrive & Hoopla (haven’t tried Libby), iBooks, and Audible.

Years ago, we would take road trips with the kids, & listen to kid friendly books. We still do some listening in the car when we have longer drives, but it’s hard to find books that we are both interested in, & at the same time.

So for me, audiobooks have not in any fashion displaced reading. Rather, they give me additional reading time. I’ve found that different kinds of reading occupy different media. There’s some overlap, but generally, I use my Kindle for "bubblegum reading" like mysteries & science fiction, (Although I have found that for some reason, Proust works great on my Kindle); audiobooks for things like popular history, literature (My first time through Ulysses was via audiobook, as were the Iliad & the Odyssey), and instructional material (Spanish language learning, and Teaching Company courses); and paper for essays, short stories, and, of course, books that aren’t available electronically.

So basically, audiobooks have made it possible for me to read at times when I didn’t used to be able to read.

Debby July 29, 2018 um 1:22 pm

I download mp3 podcasts (including converting YouTube videos that were originally radio shows to mp3s) and listen to them via speaker on a Posh brand Android phone bought a few years ago for ~$40. I use Maple mp3-playing software (which remembers where I stopped and has a list of previous positions). I haven’t tried listening to any books yet, but some of the podcasts can be upwards of 3 hours. I usually listen before bed or if I wake up in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. I can see taking the Posh on a trip if I also take along a battery recharger (battery life isn’t great, so I’m looking for an alternative Android player).

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