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5 ways to listen to books

Five ways to listen to books on your mobile devices. You download the books and listen with their app, even when off-line. I describe two subscription services, a place to get really cheap books, and two ways to get free audiobooks.

Many of you use your mobile phones to talk or text other people. I don't often use mine that way often. I have my business line and am at my desk throughout most days. When I'm with another client, I don't want to be disturbed. However, I use my phone to listen to books and podcasts. Since I like this so much, I imagine someone else might like it too.

I'll present five good options for great audiobooks at bargain prices.

Subscription Services

You probably know about Audible. Amazon owns them and they have a large selection of audiobooks. They have thousands of audiobooks in their Plus catalog. For $7.95/month, you can listen to as many books as you like. Here's a sample of the books in that catalog. Be sure and check out the categories on the left. These are usually older books or books by new authors who are trying to build a following. You won't find many bestsellers here. However, you might find lots of books you'd enjoy.

Audible has monthly plans, but their full catalog, with all the bestsellers and so forth, has an annual plan of 12 credits for $149.95/year or 24 credits for $229.50. Normally, it’s one book for 1 credit. So essentially, the annual plan gives you audiobooks for $12.50 each and the 24-credit plan gives you 24 books at about $9.50 each. Given that these books normally go for $25-$35 each, this is a good deal. You're issued 1 or 2 credits a month and they expire after a year.

You also have free access to the 11,000 books in Audible's Plus catalog. Though the credits expire in a year, you can use them to buy books, then cancel your subscription and listen to the backlog for a couple of years. Your account stays open even after you cancel the subscription. They also offer monthly plans with 1 or 2 credits a month, but at a higher price per book.

Audible provides an app for your listening pleasure.


Kobo is a subscription service from the second largest e-book company on the planet. Kobo is my preferred bookstore. Their monthly service is similar to Audible's but cheaper at $9.99 a month. You get one credit toward a book in their extensive (but not as extensive as Audible's) catalog. They have their app for listening anywhere after you've downloaded your title. As with audible, you can cancel your subscription and you retain access to all your audiobooks.

Bargain books

Chirp is part of BookBub, which I wrote about in a 2015 article. Essentially, with BookBub or Chirp you create an account and select your favorite authors and the types of books you like to read (or listen to). Then you get a daily email with great bargains within those categories or by those authors. Much of the bargains are from newish authors, or authors promoting a series and will put a book in the series that no longer sells well. It's like the old bargain bins bookstores had near their front doors, perhaps they still do. Sometimes bestselling authors put some books in Chirp because it's excellent advertising. Remember, an audio download costs very little for each additional download. The expenses are in the original production. So, the bargain book is really an advertisement for the author, which is not just free, but it gives the author a small return. This hopefully creates interest in an author or series. I've been a member for almost 2 1/2 years and bought 56 audiobooks from them. The recordings are always excellent. My costs range from $1.99 for a boxed set of the first three books in a series by an author I like, to $4.99 for books by some of my favorite authors. Most books are $2.99 or $3.99. So far, I've enjoyed them all.

Chirp also sells audio-books at normal prices. Chirp provides an app for your listening pleasure.

Free audiobooks

Using Libby app on your phone allows you to download audiobooks for free! It has many current books. I have no problem finding books on my wishlist. Just get a library card then an overdrive account and link it to your library system. So, for example, I'm linked into the entire Washington County Library System, not simply the Sherwood Library. Then download the Libby app for your iPhone or Android phone and sign in. If you need help, the physical librarians in the actual physical libraries are usually kind and helpful.

I'm listening to the fourth book in an SF series I really like and it doesn't disappoint. I've read or listened to the first three books, so this was next on my list. Books are checked out for 21 days and the library removes them from your device then. I've always finished early and "returned" the book when done. However, you can manage your books. This audio SF novel doesn't have anyone waiting, so I could probably renew it. I didn't because I'd finished it well before the three weeks were over.

LibriVox is a free service where volunteers read books from the public domain which you can download for free. Some of these recordings are amazingly good. There are dramatic re-enactments with multiple voice actors, and also, simple normal volunteers reading an important work. They've been going for 17 years and have 17,000 audio recordings. I'm old enough, so some of their authors (like Kurt Vonnegut) seem modern to me, but are in the public domain. Some of the recordings are short stories, others could be collections of books. You download simple mp3 files and play them on any device. No cost. No membership. No subscription. All these books and the recordings are in the public domain. There is no copy protection.

Date: October 2022

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