Thoughts on Audiobooks

I’ve listened to one and a half audiobooks now and thought I’d pass along my thoughts on them. Several years ago we also listened to the Focus on the Family Radio Theater productions of Chronicles of Narnia and Les Miserables, but I think those were dramatizations rather than readings.

In general I would still prefer actual books. I just prefer reading that way and I like being able to mark specific passages, to linger over some spots or reread them, or trip a little more lightly through others. Plus I can read with other people around and still be available to them: with an audiobook, I either have ear buds in or am in another room, so I tend to listen to them when alone. That’s not really a problem unless it’s a really exciting part of the book and I’d love to listen to a few pages but can’t!

However, audiobooks have helped immensely with driving time. It’s about a 20-minute drive to my mother-in-law’s place and to a few other destinations, and I’m hardly aware of the time going by, whereas beforehand I was chafing at the time in the car not accomplishing anything except moving from one destination to another. I’ve also started listening to them while getting ready in the mornings and want to incorporate them while exercising or house-cleaning.

I don’t think I could listen to a non-fiction book that way that wasn’t in story form. Those kinds of books take a little more concentration, anyway, and I tend to mark passages, place sticky tabs all over to try to help me retain information from them. I could listen to them and glean something, I’m sure, but I just wouldn’t get the full benefit of them just by listening. That might be a good way to review a book I’ve already read, though, or preview one I plan to read.

I am more of a visual learner. A few times just when my attention has lagged or I’ve forgotten something in the audiobook that I can’t then go back and look up (without listening to significant portions again), I’ve wondered how difficult it must have been for people to retain Scripture when they primarily heard it, when they didn’t have written portions for everyone, when the Colossians got a letter from Paul that was read at their assembly. I don’t know how easy it would have been to make copies. They were probably more trained to really listen then than we are now, but I am still glad to have lived in an era of the written word.

But I find I am enjoying audiobooks immensely at times when I can’t get into a paper book.

I started a trial subscription on Audible.com that is $7-something a month for the first three months, and you’re able to get one credit (which usually gets you one book) each month. After that trial period it goes up to the regular $14-something a month, which seems pretty high to me. If I am going to pay that much I’d rather get the actual book. I’m not sure why they’re that expensive: I know the author needs to be paid royalties and the reader and producers need to be paid, but it seems if you’re making one file that multiples of people can download, that would be less expensive than making multiple copies of the actual book. So I may drop the Audible account after that, I’m not sure.

I have discovered some good resources in learnoutloud.com and http://gobible.com/. They’re regular prices seem expensive but they do have good sales or occasional free downloads.

How about you: do you know of any good resources for audiobooks? Do you enjoy them? What is your experience?

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10 thoughts on “Thoughts on Audiobooks

  1. Within the past couple of months I have really gotten into listening to audio books, too. I like to listen to them when I am trying to fall asleep, as it sometimes can take me awhile and it gives my mind something to think about. I generally get them from the library on CD, but a lot of libraries now have a subscription for patrons that allows them to check out free downloadable audiobooks. I would ask at your library. I have not used this service yet because I haven’t found any titles my library has that I want to read. It’s definitely something to look into, though!

  2. My first and last experience in using audio books was thus: I had read all of the books in the Left Behind series and was endeavoring to read the eleventh book, The Mark. It just didn’t hold my attention and I was pretty determined to keep up with the series. (I have a tendency to start things and not finish them *feeble grin*) Anyway….I got the bright idea of listening to it on my way to work and on my way home. (I worked at the library at the time.) Welllll…..the first evening on my way home, I began listening to the audio book. It wasn’t until I was almost to my exit, that I realized I was only going 40mph on a 65mph highway!! This wasn’t going to work! So, I thought I’d try listening to it at home when I was alone and doing housework, but my mind wandered so easily. The conclusion? Audio books just aren’t for me. I need the printed page in front of me to concentrate on. ๐Ÿ™‚ But our library does have an extensive selection of audiobooks and many, many patrons love them!
    Oh, but Barbara, I do listen to programs on the radio when I am in the car and they hold my attention, i.e. Focus on the Family, Family Life Today.

  3. Audiobooks certainly are not for everyone; I had a really difficult time learning to listen to books because, like you, I’m a visual learner. But with an over 90 minute commute each day, I quickly appreciated the availability of audiobooks in every genre. $15 may sound like a lot for a book until you try to purchase some of these outside of Audible. Books on CD are often in the $30 to $50 range (esp long classics). But I use my library and inter-library loans extensively for free titles. Another source I like is ChristianAudio.com. You don’t have to subscribe monthly and prices are still quite reasonable. Also, they often have free-to-download books. Both services offer frequent $4.95 sales.

  4. I like audio books – they allow me to do more than one thing at a time, but I have to admit sometimes I do get distracted. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I sent an email to you about my absence… hope you got it?

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  6. I LOVE them and do find that some are actually better than reading a book, but I do sometimes get lost, and I do miss being able to mark and remember and SEE certain things.

    Here’s my big tip about audible. When you cancel (I think you have to call them to do it) you can opt to stay a member with a $10 yearly fee. That gains you access to the sales. I’ve done this for several years. Many times a year they have a sale and the books are $5 or $8. I’ll buy 3 or 4 at a time this way

    http://christianaudio.com/ has a free download every month! I’m glad that I saw this, because it reminded me to download February’s pick!

  7. Like Jennifer I also love audiobooks but it can also depend greatly on who’s doing the reading. Recent audio releases are much better produced than those of a few years ago and add little things like musical transitions or even background noises that can really add to the experience without being over the top. Reviewing audiobooks can be difficult though, without the ability to flip back through the book to find key passages or remember a scene.

    I get a lot of my audiobooks from the library, I take them home and “rip” them to MP3 so I can listen on my phone. My library also has downloadable audio books. I listen on my commute but also while doing things around the house, and while walking the dog. I’ve increased my book intake greatly in the years I’ve been listening to them.

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