Audiobook Discussion: Preferred Listening Formats

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disussion on a bookish topic-01

When we think about books, there are so many formats available — paperback, hardcover, ecopy, etc. For people who like to listen to audiobooks, there are also several formats — CDs, cassette tapes, playaways, library downloads, Audible downloads, etc. Not only have we come a long way with physically reading books, but we’ve also come a long way when it comes to listening to our favourite books.

Let’s talk about them!

Cassette Tapes
Do they make these anymore? Around the library where I work, I’ve seen lots of language tapes on cassette’s but it seems like audiobooks have become obsolete in this area. The awkward thing about cassette tapes is that they’re two-sided, so not only do you need a cassette player, but you have to be on the ball when it comes to flipping the tape over and changing the tape. In fact, while these still exist, I don’t really consider them in the running as an option anymore.

This is the best way to get audiobooks at my library. They’re convenient and widely available, but are best for listening to (I find) only when it comes to getting them from the library. When it comes to BUYING audiobooks, this is NOT a good option. I mean, a physical book could cost from $8-$30, whereas an audiobook on CD can cost upwards of $40+. Just like listening to cassette tapes, you really have to be listening and into the story when it comes time to change the CD — it’s not so bad in the car with a multi-disc player, but if you’re using a discman, you’ll need batteries AND it can be pretty awkward if you’re going for a walk with your book. Basically, you need to make sure you have enough story to listen to on a disc, unless you want to cart around ALL of the discs. For me, it’s the batteries — I love my discman, but reusable batteries are KEY when it comes to listening on it!

I’ve never bought a playaway audiobook, but I have gotten them through the library. A nice thing about them is that there’s no way to scratch it, unlike the CDs, BUT it still requires headphones and batteries. AAA batteries. Who has lots of those on hand? Of course, the pro to playaways is that they’re small — around the size of an iPod — so it’s easy to take with you on the go. A con is that it can’t be listened to in the car, which is a big negative for me, since I like to be able to listen to my books EVERYWHERE.

Library Downloads
As you can tell, I get a lot of my audiobooks through the library. Just like I can get ebooks through the library, I can also download audiobooks using Overdrive. This is super handy and costs the price of a library card (which is free in some places!). The one downside to this is that there are different formats for Macs and different formats for PCs. This can get irritating when that ONE BOOK you really want is only available for the computer you DON’T have. Also, when your time is up for your loan, it gets returned — usually you can’t renew an audiobook download.

Audible Downloads
This is one of my FAVOURITE ways to get my audiobooks. Not only is Audible affordable, but they have a great selection of audiobooks. A big con for me is that it’s almost TOO easy to get audiobooks through them. One thing I recommend is to listen to a sample of the book you’d like to purchase before buying, since the quality can vary! And reading the reviews on the narrator and quality help, too.

I think, ultimately, I love any audiobook that is portable and listenable everywhere I go. This is why I love listening to books on my iPod — I can listen while cleaning the house, driving in my car, or even while mowing the lawn. It’s not cumbersome and awkward, and it’s easy to get audiobooks to listen to! CDs are great, but the only way I would get a CD audiobook is through my library since money is DEFINITELY something I take into consideration before purchasing!

What is your favourite way to listen to audiobooks? Have I missed any other ways to get audiobooks?



22 thoughts on “Audiobook Discussion: Preferred Listening Formats

  1. I have never listened to an audio book but I really want to try, I love reading in the bath but sometimes I drop my books, thankfully I have never dropped my kindle in but an audiobook would be handy for this thanks for the post. I have been considering audioble

  2. I tried so hard to listen to an audiobook and I just don’t have the mind for it. My mind kept wondering and I would think about stuff and realize that I had no idea what I had just listened to. It took me about 3 days to accurately listen to about 10 minutes of a book!

    • Oh no! I have to be in the right mindset to listen to an audiobook — if too many things are going on, I’ll just put on music, since I can’t concentrate! They’re not for everyone, but if you can listen to one, they’re great!

  3. I haven’t tried listening to audiobooks before, but it sort of blows my mind to see how many options there are for listening to them – I had no idea! I think I just sort of assumed they were all just CDs. Whoops! 😛

    • I know, right? I just recently learned about Playaways, which are pretty cool. CDs can be so big and awkward — and expensive if you want to buy them yourself. You should try listening to one!

  4. I agree with you about the CDs. My car has a 6-disc changer, but it’s still a hassle when it’s time to change out those 6 discs, lol. Audible downloads are definitely my preferred audiobook format these days. Easy and inexpensive!

    • They are quite inexpensive! Though I go through spurts of listening to audiobooks and have a TON of them piled up on my iPod! I guess that makes it easy to pick one when the mood strikes!

  5. I think the narrator means everything in an audio book. I know within a short amount of time whether I like a narrator or if I don’t. If I don’t like the narrator I usually don’t listen to the audiobook and just read the book by myself.

  6. I only do library downloads, using Overdrive. One thing I’ve found is that if you’ve already transferred it to another media from the computer – say an iPod – then even if when it expires you can keep listening.

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  9. I have never listened to an audiobook before! I don’t know if that makes me weird. But I don’t think it’s ever really occurred to me to do so, as I prefer holding an actual hardcover book in my hands. I may try one someday though, but it’ll have to be a good one 🙂

  10. Great discussion, Kristilyn! I’ve only ever listened to a few audiobooks, mostly because I can be super picky about the narrator and if the book has a lot of detail I prefer to read it, but I still like the format.

    UGH I can’t imagine trying to listen to an audiobook on cassette! First of all, I can just imagine these being ruined so easily at a library. Better get those pencils out, haha. I think my library has purged all their cassettes fortunately.

    CDs are SO expensive like you said (although I think I saw the TFiOS one for like $15 which is a steal!!). I have an iPod so a CD is extra work because I have to rip it to my computer and then transfer.

    Playaways for some reason have never really appealed to me, but I think they are great option, especially for those whom listening to an audiobook may not be possible otherwise because they can’t afford a iPod, discman, etc.

    Right now library downloads are the only real way I get audiobooks. My library has a good selection and it is so easy. Speaking to different formats, I really like when it is in a format that I can listen to on my phone because then I don’t have to carry around my iPod too!

    I seriously wish I had been more open to audiobooks at the start of my university career since I spent SO much time on the bus (sometimes 1.5 hrs!). I could have read so many more books, haha.

    • Ha ha … oh yes! The pencils! I wish I had saved some cassettes and a player for my kids … just so they can see what it was like in the “old days.” 🙂 $15 is quite the steal for an audiobook on CD! I usually see them for OVER $30 … it’s ridiculous! I wonder why anyone buys them on CD. I think the best way to listen to an audiobook is a way that’s easy and portable. That’s why I love anything that can go on my iPod — either Audible downloads or the library. It’s great!

  11. I have only ever listened to audiobooks via download. Most being Audible. I agree with you, they keep it affordable and have an amazing selection. Plus I can listen on my phone or computer. The only downside (although I might just have not figured out how to) is that I can’t sync between devices. So if I’m listening on the computer, I can’t pick it up on my phone without checking where I am and changing it manually. Unlike my ebooks on Kobo.

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My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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