Discovering Your Audiobook Potential

I remember being in elementary school, going to the library on the weekends, and picking up a few CD audiobooks to listen to in the car. I discovered my favorite book this way: Wildwood Dancing. I read the paper copy a couple years ago, but I couldn't help yearning for the particular ambiance the narrator, Kim Mai Guest, brought to Juliet Marillier’s retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." 

Audiobooks emerged for blind readers in the 1930s. They were recorded initially on records, then, like most media, converted to tapes then CDs. Now, online libraries and sellers have revolutionized audiobook accessibility and convenience for book lovers.

Listening to stories has not only provided me with entertainment pretty much 24/7, but it’s taken away all of my excuses for not reading. I have a book playing in my headphones when I am walking to or through anywhere, like class, the store, my car, the park. Listening to thriller audiobooks is my favorite entertainment while I’m running. Do you enjoy taking baths? Try playing a romance audiobook while you relax in the warm water. More importantly, we all have those few assigned books that we cannot fathom how we are going to move through them. My answer: audiobook. 

In general, my “reading speed” has picked up significantly since I’ve made audiobooks a regular part of my day. I’m able to bounce through multiple books per week, sometimes a book a day, depending on how long the audio is. 

If you’d like to begin your journey into the audio reading world, then take my hand, and I’ll provide the best paid and free services, and some recommendations on first books to pick up. 

The best service, in my opinion, and most well known is Audible. Run by Amazon, the subscription is $14.95 a month, which gives you 1 audiobook credit, 2 Audible Originals, and about a 30% discount on all other titles. A unique feature to Audible is their extensive collection. They not only carry audiobooks, but also exercise programs, podcasts, and plays. With an Audible membership, you are eligible to also have Audible Escape for only $6.95. Or you can opt to only subscribe to Escape for $12.95. This particular service is exclusive to romance books. You are allowed unlimited access to their romance library. 

Scribd is the next best option, cheaper, $8.99, and “unlimited” access to their selection, but if you listen to more than about three audiobooks, certain audiobooks will be restricted and you won’t be able to listen to them until the next billing cycle. However, Scribd also offers regular ebooks and pdf material. 

While most of the subscription services do have free trials, if you want a fully free experience, then I would check out Libby or Overdrive. Essentially they are extensions of our own public libraries and you are able to “check out” the audiobooks you want. However, you should be aware that you must be patient since they function just as any library would, so you will have to wait for certain titles to be returned. 

My favorite audiobooks are often the ones with a full or extensive cast where you have a different narrator for each character. If you are also interested, then check out: The Illumine Files by Jay Kristof, Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, or The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman.