Monday, January 9, 2017

Finding Affordable Audio Books

    I always have a book going in the car. For me it takes a CD, since my car doesn't have Bluetooth. I don't want my car to die. But I'm looking for any excuse to buy a car that lets me listen to digital books -- which are books in mp3 format.

     You can listen to digital books on any portable device -- your ipad, Kindle, most phones. I have used my Kindle with headphones to listen to audiobooks. It works fine, but if I'm driving I pay too much attention to the technology. Better (for me) to have a built-in system in the car.

     Without digital listening, the library is the best bet. I take out three or more at a time, and if I'm going on a long trip the local library extends the due date.

     Retail sellers of physical audiobooks include Penguin Random House Audio, Audio Bookstand, and Goodwill Books Online.

     Yes Goodwill. They don't have all books every day, but a search for J.K. Rowling's books (on CD) showed they were less than half the price of other sites. Sure, it's more convenient to order a book today for $55 than to check back to see if you can get it for $22 later, but that's a big price difference.
     In a pinch, I stop at a Cracker Barrel and rent books on CDs. You pay an up-front deposit, but if you return the book you pay only about $3.50 per week and get the deposit back. I'd rather pay that than listen to blaring music or argumentative talk radio. (See the bottom of this post for the Cracker Barrel program. No, they aren't paying me. I just love affordable options.)

     My audiobooks are published in digital format only. A CD set would be cool, but I don't see people paying $45 for my books. Using Audible (an Amazon company that provides digital copies) they are under $20.

     The HUGE advantage to using Audible is that Amazon sometimes offers people who buy the Kindle version a discount on the audio version. I just looked at Behind the Walls (Jolie book 6), and it shows the Kindle version for $2.99 and audio narration added for $1.99.

        Buying the Audible book and a Kindle copy means reading is synced between devices -- if you read ten percent on the Kindle and switch to the audiobook, it starts you in the same place. Amazing.

     An author has to permit Whispersync, but many do. You do need a Wi-Fi connection to make the sync.

     How does Audible work? The one-month free trial lets you borrow one book (of any price) for free. After that it's $14.95 per month for one book, and you get 30% off of others. Very affordable compared to buying audio CDs. (You provide a credit card, so you have to remember to cancel within 30 days.)

     What happens if you cancel an Audible membership? The books you bought are still available to you. Very consumer-friendly. See the Audible Help Center.

     Why did I write this today? My mom would have been 95 today (January 9th) and she lost most of her sight because of MS. She would have gone bonkers without the Library of Congress' Talking Books' Program (what she called the service for those who cannot see or hold a book). It's officially called the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and is free if a person provides appropriate information. Your library will have info.

     I hope you have what you need to enjoy listening to a book. If you want to listen to what I deem the absolute best audio books, borrow a copy of any of the Harry Potter books, as read by Jim Dale. You will be mesmerized -- as we are by a good book.

 Cracker Barrel Rental Program
Purchase a Books-on-Audio title at full retail price at any of our over 630 locations, listen to it, and return it to any of our locations for a full credit less a $3.49 per week exchange fee (plus tax where applicable). Book prices range from $9.99 to $48.00 (plus tax where applicable) based on the number of cassette tapes or CDs (or size of the book). If you are not able to return it to a location you may mail it back to Guest Relations at P.O. Box 787, Lebanon, TN 37087.
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*** If you are an author who wants to know how to produce audiobooks at no cost, check my blog post on audiobook production. It's a lot of work, but very rewarding.
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