Here are my 3 reasons why audio books are awesome:
One: The Performance Factor
Adding audio books to my repertoire has only enriched my reading life. The performance almost always enhances my enjoyment of the book. Check out two of my favourites, the Amelia Peabody mystery series, which feature Barbara Rosenblat’s hilarious vocal characterisations and Graham Green’s The End of the Affair, narrated by the swoon-worthy Colin Firth.
Two: Expansion of Reading Timen
Audio books have upped the number of books I can get through. While I’m reading a text-based book, I usually have a different audio book on the go, effectively doubling my reading quota. I read books on the couch or in bed, but I listen to audio books in the car (alone) or while I’m ironing, walking or exercising, which brings me to…
Three: Exercise Motivator
Exercise and I have long had a rocky relationship, but audio books have smoothed the path. I rarely look forward to rising at 5:15 AM for that walk, but my eagerness to get back to the audio book draws me out of bed–even if it’s dark and raining. It’s like having a PT (personal trainer) on my mobile phone. Okay, actually it’s not, but it does get me moving…
Buts & Howevers…
My one issue with audio is that it can slow me down. I have had a couple of books where the plot was so deliciously good that the performance frustrated me. I wanted story, and I wanted it fast. I ditched the audio in those cases, got the book and greedily zoomed through to the end. It is worth noting that many audio apps have a speed control to help with this problem.
Aren’t Audio Books Expensive?
If the thought of audio books conjures up an image of bulky, expensive CDs, I’ve got good news for you. With the new generation of audio books, it’s “out with expensive CDs, in with free apps”! Anyone who has a smart phone, MP3 (iPod) or a tablet can download a free app and start listening. No CDs to handle and store, and no worries about scratching–it’s a digital file on your computer or in the cloud.
Instead of shelling out over $45 for a clunky CD set, sign up for a monthly subscription and get top shelf audio books that cost less than the average (Australian) price of a printed paperback!
When Your Browser Becomes a Bookshop
There are a few great web-based services available, like Audible.com or Audiobooks.com, where premium audio books cost members about $14 each. You can usually find a trial offer that gives you your first book free. You get a credit each month and you can pick from tens of thousands of titles. Heavier readers can access meatier plans.
I’m on a plan for one audio book a month from Audible.com, which is linked to my Amazon account. It’s been a breeze. I signed up for a plan that gave me the first 3 months for ~$8 a month. After that, it reverted to the normal price of ~$14/month. On two occasions (out of a total of 36 so far) I didn’t like the performance, but I was able to return the titles and pick something else with zero hassle.
Readers who are staunchly anti-Amazon may like to try Audiobooks.com. Their service features the ability to sync across devices. For example if you listen on your smartphone in your car and your laptop in your office, the Audible.com app will automatically make both devices find the last spot you listened to. (Losing your spot on audio is a lot more problematic than losing your page in a book!)
The Big Question Is…
Is one audio book a month enough? Actually, no. I could easily fit in two (or more!), but I’m trying to exercise some self-control here. Really, I am! When I don’t have an audio book to listen to, I supplement my listening with free podcasts about books, publishing, writing, and more. (Watch for an upcoming post on my favourite podcasts for readers and writers.)
Too bad the podcasts don’t count towards my reading count!
Got a favourite Audio Book?
Leave a comment so I can add it to my To Listen To List!