Nobody buys a small case of cassettes, that is, a “book on tape,” anymore. Nor do many people buy cDs. Some people download audio files, but a lot of folks stream the narration over the ether. Some people like a subscription service, while others like to build their own library of literary treasures. In short, the whole question is nuanced.
So here’s a guide, organized by philosophy. Scroll down to the heading that suits you. The headings are:
- Free. I’m allergic to spending money.
- Local. I want my local bookstore to get my business. They rock.
- Sampler. I like choices. Also, I sometimes quit listening halfway through a book.
- Owner. I like to know what I have, thank you very much.
Shady internet sites. No.
However, your local library has gone digital. If you don’t have a library card, get one. If you are there anyway, you might as well ask about the best way to check out audio books.
If talking to a librarian is inconvenient, check out the library web page. Or, try the app “Libby” from Overdrive, the main distributor of audiobooks to libraries in the US. This will work, virtually, just like checking out a book. For example, you won’t be able to listen to the audiobook if someone has already checked out the library’s copy.
My local library uses Overdrive. Some libraries might use smaller, international, or niche distributors like 3LeafGroup, Axiell, Baker & Taylor, Bibliotheca and its app Bidi, EBSCO, Follett, hoopla and its app hoopla, MLOL, Odilo, Perma-bound, Ulverscroft, and Wheelers. You don’t have to know that list, but your library has to get its audiobooks from somewhere, and it’s often one of those.
Local store option.
A lot of us like to not give Amazon extra business when local options are available. If you have a local bookstore you love, give them a visit or check their web page. Likely, they will use Libro.fm, a service that allows local bookstores to sell audiobooks.
Libro.fm gives you the option of purchasing books one at a time (owner style) or paying a monthly fee for unlimited access to everything (sampler style). At their web site, you choose the book store you wish to support, then your owner-vs-sampler style. Then you “shop” and do the usual e-commerce stuff to get your audiobook.
When I want to support an author and my local bookstore, this is what I do.
Sampler (subscription) style.
Surely, the option to bail out is a good thing. Also, the freedom to be indecisive. One way to do that with audiobooks is to pay by the month. For each payment, you’ll get tokens (even if the specific company doesn’t call them tokens) for audiobooks. You spend your tokens on what you want.
Representative services include: 24symbols, Anyplay, Audible (Amazon), Audiobooks.com, AudiobooksNZ, Bookmate, Cliq, Downpour, eStories, Kobo (Walmart), Libro.fm, Nextory, Scribd, Storytel, and Ubook.
I confess that I like to look at a list of what I have. Items not on the list are things I do not have. I like this simplicity. If you just want to buy it and keep it, here are your options.
Apple, Audible (Amazon), Audiobooks.com, AudiobooksNOW, AudiobooksNZ, BajaLibros, Beek, BingeBooks, Bokus Play, Downpour, eStories, Google Play, Kobo (Walmart), Leamos, Libro.fm, and NOOK Audiobooks. Some companies appear here and also in the Sampler category because they offer both methods of purchase.
Cheap! Sale! Deal of the Century!
I won’t recommend most fly-by-night outfits, but Chirp is associated with Bookbub. They are in the business of promoting books with discounted time-limited offers. The discounts are, in fact, significant. The downside? An email that lists discounted books, arriving every day. So, if “every day” doesn’t feel like spam to you, consider it!
These lists are not meant to be exhaustive. In fact, they are merely the places where Ace Carroway and the Great War is available in audio format. Want to know more? Did I bugger something up? Let me know in the comments.