Monday, June 1, 2009

Downloading Audiobooks for You and Your Kids

Do you listen to music on your iPod or MP3 player? Did you know that you can download audiobooks and listen to them the same way? You don’t have to carry around a box of CDs any more. Here are the ways that I’ve had the best experience: has a vast collection of audiobooks, for children and adults. Audiobooks for children cost between $10 and $20, depending on the length. While this might seem expensive, I would argue that $15 for 7 hours of entertainment is good value, especially if it can develop a love of books. I’ve found the downloading and listening process through a smooth experience. You can either download Audible software, or access your files directly from iTunes.

The best feature of the Audible books is that my MP3 player automatically remembers where I paused listening to my book. Even if I listen to music or another podcast, when I go back to my book - it remembers! I've even found that I can skip or rewind by chapter. You don't have to keep all your audiobooks on your MP3 player - the Audible site keeps your library for you. They have an extensive selection for kids and young adults - you can either search on their main Audible site, or you can also search on Audible Kids.

You may notice that when you buy some audiobooks through iTunes that they are actually an production. You might want to compare prices between iTunes and Audible - I've heard that Audible is much less expensive.

NetLibrary: At, you can get a free (yes, free!) membership through many local public libraries. The best way to navigate to their site is through your local public library - that will prompt you to enter your library card and give you a free membership. On the Oakland & Berkeley public library websites, look for “online resources”. Follow the links to e-audiobooks.

Through NetLibrary, you can download and “checkout” MP3 files for three weeks. You then transfer the files to your MP3 player, or just listen to them on the computer. Unfortunately, only some files work with iPods. If you are an iPod user, look for files that have the MP3 label on them. These will work to transfer to your iPod. NetLibrary is acquiring mroe and more audiobooks that will work with iPods.

The biggest drawback is that you can’t save your place on these files if you listen to music after listening to a chapter of your book. One of our MP3 players (the Creative Zen) allows us to "bookmark" a place on a song or file. So each time we listen to an audiobook, we bookmark the spot when we finish. Then it's easy to begin again at the same spot. Otherwise, you have to write down the place you finished (minutes) and fast forward to this spot again.

Overdrive: Overdrive Media also provides free, easy access to downloadable audiobooks through many local public libraries. In the Bay Area, San Francisco Public Library and MarinNet public libraries subscribe to Overdrive. The best way to navigate to their site is through your local public library - that will prompt you to enter your library card and give you a free membership. San Francisco Public Library's website has a link for e-media right at the top.

Using Overdrive, I was able to download The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan for my daughter in 15 minutes - from start to finish. It was a smooth, easy process. I started at 7pm, and by 7:15 she was listening to her story! Overdrive has titles from Listening Library, Books on Tape, BBC Audio, and more. For example, you can get the Twighlight series on audio through Overdrive (at 15 hours per book!). Once again, the software does not automatically save your spot and you do need to look to see if your title is iPod compatible (again, it will be marked "MP3"). But I just noticed that The Kabul Beauty School is available (iPod compatible), and have added this to my wish list. I love free audiobooks!

Have fun, and let me know if you have any luck downloading audiobooks. I'm always looking for good books to listen to!

1 comment:

  1. My son LOVES listening to audiobooks and the NetLibrary collection is fabulous. And yes, he has lots of little post-its on his nightstand reminding him of where he left off....

    -Lara Starr