I travel quite a bit, at least once or twice a month. To break up the monotony of airports and flying, I like to listen to audiobooks. Cassettes were a pain because they were too bulky, especially since I like to listen to unabridged editions of books. CDs scratch too easily when it comes time to change them.
Then someone told me about http://www.Audible.com, where I could download audiobooks to a compatible MP3 player.
How to Sign Up
It was easy to get started. I chose the $15.95 per month option (this was more than 2 years ago). For that amount, I got two audiobooks or titles, no matter how long they were. So I listened to the unabridged edition of the latest book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series for less than $8. The regular audiobook price was $52.50—and that’s discounted from the $75 retail price.
I liked this player, mainly because it was smaller than a regular cassette player and I could quickly add more memory to it by buying additional multimedia cards (MMCs). This allowed me to put the entire book on the Otis in two sections (which is the norm for unabridged titles from Audible.com).
Audible.com offers fiction and nonfiction books plus a variety of other listening choices, such as:
If you’re unsure of becoming a member, there are picks under $10 (some are decent). But I think you’ll want to become a member for either $14.95 per month (one audiobook plus one radio, magazine, or newspaper selection) or $21.95 per month (two audiobooks each month plus your choice of 50 percent off the first month of membership or a free MP3 player—a Creative MuVo, which retails for about $60).
Still not sure? Audible.com also offers a first audiobook for just $9.95 so that you can see what a deal this is. No cassettes, no CDs, no more hassles.
My Husband Likes It Too
I made the mistake of telling my husband about Audible.com. He stole my Otis and took over my account, so I went ahead and got another account just for myself (this time I got the new MuVo player).
It’s much smaller than the Otis (just under 3 inches tall and 1.38 inches wide) and fits in my shirt or pants pocket when I’m traveling, which is great. It’s also good for when I’m gardening, walking, or just want chill and listen to a book. This lets me keep the earbuds in my ears or hanging around my neck. In addition to the earbuds, it also comes with a car cassette adapter and has more memory than my old Otis did—128 MB. It easily holds one unabridged book and some music. I also like the audio on the MuVo better than the Otis. It’s clearer and cleaner.
The one thing I don’t like about the MuVo is that I don’t know how much time is left on a book I’m listening to—there is no viewing screen like there was on the Otis. But that’s a minor complaint. The MuVo is USB-compatible, so you plug it directly into your USB port—no wires necessary.
Choosing a Format
When you select a book to download to your compatible player, you can choose from formats 1, 2, 3, or 4. Format 1 takes up the least amount of space, but it is really scratchy and warbled to listen to. That’s the best way I can describe it. Formats 2 and 3 are better in quality and the amount of space used. Format 4 takes up the most space, but it is the cleanest and clearest of them all. Unfortunately, my MuVo doesn’t accept format 4. But format 3 works well for me.
Once you decide to download to your player, the AudibleManager program starts on your desktop or laptop (this program is part of the installation process that is on the included CD-ROM). Here you keep track of what audiobooks you’ve downloaded to your desktop or laptop, which are then transferred to your player. You can also plug your player in to your desktop or laptop to find out how much time is left on the book you are listening to, if you don’t have a way of viewing that info on your player (as with the MuVo).
AudibleManager also keeps track of any radio, magazine, or newspaper subscriptions you may have. There are also a host of other options and commands to keep everything in order. You can even keep track of and add music selections to transfer to your player here.
Search for Titles
What impresses me most about the Audible.com Web site is that you can search for books by author or title, peruse the various bestseller lists on their site, and even cruise around Amazon.com to see if a particular book is available as an Audible.com file. There are some other nifty things, like upcoming books (with release dates), staff picks, and unabridged selections. You can also view audiobooks by category. Under the category, you can learn the new and notables, the bestsellers, the editor’s picks, and even subcategories to make your search easier.
Benefits of Audible.com
What’s the best thing about Audible.com? Their books are never out of stock.
J. A. Hitchcock is a freelance writer and the author of Net Crimes & Misdemeanors (CyberAge Books, 2002), which is presently being updated.