DATA DOCTORS

Tips for accessing and listening to free audiobooks

Dec 31, 2022, 5:45 AM
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Q: How complicated is it to access and listen to audiobooks from a library?

A: Audiobooks are a great alternative to reading physical books because you can multitask by consuming the information as you’re driving, cleaning the house or working in the yard.

Audible is the largest and most popular audiobook service these days and despite its huge collection of available titles, paying $8 to $15 a month may not be in everyone’s budget.

Fortunately, there’s likely a free or very low-cost option via your public library that you can learn about by going to their website and looking for a link that refers to audiobooks or an eLibrary of some sort.

You won’t have access to everything that’s available on Audible and you may have to wait for the title to be returned by another reader, but it’s something that as a taxpayer, you’re already paying for.

The specific instructions and any potential fees will be explained along with the various options you have for downloading and listening to them.

You will also need a library card, so if you don’t have one look for the link to get signed up. If you have various libraries you can choose from in your area, I’d suggest starting with the largest municipalities as they are more likely to offer larger catalogs.

In some cases, you may already have an app on your phone or tablet that provides you with access to the library, but if not, there are many options available to get started.

Most of these apps will also allow you to load them on multiple devices and sync up, so you can start listening on your computer and pick up where you left off using your smartphone as you’re driving.

Hoopla

This cloud-based digital library works with many larger public library systems and offers those with a library card a lot more than just audiobooks. If you prefer to read the books yourself, you can download eBooks along with videos, music, magazines, comics and TV shows depending on your library’s available catalog.

This is a free service if you have a registered library card with one of their associated libraries, which is why it’s important to visit your library’s website before you choose which app to download.

Libby

This option will closely resemble the features available in Audible, such as changing playback speed, setting sleep timers, skipping forward and backward, placing bookmarks, viewing chapters and downloading books for offline listening.

This free service will also only work if your library is using their OverDrive service, which you can look up using your zip code at this website.

LibraVox

This non-library option for free audiobooks isn’t going to have as extensive of a catalog as most libraries, but it doesn’t require you to have a library card either.

This service offers over 50,000 books that are in the public domain but the audiobooks are read by volunteers, so the production quality isn’t going to be as high or consistent as the other options.

If you love the classics, this may be all you’ll need for many years of listening pleasure, just manage your expectations since this is a volunteer group providing audiobooks.

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Tips for accessing and listening to free audiobooks