Audiobooks - IMNDA


May 26th, 2020

Audiobooks are voice recordings of a book. They can be word-for-word readings of the text or shortened versions.

Audiobooks have surged in popularity in recent years. They allow people to enjoy books whilst completing other tasks. They are an excellent choice for anyone that finds holding a book or reading text difficult.

Books on CD

Audiobooks on compact disc (CD) are available to buy from bookshops or online retailers.

Using CDs requires a CD player to use them and they can be bulky as they involve many discs. They are expensive compared to Digital Audiobooks. But they are available for free from your local library. They are best suited to people with limited access to other audiobook technology.

Digital Audiobooks

Audiobooks are available online as digital files. You download these to your computer or audio device to play them.

They generally download as MP3 files (a widely-supported format). This means you can copy and play them on a wide variety of devices and without a specific app.

Digital audiobooks are usually cheaper than CDs. They are less fuss, as you don’t have to deal with changing discs, and can use on a device you are comfortable with.

Online Subscription Services

Online audiobook subscription services are a popular way to listen to audiobooks. You pay a monthly fee which allows you to buy a certain number of audiobooks per month (usually one or two).

To access these services you need a device that can download the services app or access to their website. This requires familiarity with the technology. It is best suited to people who already use and enjoy audiobooks.

Streaming and Downloading

Streaming an audiobook means to download as you listen. This is a good option if you want to start an audiobook straight away. You’ll need a device that can connect to the internet and access to a streaming service.

Many streaming services allow you to download to your device for offline listening. This allows you to listen to your books after your access to an internet connection has ended.

Streaming services can be paid or free. Audiobook files can be quite large. If you are doing this on-the-go you’ll need a strong connection. Be warned it can use a lot of mobile data!

It’s best to download while connected to WiFi. This is a good option to try audiobooks without the commitment of a paid service or the limitations of CDs.

 Recommended Services

Public Libraries

Your local library will stock a range of audiobooks on CD which you can borrow for free. The library can also request titles they don’t have on the shelf.

As a library member, you also get free access to BorrowBox. This app allows you to borrow and listen to audiobooks on your phone or tablet – anytime, anywhere. You can borrow up to 5 audiobooks at a time, for a loan period of 3 weeks.


The world’s leading audiobook retailer, Audible is a subscription-based service. Monthly fees start at £7.99 GBP. This allows you to buy 1 audiobook per month from their extensive range of 200,000+ titles. You can cancel your subscription anytime and keep any audiobooks you’ve purchased. They have apps for almost every device, including Apple, Android, and Windows.


LibriVox is an online catalogue of free audiobooks. These books are read by volunteers. The copyright has expired on these works, so, for the most part, they are recordings of classics.

Google Play Books

Google Play Books offers a good range of titles at attractive prices. You buy titles and listen through the Google Play Books app or website. You can also move audiobooks to other devices to listen how you want.

The Book Depository

The Book Depository offers a huge range of audiobooks at great discounts with free delivery.

Which to Choose?

The best way to listen to audiobooks for you depends on your needs.

Do you listen to audiobooks regularly or only now-and-again?

Do you have a smartphone or tablet to use audiobook apps, or will you need them on CD? How much do you want to spend on audiobooks, or do you prefer free options?

Your public library is a great way to see if audiobooks are for you. Borrow an audiobook from your library or use the BorrowBox app to test them out. All you have to do is be a member to access these services for free. Your library team will help you get set up.

If range and instant access are important, and you can afford it, then Audible is the way to go. They have an excellent selection, easy-to-use apps, and a ‘cancel anytime’ option.

Audiobooks are a great way to enjoy books for all readers.

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