Library Info

The Quest for Audio Books Made Easy

Sometimes all I want to do is shut my laptop, silence my smart phone, power off my iPod and read a good book. But then there are times when I need those gadgets to help me get through a good audio book so I can busy my eyes and hands on others things like the long car trip to Kansas (Oklahoma can be a killer) or while I'm completing the odious task of washing dishes. These are great times to put on an audio book. Luckily, our audio book options improve constantly.

You can, of course, being by browsing the library's collection and picking up a book on CD or checking out this list of Audie Award winners. I've taken to listening to Oscar Casares' novel Amigoland on CD while I'm getting ready in the morning, eating a meal or cleaning up.

However, as much as I hate to admit it, the library isn't the only place to find great audio books. Below I've listed a few other places you might consider before that next long road trip. offers free, downloadable audio versions of books in the public domain (books with expired copyrights). Some of these have been recorded by groups of volunteers but most of them have been digitized by The Gutenberg Project and recorded by Libriovox . The site itself makes browsing a visual treat. It offers pictures of the cover, a short description of the book, a preview of the audio book, two options for downloading, recommendations for similar audio books, and reviews of the specific recording of the book. I especially like that the reviews take the reader into account. Sometimes a book can be phenomenally written and then read by a dud. Bummer. Check out the page for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Another Libriovox-powered site, Librophile resembles Books Should Be Free is many ways and includes many of the same titles. One exception is that Librophile allows users to listen to the book right from your browser, a handy little feature. However, I find the site to be less appealing visually and the search feature felt clunky to me. In addition to the public domain content, Librophile also sells audio versions of popular books. Unfortunately, the cost reflects publishing costs plus the cost of a professional reader. Hence, an audio-only copy of Stephen King's Under the Dome would cost you $52.50. Yowza.

If you're more interested in educational material you might consider skipping over these earlier options and trying They exclusively provide copyrighted materials which means users must be charged for downloads. Based on a quick glance at the site, it looks like the cost can be as low as $5 and $20. The site doesn't have the same visual appeal as Books Should Be Free but it is also searchable and has books broken down into categories. For more non-fiction books, you might also consider The National Academies Press



Michelle Cervantes said:

The Round Rock Public Library also has access to downloadable eAudiobooks through NetLibrary.  These are available on the library's databases and web sites page.  

# March 24, 2010 8:34 AM
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