Your guide to audiobooks

01 July 2015

Audiobooks are a great, portable way to enjoy books. Here's our guide to downloading and listening to audiobooks.

While the term ‘audiobook’ might seem confusing, it’s simply a recording of someone reading a regular book on CD or in a downloadable digital format. 

Actors or even the books’ authors read some of the most popular bestsellers. Others are read by volunteers or professional narrators.

Far from being intended to replace physical books or eBooks, audiobooks are a fantastic way to ‘read’ when you’re unable to actually do so – whether you’re exercising, cooking or if your eyesight makes reading a printed page difficult.

Getting started with audiobooks

If audiobooks sound like an interesting prospect, the best way to get started is to try a couple for free. 

Public domain books are books whose intellectual property rights (copyrights) have expired, or which have been released to the public for free by the authors. 

Thousands of classics are now in the public domain and are available to download through sites like LibriVox. Its enormous catalogue is sorted by release date, title and author, or you can use their search engine if you know what you’re looking for.

Once you’re suitably convinced and want to download more recent audiobooks you will have to pay for them, but they’re not expensive. 

Audible, an Amazon-owned company, has more than 180,000 audiobooks for sale and the number grows every day.

Read our guide to apps for reading and writing.

Listening to audiobooks on your mobile device

Producers of audiobooks know most readers will want to listen to them while they’re on the go and have made it easy to download their selections on to mobile devices. 

The most common way to do this is to download an app that connects you to the audiobook provider. Some of the most popular apps include:

  • Overdrive, which gives you access to audiobooks available from libraries. You will need to have a library card or student ID to use this service.
  • Audible is available for Android users at Google Play.
  • iTunes has a huge library of audiobooks. If you have an iPhone, you’ll find the app at the App Store on your mobile device. If you have an Android device, you can download an app from Google Play that allows you to sync iTunes to your Android device.
  • The LibriVox app on iTunes or Android gives you access to 15,000 of the library’s most popular audiobooks.
  • Scribd’s library of audiobooks is available in an app on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Scribd is a subscription service. You can try it for a month for free. After that, you have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

The beauty of audiobooks is that you can indulge whenever you like. 

Vacuuming isn’t nearly so painful with a good book and if you’re out walking, you’ll love having a great story to keep you company. 

In fact, you might find listening to audiobooks while walking or exercising will keep you working out for longer. 

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.