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What is an Audiobook?

Whether you’re a teacher who is preparing a classroom for students or you’re just browsing through book selections online to read yourself, when you go to purchase the titles you’ve decided on, you may have noticed a few different options in regard to the type of books you can order. Audiobook is likely one of those options. What is an audiobook? How do you use them? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more so that you can decide whether or not you would like to invest in audiobooks. 

Audiobooks Explained

Audiobooks are pretty much what they sound like: voice recordings of someone reading the text of a book. Rather than reading the text, you would listen to the audio recording. Audiobooks can either be exact, word-for-word readings of the text, or they can be abridged (shortened) versions. 

Typically, audiobooks are purchased and downloaded online; the same way that you would purchase and listen to digital music. You can also purchase audiobooks from online sellers, such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble. There are several public domain sites that offer audiobooks, too, that allow you to download and listen to the recordings for free. Most public libraries offer audiobooks online that you can browse, download, and listen to; all you need is a library card to do so. Even sites like Spotify feature audiobook sections. (It’s such a lucrative business that many authors find it great to make audiobooks for their books.)

How to Listen to Audiobooks

Audiobooks are digital audio files and they can be played on a large array of electronic devices, such as a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop, a personal computer, or any other device that can stream audio files. Audiobooks are available in several audio formats, too, including MP3, Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), and Windows Media Audio (WMA). The vast majority of media devices are capable of playing any of these types of files. 

There are also several websites and apps available where you can access free and paid for audiobooks, some of the most popular of which include: 

  • Audible. Audible allows users to purchase audiobooks on an individual basis. There’s a monthly subscription service, too, which offers one free audiobook per month. The Audible app is available for Android and iOS devices. 
  • Apple Books. iOS and macOS users can browse, download, and listen to audiobooks with Apple Books. The app is available on the Apple store. 
  • Downpour. This commercial audiobook site is similar to Audible. You can purchase and download audiobooks individual, or you can sign up for their monthly subscription, which provides access to downloads on a monthly basis. 
  • AllYouCanBooks. This website provides users with unlimited access to dozens of downloadable audiobooks. It’s a commercial site, meaning that you have to pay for the files; however, the first month is free of charge. 
  • Project Gutenberg. This website is popularized for offering a wide selection of free public domain audiobooks.
  • Nook Audibooks. Nook is Barnes and Noble’s audiobook site that offers a large selection of audiobooks for sale. 
  • OverDrive. OverDrive is another app that provides users with access to thousands of audiobooks, which are made available from more than 30,000 local libraries. 

Reasons to Listen to Audiobooks

Now that you have an idea of what audiobooks are and where you can find them, you might be wondering why you might use them instead of or in addition to traditional print books or eBooks. Here’s a look at just some of the benefits of using audiobooks. 

  • Time savings
  • Can listen anywhere
  • Enhanced retention for auditory learners
  • Ease of use
  • Serves as interpretive reading models
  • Acts as a read-aloud model
  • Improved listening skills
  • Introduces genres of literature that you may not consider otherwise