I’ve made an amazing discovery recently. OK, technically it’s not a discovery since somewhere in the back of my mind, I was already aware of this. My local library carries audiobooks!
A library? With books? You don’t say!
I’ve had a lot of success with my reading initiative over the last year and I’m off to a good start this year. Reading is something I did a lot up until around when I started college. Then, somewhere in that period, I started to hate reading. Also I had much less time for reading. Classes had lots of required reading in textbooks, the internet was growing at a staggering and exciting rate, I had been forced to read lots of boring garbage in High School for classes. A lot of factors killed my enjoyment of reading.
I’ve gotten over a few of these hurdles these days however. I no longer have classes or textbooks, though I still like to learn. The internet is still as exciting as ever but I’ve gotten pretty streamlined for my internet consumption process. I’ve grown and matured a bit so many of those stodgy boring books in high school that I breezed past with skimming, cliff notes, and educated guesses are the ones I’m picking up and reading today. Also there was my discovery of audiobooks.
I have a huge love of podcasts, I occasionally get hooked on NPR, I generally enjoy (educated) speaking audio. I added the educated part because I can’t stand morning radio shows. That’s really the best way to phrase the difference here. I realize there are many people who suggest that audio isn’t “reading” but it really is. It’s the same content consumed in a similar manner. It’s not like say, the movie version of a book in any way since a movie will be heavily abridged and often edited to put a new spin on old ideas. We consume books audibly as children, we like to attend lectures and consume information on audibly on the radio or in classes, all of the content is there, it’s very much the same.
The main difference is, and this is why I enjoy it, I can do it while driving. Reading while driving is difficult and hazardous. I will admit that I occasionally read my Twitter stream through my Blackjack while driving, and trust me, it doesn’t work too well and I don’t do it in heavy traffic.
But i can listen all day long while driving. In fact, podcasts and audiobooks are probably better for my driving habits. If I listen to music with lots of energy behind it (as I often do) it tends to inject energy into my driving. I end up getting tickets or driving like an asshole as a result. With audio information, I tend to drive much safer and generally prefer to be in the car longer so I can finish off the chapter or podcast episode.
But I’m moving off subject a bit. Back to the library. Last year, I had a bit of a problem with acquiring audio books. There are several resources available for free audiobooks but many of these are older stories which are often very very short. Alice in Wonderland is only like a half hour in audio form. Robinson Caruso is the same.
I went through a few audiobooks I found on Podiobooks.com, a donation based service (I need to get around to affording a donation to Mr. Myke Bartlett for his wonderful How to Disappear Completely). Still, I wanted to read other more mainstream books that I had been itching to get into.
I looked into Audible.com, a storefront style service for audiobooks as well. The pricing seems a bit steep for me. They seem to only offer books through subscription plans (though I may be wrong). The cheapest plan is something like 15 bucks a month for what amounts to one book. Even when buying print I tend to wait for paperbacks since I can spend 5-10 bucks on a book instead of $20-25 on the hardcover edition. So, $15 is too much for me to afford, especially at this time in my life when I’m generally broke.
This is where the library comes in. Sure enough, my local library carried books on CD.
Unfortunately, they also carry Books on Tape. This is something to be careful of. If you have a way to play tapes, great, got for it. Sadly, I’ve expunged all of the tape players from my life save the one in my front room stereo. This is not the ideal place to listen to audio books. The first thing to remember when checking your local library is to make sure you’re getting a format you can use.
Maybe you don’t have a CD player though. Not as uncommon of a proposition as one might think in today’s digital world. Don’t fret. You can always rip that CD to your MP3 player. Unfortunately, this is where the legality gets a little fuzzy. My personal stance on it is, you have the CD copy from the library, what difference does it make what format you listen to it in. On the other hand, “The Suits” want you to pay for every format you listen to your audio in.
On that note, I won’t specifically recommend any particular software for this purpose but I will say that Google is great for finding things!
Anyway, the first disappointment I had though was the selection. I live in a pretty small rural town and our library is decent but it’s not huge or great. This disappointment was quickly dissipated however at the discovery of what they call the “Rolling Prairie Library System”. Basically, most of the libraries in the area from schools to hospitals to stand alone libraries, including two LARGE libraries in Decatur and Springfield, are part of a system that let you effectively order books to be delivered to your local library. This system is apparently slightly limited however as I discovered when I looked up David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It’s available in audio form but it’s only available for pick up at the Effingham library. I’m not sure why certain books would only be available in certain libraries and I’m irritated but I’m willing to take that trade off.
Plus I can manage my library orders from anywhere through the internet.
So if you’re like me and looking for a cheap and easy way to get into audiobooks, try your local library. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised!