Audio Books - Buy, Download or Rent?

May 6


Kwan H Lo

Kwan H Lo

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If you want to grab a copy of audio book, should you buy, download or rent? Which method is more suitable for you?


Audio books are becoming more and more popular in recent years partly due to the busy lifestyle of city dwellers and the popularity of MP3 players and iPods. Unlike paperback books,Audio Books - Buy, Download or Rent? Articles you can listen to an audio book anytime anywhere, while you are jogging, shopping, or doing exercise. There are several ways to grab a copy of audio book. You can buy an audio CD, download a digital audio file, or rent the audio CD. So which method is suitable for you?

Buying an audio book is more or less like buying a paperback book. Audio books on CD are available in many online book shops and audio book clubs. These audio CDs are playable in any regular CD players. Alternatively, you can also buy an audio book MP3/CD player which is equipped with book navigation system, forward and reverse skipping by title, chapter or page, and re-read replay function. Audio CD costs anywhere from $20 to $60; and you can keep it as long as you want.

You can also download an audio title from one of the audio book resellers. Downloadable audio books are recorded in MP3, WMA, Playaway and other digital formats. The files can be played in your PC and portable device (iPod or MP3 players), or you can burn it to CD. You can choose to buy and download individual audio titles, or pay a monthly subscription fee and receive one to two free downloads per month. Downloadable audio books are usually less expensive than audio books on CD. Joining a download plan can help you save even more. Downloadable audio books are a good choice for international listeners. You can download the audio titles instantly without paying for shipping cost.

Some web sites also provide free download service. For example, the LibriVox project allows volunteers to record some classic titles in the public domains. The recordings are available for free download. However, the performance of these volunteers may vary greatly. Some are good, some are monotone and some may overact. In addition, the chapters are usually read by different volunteers. Books in the public domains refer to anything published in the U.S. prior to 1923, so you will not have a chance to download the current bestsellers either.

Other than buying or downloading an audio book, you can also rent audio books online. Audio book rental is like DVD rental, you pay a monthly fee and rent one to three audio books at a time. There is no deal time or overdue fee. Once you finish listening to the audio book, you can return it in the pre-paid envelope and receive the next one on your book list. To avoid shipping delay, you should join the two at a time plan. After you finish the first book, return it and the third book will be shipped to you while you are still listening to the second book. Audio book rental is very suitable for avid audio book listeners. Theoretically, you can rent unlimited audio books paying less than $30 a month. Unfortunately, audio book rental is only available in the U.S., Canada, and some European countries. They are not available for international listeners.

Whether you should buy, download or rent an audio book depends on your lifestyle, where you live, how often you listen to audio books, and your budget. Regardless of the method you choose, audio books are affordable, convenient and easily accessible. If you enjoy reading paperback books, you should give audio books a try, it will be an entertaining and enlightening experience.