What Are Audiobooks?

Free yourself from the printed page

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Audiobooks are voice recordings of the text of a book that you listen to rather than read. Audiobooks can be exact word-for-word versions of books or abridged versions. You can listen to audiobooks on any smartphone, tablet, computer, home speaker system, or in-car entertainment system.

Audiobooks are usually purchased and downloaded in the same way as digital music and video. They can also be purchased from online bookstores or downloaded free from public domain sites. Most public library systems offer audiobook downloads online—all you need is a library card. Even Spotify has an audiobook section.

How Do You Listen to an Audiobook?

Available as digital audio files, audiobooks can be played on a wide variety of consumer electronic devices, including phones, tablets, and computers—any device that supports streaming audio..

When you purchase or download audiobooks from the internet, they usually come in one of the following audio formats:

  • MP3
  • WMA (Windows Media Audio)
  • AAC (Advanced Audio Coding)

Most media devices are designed to play any of these file types.

There are many websites and apps that provide access to audiobooks, both free and paid. Here are a few them:.

  • Apple Books: Audiobooks for iOS and macOS devices are available for download on the Apple Books app and store.
  • Audible.com: While audiobooks can be purchased individually, Audible offers a monthly subscription service that provides one free audiobook download per month. Use the Audible app for Android or iOS to listen on mobile devices.
  • AllYouCanBooks.com: This site offers unlimited access to thousands of downloadable audiobooks. This paid site offers the first month for free.
  • Project Gutenberg: This site is well-known for offering thousands of free books in the public domain. Not as well known is its growing collection of human-read audiobooks that can be accessed over the internet.
  • Downpour: A commercial audiobook site that sells individual audiobooks as well as a monthly subscription, if you'd prefer.
  • Nook Audiobooks: Barnes & Noble's audiobook website sells a large collection of audiobooks.
  • OverDrive: An app that offers thousands of audiobooks from more than 30,000 local libraries.

History of Audiobooks

Audiobooks can be dated back to the 1930s. They were often used as an educational medium, found in schools and libraries. Before audiobooks were available digitally, talking books, as they were often referred to, were sold in physical form on analog cassette tapes and vinyl records. However, with the invention of the internet, a vast selection of audiobooks were available from many different sources.