I probably get more questions about audiobooks than anything else, and one of the biggest questions is about where I get my audiobooks.
Oh, I’m glad you asked (you did ask, right?)! There are four major sources we use at our home, and I’m sharing the pros and cons of each, plus some more details about how we use them.
Books on CD
Pros: Free from your library, easy for kids to use
Cons: Dealing with all those discs and keeping track of them (and listening on regular speed. . . )
We almost always have a book on CD in our car – I choose one that we can all listen to together and whenever all three of the older girls are in the car, we turn it on and listen. If we’re missing a girl, we’ll listen to Circle Round episodes or music. The girls also listen to their own audiobooks on the CD players they have in their room during quiet time or as they’re falling asleep at night. It’s just so straight forward.
In the past, I would upload audio CDs to my computer, then import them onto my iPod or phone and then delete the files when I finished the book and returned it to the library, but now there are so many digital options that I haven’t done this in probably five years.
I personally never listen to books on CD because they feel so slow to me after the digital ones where you can crank up the speed, plus it’s fairly rare for me to drive by myself.
Pros: Massive selection (no one has a better selection), easy to use, can buy books without a membership, big sales periodically
Cons: Not free
Oh, I could just talk about Audible all day long and how awesome and easy it is to use. You can get a membership for about $15 a month (Bart and I share a membership) and that gives you one book a month, or you can choose a more expensive plan to get more books. You can sign up for a free month trial here with two free audiobooks of your choice (and I know that sometimes when you go to cancel your free trial, it’ll offer you three months at half off, so about $7 a month, which is hard to beat, although I don’t know that it always happens).
Anyway, you just download the app, pick your books.
Also you don’t have to have a membership to buy Audible books off of Amazon. When they have a good sale, you can pick up audiobooks for $2-3 each and they’ll drop right into your app, ready to listen to, no membership required (if you want a more detailed tutorial on that, let me know and I’m happy to write about it!).
I love Audible because the books never expire since you own them, and there is easy bookmarking, speed adjustment and all the other little bells and whistles in a super easy-to-use app.
Whenever there is a sale, I stock up on children’s books that we can listen to in the car.
Cons: Collection depends on your library, hold lines can be super long, limited time to listen before your book expires (usually 7-21 days)
This is my most used source for audiobooks because FREE (but also hold lines longer than Space Mountain). Most libraries use this system and it works just like a library – you can check out a certain amount of books per card, you can place a certain number of holds, and if you’re on hold, you have to wait until it comes in.
There is an Overdrive app, which I’ve used for years, but there is also now a new app called Libby (I don’t pretend to understand why they have both – maybe they are phasing out the Overdrive app? I have no idea). Libby is much better, I think, because you can add all your library cards to one account instead of having to log in and out if something is on your child’s card versus your card, and it’s just a nicer user-interface, more along the lines of Audible. You can bookmark books you want easily and you can see all the books you have checked out, but you don’t have to download them all, which is really nice since they can take up a lot of space.
Libby doesn’t seem to work yet on the girls’ Fire (Overdrive does), but it does work on our Nook and iPad and my iPhone. And I only use Libby now on my phone – never Overdrive anymore (it was pretty glitchy at first and was making me nuts, but now they seem to have worked out the kinks).
Of course, I have the constant problem that I have with the physical library which is that I can’t find ANYTHING that isn’t on a hold list and then everything on my hold list comes in at once, so basically it’s constant feast or famine for me with Overdrive and I can’t tell you how many books I haven’t QUITE finished before they automatically expire and return to the library. I do love Audible way more because of that.
Overdrive also has e-books and Libby can send them straight to your Kindle.
My girls use this Overdrive or Libby on their tablets and listen all the time before bed or just carry them around the house and listen while they’re doing puzzles, coloring or building with Legos.
Pros: Free, no hold lines
Cons: Limited selection, can only use a certain number per month (usually 10)
This is the one I use the least, but it’s a nice backup option and I know other people LOVE it. It’s also through your library and has an app, but instead of hold lines, you just have a limit on how many checkouts you get per month (usually 10) and it’s applies to movies, books, or audiobooks. I’ve found for my libraries, at least, the selection is significantly smaller, but it’s great for classics or when you just need something free to listen to RIGHT NOW.
This is my favorite topic, so I’m happy to answer any questions, no matter how tiny! And I’m sure there are things that I missed that I’m not even thinking of because I’ve used all of these services for so long, so feel free to ask about any audiobook issues and I’ll try to answer!
P.S. The most popular section in my Raising Readers course is about audiobooks for children and how to incorporate them into your family life, so if you’d like more information, sign up for this free course!