Back in May, I wrote a 3 Ways post that talked about ways to use your mobile music player; way #3 was titled “Read When You Can’t Read – with Audiobooks”. I’m a big fan of audiobooks – they make mundane tasks like mowing, exercising (ugh) or watering the garden (which in this drought has been more frequent than I’d like) a lot more enjoyable by making them more productive.
My favorite source for audiobooks is Audible. Like its parent Amazon.com, Audible simply makes finding and buying books ridiculously simple. As a result, I recommend it often.
(DISCLAIMER: I’m a paying Audible subscriber; no freebies here, I just happen to like the service.)
The question I’ve been hearing lately, though, is now that I’ve bought the book, how do I listen to it?
Well, there are two avenues to pursue – one is through the music player on your mobile device or computer, the other is using an Audible App.
If you’re an iOS person, iTunes has some functionality built into it that integrates Audible audiobooks into a playlist. When you purchase an Audible book, there’s an option to download it using the Audible Download Manager – which has a feature that will automatically inject it into your iTunes library. Pretty nifty – except now the device has to be synced with the desktop iTunes library. To me, that takes it from nifty to being a little bit of a hassle. And besides, who listens to audio books on their computer?
Enter the Audible Apps
To me, the easiest way to enjoy Audible is through their apps – available for Windows/Mac computers, but more importantly for all of the mobile devices – Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone. The best part is they’re free.
Once the app is installed and you log into your Audible account, your entire Audible library is available for review; from there, it’s simply a matter of selecting the books you want to download to your device. Here’s an image of my (not so vast) library, sorted by title.
To download a title, simply tap on the gray download arrow (one is displayed for any title that is not present on the device) – which then reveals the Download button.
I recommend that downloads be done over a wifi connection versus using a mobile data plan; notice that this 4-hour book is 56MB in size – a pretty hefty download for mobile bandwidth. Once the downloading begins, you can actually start listening to the book once the green Play arrow appears.
Once the download is complete, the gray download indicators disappear. If you’ve started a book, the app will tell you how many hours/minutes remain for that title.
- A Chapter Listing is available at the top right (so you can keep track of where you are).
- Swipe controls, for “button-free” playback options.
- A Sleep Timer, which will stop the playback after X number of minutes or at the end of a chapter (one of my personal favorite features). Think of it as story time for adults.
- Playback speed controls, which let you listen at double speed (particularly handy for listening to news reports).
- A 30-second rewind, to pick up when interruptions happen.
- Bookmarks, to make note of favorite sections.
The 30-second rewind is the only feature that’s comparable in the Music Player app.
The only negative to using the Audible app is that it may not integrate with other components to which your mobile device is paired or connected – say, a car audio system. In my case, I can use the app, but none of the car audio system’s controls will work with it. A small price to pay.
Simply swipe from side to side (doesn’t matter if it’s left-to-right or right-to-left), and a Remove from Device button will display.
This will only remove the title from the device – not remove it from your Audible library. That library will always stay with you – displaying all of the titles you’ve purchased.
If you’ve not considered audio books in the past, give Audible a try – and they’ll let you do it for free. Visit the website, shop around a little, take a look at their plans and member benefits (there are several of each).
And if you’ve got any great audio book recommendations, be sure to share them with us in the comments.