June is, according to a fair few sources including Publisher’s Weekly, audiobook month. Personally I think the whole point of celebratory months (and weeks and any other random time period you want to mention) has pretty much lost whatever meaning it might once have had given that in America alone the audiobooks are competing with flags, several diseases, potty training, pharmacists declaring war and a whole lot more besides.
However, I am a dedicated fan of audiobooks so I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about them.
Simply because I love being read to. Always have done. I create much more vivid images of the characters and places depicted when I hear a story than when I read one. I remember more about a book for longer too if I’ve listened to it. If I won a lottery I would hire Stephen Fry to be my personal reader (assuming of course that everyone does indeed have their price).
These days I primarily listen to audiobooks as an incentive to get me exercising. The deal I do with myself is that if I exercise (usually the hour-long walk to work) I can listen to someone reading me a great story. No walking, no story (I could read print books on the bus but I’m usually standing up and hanging on for dear life with both hands while the driver takes corners like he’s Michael Schumacher). There are some days where the only thing that gets me out of bed is wondering what is happening in my latest story.
I also allow myself to listen while doing other things I don’t much want to do such as driving long distances, doing housework/yardwork and sitting in waiting rooms of various ilks.
Where do I get them from?
I occasionally borrow audiobooks on CD from the local library but their collection isn’t extensive and as I don’t have a portable CD player I’d have to listen to them at home which would not get me to exercise (of course I would never copy them to my iPod because that would be illegal and I only read about crime I don’t commit it).
I also occasionally buy books on CD which of course offers a greater range but they’re usually around $40-$50 each so I look for specials. Of course it’s equally illegal to copy these to my iPod. So I don’t. Naturally.
Since December 2008 my main source of audiobooks has been audible.com (I use the US based site though there is a UK version too). The site offers books for download in a variety of formats to suit almost any device imaginable (iPod, other mp3 players, GPS unit, most phones etc). Any books you buy are available in your library forever so if you download it to a device then lose the device (or upgrade it) you can just download it again from your library.
You can buy books one at a time for the listed price however that can be quite expensive. A more economical way is to become a member and purchase credits. Almost all the 60,000+ books at audible are available to members for one credit (a very few books require 2 credits). I use the monthly membership option for which the fee is $US14.95 for one credit per month or $US22.95 for two credits per month. Depending on the exchange rate that works out at about $13-15 a book (I’m a two credits a month gal) which is about a third of the cost of buying an audiobook on CD here in Australia. Members often get access to special offers too (such as 3 for 2 deals and the occasional free book if you follow audible on twitter).
My only gripe about the site is that some of their books are not available to ‘people in my geographic region’ but that’s not audible’s fault (grrrr @ publishers). However I have added 53 books to my account since joining audible 18 months ago so I seem to have no trouble finding titles I like.
In short, I adore audible (and no they haven’t paid me to say this).
Some of my favourites (all the audiobooks I’ve reviewed and rated 3.5 or higher)
- A Cure for all Diseases by Reginald Hill (narrated by Jonathan Keeble)
- A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters (narrated by Stephen Thorne)
- Borderline by Nevada Barr (narrated by Barbara Rosenblat)
- Company of Liars by Karen Maitland (narrated by David Thorpe)
- Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (narrated by Stephen Pacey)
- Dancing for the Hangman by Martin Edwards (narrated by Jeff Harding)
- Dead at Daybreak by Deon Meyer (narrated by Saul Reichlin)
- Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie (narrated by David Suchet)
- Hell Hole by Chris Grabenstein (narrated by Jeff Woodman)
- Mad Mouse by Chris Grabenstein (narrated by Jeff Woodman)
- Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill (narrated by Jonathan Keeble)
- Ritual by Mo Hayder (narrated by Andrew Wincott)
- Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie (narrated by David Suchet)
- Search the Dark by Charles Todd (narrated by Samuel Gillies)
- Slay Ride by Chris Grabenstein (narrated by Jeff Woodman)
- Still Midnight by Denise Mina (narrated by Katy Anderson)
- Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo (narrated by Kathleen McInerney)
- The Amazing Mrs Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman (narrated by Barbara Rosenblat)
- The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (narrated by Jane McDowell)
- The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connolly (narrated by Michael Brandon)
- The Midnight Choir by Gene Kerrigan (narrated by John Cormack)
- The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (narrated by David Suchet)
- The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill (narrated by Steven Pacey)
- The Redemption of Alexander Seaton by Shona MacLean (narrated by Crawford Logan)
- The Saladin Murders by Matt Rees (narrated by Daniel Philpott)
- The Way Home by George Pelecanos (narrated by Dion Graham)
- Tilt a Whirl by Chris Grabenstein (narrated by Jeff Woodman)
- Too Many Murders by Colleen McCullough (narrated by Bill Ten Eyck)
- Undertow by Sue Grafton (narrated by Judy Kaye)
- Valley of the Lost by Vicki Delaney (narrated by Carrington MacDuffie)
- Whack A Mole by Chris Grabenstein (narrated by Jeff Woodman)
- White Nights by Ann Cleeves (narrated by Gordon Griffin)
- Winter of Secrets by Vicky Delaney (narrated by Carrington MacDuffie)
And here are two great books that I don’t think are available in print as they were each written especially for audible by a swag of top notch thriller writers and are both narrated by Alfred Molina
Happy audiobook month to all.