Ask Jo: Audiobooks

I had a blog reader ask me how to listen to audio books.  Well…first off I want to say that there are many different ways and really no one right way.  They question also made me realize how much I take for granted.  I too often have questions like this and then pester my kids until someone explains it all to me.  I’m not nearly as thankful that they provide tech services for me as I should be…anyway…

This is what I know about listening to audiobooks.  Like I mentioned in the first paragraph, there are many ways…you only need to find one that works for you.

First off…you need an electronic device or computer or ipad or kindle or smartphone or something to listen to the book on.  Before buying anything, make sure it will work for where you want to listen.  For example, I listen a lot while I’m at the quilting machine.  A quilt often takes several hours to machine quilt and listening helps pass the time.  For me, I want something in my pocket that can plug into headphones as the quilting machine is loud.

In the past I had an MP3 Player.  For that I downloaded the book to my computer and then onto the MP3 player.  This is a good option if you don’t have a smartphone but want to be portable.


a downfall is…this uses headphones and you might not want to be on headphones all the time.

Then you might also want to purchase a speaker


If you’re sitting and cross stitching and what to listen, it might work for you to use a laptop you can move to the chair you sit at or a ipad/kindle type device might be helpful.

Me..I mainly use my smartphone.  It can do what I want and is portable.  My phone is really a universal tool for me and I can’t imagine life without it anymore.  Could I live without it, yes.  But it does so many things for me including helping me listen to audiobooks.

I do have a speaker and use it frequently especially in my quilting room when I am at a domestic machine. I highly recommend a speaker.  I have THIS ONE….I can turn it on and got to the bathroom in the next door room and still hear.   I can dig in the closet and still hear.

I do have this nice set of headphones for when I’m at the quilting machine.  I don’t like earbuds.  Mine I got before bluetooth was around…you can find them HERE.  Nowadays I would recommend bluetooth.

So after your device is picked, you want to know the program you are going to use to get your books from.  I love Audible (Find it HERE) but it is a paid subscription.  If you want to get the books you really-really want, you might need Audible as some publishing companies don’t let libraries purchase books anymore.  (Bummer I know)  If you purchase a book here, it’s yours.  Take as long as you want to read it.

Most public libraries have some sort of online option for listening to books.  Our little local library doesn’t but the county library does.  I use that.  The problem, the wait list to get a book I want is for FOREVER.  No joke.  It can be a six month wait and then the book has to be listened to in 14 days.  This frustrated me so I heard about a different option….

That is Hoopla.  Well you have to have a library that supports Hoopla to get it.  I find a library an hour away from me that allows out of county residents to use the program.  I was thrilled as here, I don’t have to wait for books and I get the books for 21 days.  If I don’t finish in that time, I can check out the book again and my place in the book was kept.  I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE this….but it’s kind of hard to find rurally.

For smartphones, computers and ipad/kindles, you have to download the program you plan to listen from so you go to the play store and get the app.  All of these are free apps.  Download it and put in your account information that you set up…now you’re ready to download a book….

I like to look on the computer and find the books I want.  I check them out and then they are “in my library”.  Later I go to my phone, open the app and the book is already in my library.  That way I’m not on a tiny screen searching for books.

From there you just tap the book on the screen and start listening.

If you simply want to try listening to an audiobook for the first time, listen on your computer first before you buy any new equipment.  Then you don’t have the investment of a device if you don’t have one already.

I jumped in and invested and soon as I knew about audiobooks and MP3 players.  I LOVED being read to as a child and to me, that’s what audiobooks are…someone is just reading to me.  I listen to audiobooks like most people listen to the radio.  I listen in the car, when I’m folding laundry…when I’m making supper…when I’m sewing.  I’d rather listen to a book than the radio…one advantage, no commercials!!

If you use a library as your audiobook source, I’m sure they have someone there that can help walk you through it all.  It sounds like a really long process if you aren’t used to technology but it’s not bad at all once you get a book downloaded.

I know if you have children, they can likely walk you through the process…they can also gift you some money for Christmas to get set up to listen…or enhance your listening with headphones or a speaker.  My kids love to get ideas for something I’d like.

There are other free sources for listening to books but most of them are for classic books only.  To date, I haven’t tried them.

Readers, it’s your turn.  If you have any other information to pass along about listening to audiobooks, please leave a comment in the comment section.  Also if you know of any other free online sources to get books, please list them.

Figuring out how to listen to audiobooks was one of the best things I’ve done.  I do have to admit that I have started listening to a few podcasts.  I don’t like them as well…but I keep thinking I haven’t found “the one” yet.  If you’re interested in learning how to listen to podcasts, check out Kalissa’s blog on that HERE.  She was able to write that as she had to help me learn…I guess we’re all learning something…

If you have any others questions..please ask.

18 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Audiobooks

  1. Joy

    There’s also the old fashioned way of listening to audiobooks on CD. Our libraries still offer books on CD and they are easily found at thrift stores. You may not get the newest releases but it’s a great way to check out some new authors. In the past I have ripped the CDs to MP3 so I could listen on my iPod while I worked outside. I also did an Audible free trial recently and was able to download two books during the trial period.

  2. Carol K

    In addition to Hoopla, my Library also has Overdrive. Overdrive has both ebooks and Audiobooks. There aren’t as many Audiobooks as ebooks, but I do find some Audiobooks on Overdrive. My Library posts the new books on Overdrive on Tuesday, so I usually check out Overdrive on Tuesday afternoon and look at both the new ebooks and new Audiobooks. There is a selection under Collections for New ebook additions and for New Audiobook additions, so you can quickly see what has been added. I can often snag a new title right away, or at least am one of the first few people on the Waitlist and don’t have to wait too long. I use the computer to find the books on Overdrive, but download them to my iphone to listen to them. Audible is wonderful, but can be pricey if you listen to a lot of books. I limit my purchases on Audible to books I want to own — those by my favorite authors that I will probably listen to more than once.

  3. Kathy Teske

    My husband gave me some Bose noise-cancelling headphones for our anniversary a couple of years ago. Mowing our lawn takes me two hours, so I listen to audio books while I’m mowing. It makes the time go much faster.

  4. Lorraine

    I use Overdrive to download to my Kindle. I’ve read hundreds of books free. Very easy to use.
    Our library here doesn’t offer Hoopla. I’ll have to remember to get a card at the library an hour away.

  5. ChristieB

    Have you listened to Frances Dowell’s The QuiltFiction Podcast: Friendship Album 1933. I loved it ! It got me hooked on audio books. Our local library has a lot of audio books and carries alot of the new releases. I have an external speaker for my computer, so I can pretty much listen to my books whatever room I’m in.

  6. Judith Fairchild

    I am not patient with audio books. But for those that enjoy it go for it. As usual Jo you have made the explanation plain thank you. If I ever have to go to audio books I will know how to do it. thank you for explaining it.

  7. Rosalie

    Jo, if you haven’t listened to Friendship ALbum 1933 from Quiltfiction.com please try it. There is also a recording of an old book- Aunt Jane of Kentucky that is excellent. Both are free podcasts.

  8. Christine M

    I use the Libby by Overdrive app on my phone and listen with a wireless headset. Without a headset the volume would have to be turned up to loud for me to hear it over the sound of the sewing machine. Plus my iron and cutting table are in a different room from my sewing machines so a speaker wouldn’t work. I currently have five different libraries on my app because for some libraries you only need to be a resident in the state that the library is in, not just the city or county. So check other libraries in your state, especially in the larger cities and counties.

  9. Lisa B

    I use OverDrive through my local library to check out both audio and visual books. The library had step-by-step instructions on a printed page. My brain wanders when I’m listening to an audiobook and I can only manage to listen to certain genres but I rarely find one that I’m interested in. Sometimes I can get books from Hoopla but I have to stay up past midnight to get the books I want because they only allow so many checked out per day. I love having a book on Kindle on my smartphone so when I have a few minutes waiting at a doctor’s office or what not I can read a page or two.

  10. Lynne Nicholson UK

    Unfortunately since losing most of my sight four years ago audiobooks are my main reading experience… but bonus is I stick my headphones on and do the housework, or sew, or sit in the garden, or ride my exercise bike… personally I don’t tend to listen to books when on a journey or in my doctor’s waiting room as obviously I need to concentrate at those times.

    Librivox has many free audiobooks, disadvantage is they are read by volunteers so the quality of recording and narration varies, and the books read are those no longer under copyright, advantage they are free and there are many interesting books if you are into the “classics”

    I’m currently listening to short stories on a YouTube channel called Bitesized Audio… the narrator is very good, the stories are between 30 minutes and an hour long, they are a mixture of mysteries, ghost stories, and early thrillers from the 19th and early 20th centuries (so out of copyright) and include Dickens, Conan Doyle, and some authors I’d never heard of before… so far I’m really enjoying the stories and the narrator is one of the very best I’ve ever listened to (I listen to books for at least 5 hours a day as I no longer enjoy tv so much)

  11. Brenda in SC

    I bought a few audio books and have a hard time listening to them as my mind wanders way too much to be able to stay on track with them. I really wish I could enjoy them. I bought The Shack and really wanted to enjoy it. I ended up buying the DVD as it sounded so good by the back of the case of the CD. It is an excellent movie. I think it was you, Jo, that recommended the book (audio) to us. You have to really pay attention to it or you will get lost for sure; but it is really good!
    Love movies like this. Wish I could do the audio books, but will have to stick to music for now as my mind just can not slow down enough to concentrate on the book.

  12. Joy Van den top

    I love to listen to audio books. I keep a list of the books you have ‘read’ and often refer to it when I’m searching for a new book! You read what I like….heehee! I do like head phones because if a call comes in it is automatically answered. Plus, I can still hear my hubby when he comes in. How do you find. Library that supports Hoopla? Thanks!

  13. Jo Post author

    Joy-If you go to Hoopla digital on the internet, it gives you a place to search for the closest Hoopla supported library.

  14. Barbara

    First I need to say I LOVE your blog – have been following for quite sometime and admire your family and your strong bonds.

    I am a huge audiobook listener. I use our local library and yes they are happy to help with the downloads.. At 74 the cost of audiobooks can be expensive – rather spend my money on fabric – ha.

    My favorite speaker is a PETS bluetooth from Amazon – very reasonable. I hang it on my sewing machine and can sew and listen without a problem. I feel more invested in a book by listening to the reader and those books with several different readers are the best. Podcasts are wonderful also. Keep turning those pages, Barbara

  15. Sherry Whalen

    I love listening to audio books! There is no way I could read as many books as I have listened to over the past 2 years. I have listened to series – like the Harry Potter series, which I wouldn’t have taken the time to read in print, I have listened to the Hunger Games series plus the new book, which I did read and watch movies, but never would have taken the time to re-read. I almost never re-read a book but it is a great way to relive a favorite! Yes, sometimes my mind wanders but then I just back up a few minutes and relisten and yes sometimes backing up doesn’t help – I know then that it isn’t my day to listen lol. Or perhaps the book isn’t holding my attention and then I am glad that I haven’t invested the time to try to sit and read in print. Where I live we can get audio books via Overdrive from 2 libraries and yes sometimes there is a waiting list but I can always find a book on my wish list to fill the time until it gets to me on the wait list. The best part – my husband of 45 years, who I have never seen sit and actually read a book for pleasure (sure, he reads work stuff and required reading) has really been enjoying listening to books! If you have a computer or smart phone and a library card, you have nothing to lose by trying it! More and more libraries have audio access so go to your library’s website and there will likely be information there as to what app they use and directions on how to use it. It may take a little practice to remember to listen while you are working on something else but start listening while doing something mundane…that you can do automatically, like washing the dishes or weeding the garden and then maybe even listen to a favorite book that you have read in print. I do find that I need to be actively doing something, if I sit and listen I will fall asleep, just like when I am reading print lol!

  16. Maxine Corimski

    Another service that I use on my iPad is LIBBY. As with HOOPLA, you need a current library card number. With HOOLA, you have a choice of downloading the book to your device. This comes in handy when you are in a location that dies not support an internet function.

  17. Janet R

    Thank you for taking the time to write a blog post about audiobooks. I haven’t gotten into them yet and I probably could have figured it out, but this makes it so much easier. Thank you to the readers who responded with their own methods, as well. I love that there is always something new to learn.

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