Audio books offer are a great addition to our multi-tasking society. They are most often used while commuting, traveling, exercising, gardening or while doing another repetitive task (hopefully not involving sharp machinery). And some people just like to relax to them.
The number of readers who have become audio book listeners has been steadily increasing and a great number of those listeners are downloading their books off the internet via free avenues like Gutenburg or with memberships like those offered by Simply Audiobooks.
Simply Audiobooks is a Canadian owned company with offices in Toronto, Canada; Buffalo, NY; Las Vegas, NV; and Manchester, United Kingdom. This past year they opened their first walk-in store on Bay Street in Toronto and have plans for further outlets.
They offer two methods to get audio books to your listening ears. You can rent or you can download at different pay scales to represent your reading speed. It’s very similar in concept to Net Flix or Zip movie rentals.
The Rental Club has four different membership levels starting at $17.95 per month (or less if you choose a yearly membership). The fee covers an unlimited supply of audio books but you are only allowed to have so many out at one time depending on the plan you sign up for. When you’re done you pop the audio book in the mailbox (in the envelope provided) and when they receive it they’ll send you another one from a predetermined list you set up. The cost includes the shipping fees in both directions.
The second method is The Download Club. It has three membership levels starting at $14.94 per month (less if you choose the yearly membership). Depending on the level you choose you are given a number of download credits for the month. That allow you to instantly download the books you want without having to wait for them to arrive in the mail. You also don’t have to worry about getting to a mailbox. With this method you are able to listen on your computer, burn it to a CD or transfer it to a non-iPod digital player. Memberships can be canceled at any time with no penalties and refunds are issued on unused portions.
As I mentioned earlier, you create a list of books you want to read and set their priority. They call it the “Rental Shelf”. Every time you send one back they’ll pull a new one from your list. There are over 20,000 audio books titles for rent and 6,500 to download. Their top three selling genres are Fiction, Business, and Self-Help. Some of the best selling Audio books include Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling), My Life (Bill Clinton), 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey), The Da Vinci Code/Angels and Demons (Dan Brown).
If you have never done any kind of internet downloading the website has a Download Help Center to take you through the process of downloading. The one glitch so far as I’ve noticed is that Apple Computers and iPods are not eligible because of licensing agreements. I think Apple works exclusive with Audible.
Currently all of their downloads are Digital Rights Managed (DRM) Windows Media file with a bit rate of 32 kbps but they have plans to go DRM-free in the near future. Please check your machine for compatibility with their download system before you sign up. There is a listing on their website of compatible audio players.
Simply Audiobooks has their selections divided into the following genres: biography, business, children’s, comedy, drama, erotica, fiction, health/fitness, health/mind/body, history, horror, language, lectures, literature, mystery/thriller, politics, religion/spirituality, romance, science/technology, science fiction/fantasy, sports, travel, and western. Many of these have further organizational categories to help find what you’re looking for. There’s also a reliable search feature if you don’t feel like browsing.
I found a wide selection of popular modern and classic audiobooks worth checking out: The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel (Diane Setterfield), Upstate (Kalisha Buckhanon), An Unpardonable Crime (Andrew Taylor), Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), The Screwtape Letters (C. S. Lewis), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith), East of Eden (John Steinbeck), A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens), Around the World in 80 Days (Jules Verne), To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams). There’s even a section for Oprah’s Picks.
One of my favourite things is of course the free downloads. Every month they offer a free download. Last month it was Sherlock Holmes and the Priory School. It was very easy to download. All I had to do was enter my email address and a first name and it downloaded in a few seconds with no problem. I saved it to a file on my computer that I created for Simply Audiobooks downloads. The file was just over 22,000 KB. I’m looking forward to this month.
Originally appeared on 4/30/2008 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.