I like stories. Movies, Books, whatever the format. One of the problems is that I cant always read or watch. Like when driving. Some people seem to think that would be stoopid. So I’m down to audiobooks. And im not averse to it, I had stories on records and cds as a child, I love that crap 🙂 And since I go trough them at a rate and since ill be spending some time stuck in a tiny spot on a bus, I went hutning.
There are obviously several options to get them.
- Buy the CDs
- Get them at a library
- Buy the audio online
- Download the free ones
- Download them (yes, Piracy)
These are the options I know of so far and if I missed any, please do point that out to me 🙂 Next important detail is HOW I want to listen to these. There are 3 platforms I use to listen to auidobooks. I could name nore, but Id be lying 🙂 I listen on my (Ubuntu) laptop, I listen to them in my car (on my Excelent Opel Insignia DVD800 car entertainment system) and on my Android phone. Lets be honest here, the easies common denominator in audio tech here is the MP3. Yes, I d love to go Ogg, but my car doesnt talk ogg. And thats a deal breaker. So, I need my crap in Mp3!
Oh yeah, I also dont have tons of money to throw around on this all!
Now, lets look to the options in that light.
Buy the CDs
There are stores that sell them. They have good choice, not great though last time I checked. Last time I checked is some odd years ago and I havent checked since for one simple reason. The prohibitive cost of the audiobooks. I remember prices of 40 euros and more (most of them were considerably more) and although I do respect the huge amount of money and whatnot that goes into those, that was just Too Expensive. Certainly for a book Ill only listen to once or twice!
Get them at a library
This is what I did today. I went to the library and perused their catalogue.. They had a nice selection and I easilly picked up 3 audio books. 2 in dutch, 1 in english (an Ian rankin one!!) So far so good. Now, as we discussed, Ill need an mp3 version to listen to them on my devices of choice. (Dont worry, Ill delete the mp3s before I turn them back in to the library) So lets start the ripping. Thats 3cds, 6cds and another 6cds. Thats a lot of ripping, but it should last me a while so why not. Ripping a cd is easy and fast anyway, no?
Well, no! Turns out these pretty library CDs all come in fancy slide in sleeves that Fuck up the disks. Theres a 2003 book in slide sleeves – Several tracks were in BAD shape. There was a 2007 book in fancy sleeves, Even worse shape! And finally there is the Rankin book from 2006 in a regular jewel case and .. im up to cd3 now and so far so good. Either people who understand english have more respect for library materials, or the fancy slide in sleeves are CRAP! Now, after the 2nd audiobook I was about to eat a disk out of pure frustration.. Luckilly, this last one appears to be in better shape. All n all, its a viable but painfull option.
Buy the audio online
The first name that comes to mind is Audible. And I had a long and hard look at the site recently because I really wanted to give them my money! I mean, digital audiobooks, ready to download to my computer.. sounds swell! Turns out they dont WANT my money! They do not support ANY of the devices I own. Not Linux, not my Android (though the d like to .. but that doesnt help me) and not my car! So audible is out!
Luckilly, I (re)discovered eMusic yesterday. They have a nice assortment on their emusic.com/audiobooks/ page, nothing like the abundancy of Audible, but at least they offer drm free, vanilla MP3s instead of some crappy and obscure format! They also offer a trial both for their music (25 free song credits) and audiobooks (1 free book credit) and I spent all of it yesterday, testing their service. They offer a downloader which facilitates the task of downloading the 20 or so mp3s that make up an audiobook and its a simple downloader that Just Works. You could also parse the file by hand since its regular xml, but why do that with such an easy to use downloader 🙂 And they do offer a Linux one by the way, so no mucking about with wine or whatever.
Im quite convinced by their service at this time. Ill probably give them a few months to fully persuade me. And in the mean time, ill be listening to the 1 cred a month at 12 euros scheme. Pitty the credits dont carry over though.. That means the only way to get a 2 cred audiobook is to buy the more expensive subscription. A pitty. Though maybe they ll change that .. We can hope 😉
Download the free ones
First I d like to start with a shout out to the good people at librivox.org! They re a bunch of people reading old books that are out of the copyright and they put them up for us to download for free 🙂 Its a wonderful community and I have enjoyed several great stories trough their efforts.
The downside however is that they have several narrators and that I dont like them all equally. Sometimes their vision of how a book should be read is utterly tangential to my feel of the book and thats a real deal breaker. That and the fact that they just Dont have that many books to choose from! I listened to Jeckyl and Hyde, Dracula, whatnot, but I quickly exhausted the list.
Another great source for free audio material is the archive.org! You ll have to do a bit of looking there to actually get to what you re looking for, but after a search, you ll find litle pearls of radio history, Old Time Radio, like X-Minus-One or Dragnet or Murder at Midnight. These will obviously not be for everyone, but there are some great stories in there and not to be underestimated, some great Golden Era SciFi stories! Worth the time to listen to. Though Id have to admit, some of it was of such a bad quality that I wasnt able to listen to it on my previous car radio..
Not to mention several other small sites or whatever that focus on free audio material. One example being this great dutch resource: http://hoorspel.wordpress.com/
Download them (yes, Piracy)
And finally the big push into illegality. Needless to say, the current copyright owners frown upon the downloading of their content and will gladly have their legal staff piss over you, your house, your pets, your family and the graves of your dead relatives. That being said, it IS somewhat of a solution, though there is apparently not that much of a choice. There are obviously not much people into the whole audiobook thing. And, lets be honest, its somewhat of a hastle. Then again, so is ripping the cds you legally bought at 50 euro in a store.
In the end..
Im giving eMusic a chance. Its not THAT expensive, certainly compared to other solutions and its fully hassle free. As a close second is the library though the process of ripping those onto my players is plain painfull. And an honorable mention to the free options, they kept me going for a LONG while before having to resort to these other options. Its just that Ive exhausted those. And you need a love for the old stuff or it wont help you either 😉