I have never been much of a fan of audio books. For many years I worked from home and found that it was far easier to read than to listen. However, since I became a pastor I have spent endless hours commuting and have looked for ways to redeem that time. I use it to listen to the Bible and to pray, but even that does not consume all the time I spend parked on Toronto-area highways. I have been rather surprised to find how much I enjoy listening to audio books. Let me give you a couple of great options in case you’ve been considering getting into audio books as well (digital, downloadable audio books, that is).
I recently subscribed to Audible. I am always suspicious of special offers so almost never sign up for them. However, this one time I actually clicked a banner (like the one here), signed up, and accepted the free offer. I knew I could download a book and still cancel my membership in the first 14 days without being charged anything. The fact that Audible is owned by Amazon gave me the confidence that the offer was legit. I downloaded the book In the Plex by Steven Levy. I was fully prepared to cancel my membership, but found myself enjoying the book enough that I left the membership in place; it’s definitely worth paying for. They’ve got 100,000 titles available spanning every category (and including most of the latest and greatest bestsellers). Their iPhone app is really useful and intuitive; I assume the apps for Android and Blackberry are equally useful.
Audible’s pricing structure is a little bit obscure, but typical for audiobook stores. If you sign up for the gold plan you pay $14.95 per month and receive 1 credit per month. Almost every book in their catalog costs a credit, which means you essentially receive one audio book per month. The exceptions tend to be the very long books which may cost 2 credits. You can also pay for the books on a one-off basis if you run out of credits; you will receive the books at a discounted rate from the list price. Their platinum plan gets you 2 credits per month for $22.95.
ChristianAudio is pretty much the Christian equivalent to Audible. Their catalog is, by design, more narrow in scope, but they have still put together a great collection of books. They offer a similar structure to Audible: You can purchase books as one-offs or you can purchase a subscription. Their plans cost $14.95 and $24.95 for 4-credit and 8-credit plans; most of their new and full-length books tend to cost 4 credits, so it is roughly equivalent to Audible.
Be sure to keep an eye on ChristianAudio’s monthly free book; that is a way to begin building a collection and to get a feel for their service.
Speaking personally, I now subscribe to Audible but keep a close eye on ChristianAudio and download books there as it makes sense to do so. They have twice-yearly sales in which the books are reduced to $7.49 or 2 credits each and that is always a great time to stock up.