Libraries + Free Audiobook Downloads? Tell me where.
February 16, 2006 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Libraries + Free Audiobook Downloads? Tell me where.

Does your library let you download free audiobooks from the web? How does it work? How do you like it? (example ).
posted by BigBrownBear to Education (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Some others that I've seen:
South Jersey
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:29 AM on February 16, 2006

My library system (Monroe County, New York) allows you to download audiobooks.

The files are in some sort of protected .wma format that expires after two weeks. You can renew them, though.

Unfortunately, they don't support Macs (and, from what I have seen in their FAQ, have no future plans to support them). So, it's useless to me and it annoys me to no end.
posted by Lucinda at 7:40 AM on February 16, 2006

yes, I have tried this. For my local library you have to register at the audiobook website that they use. You can download the book to the computer and listen to it for a limited time--1 or 2 weeks I think. There must be some type of encrypted code because you can't listen to it after the given time period.
I guess you could renew it like a regular book.

I tried to listen to the book at work--but I couldn't keep track of the story and work on my reports at the same time--don't know what I was thinking.
posted by sandra194 at 7:45 AM on February 16, 2006

My library offers them, but it doesn't work with my computer (Mac) or my MP3 player (iPod) so I don't much care for it. Hooray DRM!
posted by revgeorge at 7:48 AM on February 16, 2006

Response by poster: i dont live in the us so i've never been able to try this...can you copy it or put it on your iPod? What about recording the playing sound with something like silent bob?
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:48 AM on February 16, 2006

My library offers them via NetLibrary. I've not tried it, however. No ipods.
posted by fochsenhirt at 8:05 AM on February 16, 2006

Boston Public Library has audio books for members that you download to your machine. They use Overdrive as the digital rights management (DRM) program which plays the audiobooks as protected WMA (windows media) files.

They're checked out for a two week period, then you need to renew or they expire.

Currently these are NOT iPod compatible -- because of DRM issues. However, supposedly they would be compatible with non iPod mp3 players.
posted by jerryg99 at 8:08 AM on February 16, 2006

Our library has them but it seems like there is a high demand for some reason, they are always checked out in advance. Apparently libraries only get a set amount of licenses for a title and you have to wait until the license is free. That time period is 14 days. I am not much of an audiobooks person to begin with so I may try it for the hell of it at some point.

I don't know what the point is of trying to go through the hassle of copying them. Fourteen days should be more than enough to listen to the whole thing, but then you could always recheck it out again in the future if you don't finish.
posted by JJ86 at 8:13 AM on February 16, 2006

I'm not sure if you only wanted free audiobooks from actual libraries, but in case you don't, there are several classics in audiobook form at Project Gutenberg. Just scroll down to categories and there are both human-read and computer-generated ones for the taking.

(And unless I'm just not seeing it, I don't think the DC Public Libraries have audiobooks.)
posted by educatedslacker at 8:14 AM on February 16, 2006

The New York Public Libraries have them, unfortunately in Overdrive protected WMA format.

For those who are determined to get this kind of audiobook to play on the iPod, TuneBite can convert the protected WMA files to unprotected MP3.
posted by dudeman at 8:22 AM on February 16, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the tips. I'm assuming you have to live in these places to download the books, right?
posted by BigBrownBear at 8:27 AM on February 16, 2006

yah, I can get netLibarary from my local library as well. It is listed as part of thier electronic db.
Alot of the books on netLibrary seem to be textbooks and stuff like that. I have not really browsed it for reading pleaseure books.
posted by TheLibrarian at 8:28 AM on February 16, 2006

BigBrownBear: Yes, for the Boston Public Library you need to prove residency.

If you're looking for free audiobooks, I'd second Project Gutenberg, and also LibriVox, and Audiobooksforfree. I don't know about the quality of the audio books, but they are in the public domain.

Interestingly, you can get a non-resident card from The New York Public Library but that will set you back $100 annually.

People who have certified disabilities such as impaired vision can get access to free audio books from the Library of Congress.

And, as a last resort, check out --- every once in a while they used to run a special where you can sign up for one free month, get one or two free audiobooks, then just remember to cancel before they charge you in 30 days.
posted by jerryg99 at 9:52 AM on February 16, 2006

Many libraries are now offering this service. NetLibrary (now owned by OCLC) and OverDrive are two of the vendors providing this service for public libraries -- it is actually just a part of both companies' wider ebook offerings.

Individual libraries subscribe to the vendor's service then purchase the rights to the content on a per title basis, meaning that different libraries will have different offerings even if they use the same underlying service.

Although audiobooks are available for purchase for the iPod from Audible, all the public library services I'm aware of use Microsoft's proprietary windows media DRM, so nothing will be iPod (or usually even Mac) friendly, without jumping through hoops to try and convert to a compatible format -- possible, but a pain.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 11:03 AM on February 16, 2006

for the Boston Public Library you need to prove residency.

Residency in the state of Massachusetts, not Boston, in case that matters.

Most of these libraries have some way to get non-resident cards and access to content. There is also ListenIllinois and ListenOhio though they are carbon copies of each other. Here are some interesting FAQs for librarians from OCLC the company that owns NetLibrary. You can also scan the

Personally I find the DRM issue so maddening, as a Mac/iPod user, that I'm sort of waiting until they've solved the problem to experiment much. Librarians have been putting pressure on Audible to make some sort of package that will allow them to provide these services to all of their patrons equally. There have been some patron activists too and, of course there's the joke that in some libraries that offer books for donwload, you can access them from any computer BUT the library computers because of whatever software the libraries use to keep people from trashing the public access machines. Sorry for the slight derail, this is a bit of a hot topic in the library world right now.
posted by jessamyn at 11:29 AM on February 16, 2006

Denver Public Library: one can download audiobooks, and burn them for personal use. Great for classics to listen to repeatedly over time, or for long car trips.
posted by madstop1 at 3:14 PM on February 16, 2006

Washington Post article on the subject from last April.
posted by gimonca at 5:51 PM on February 16, 2006

I use the LAPL site you use in your example - I just download the books, capture them, export them as MP3s and copy them to my non-iPod MP3 player (Samsung). Great!
posted by forallmankind at 8:25 PM on February 16, 2006

Response by poster: cool. thanks guys for all the links.
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:08 AM on February 17, 2006

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