Audiobook rentals
August 18, 2008 1:01 PM   Subscribe

What Netflix-like service do you use to rent audiobooks on CD?

I've decided that, although I am (of course) interested in our electoral process, I am already tired of hearing about it during my hour long commute to and from work. So, I've decided to start listening to books on CD, but would like to rent, as opposed to own. (My local public library does not have a very inspiring collection of books on CD).

What Netflix-like service have you/do you use and/or recommend?
posted by schoenbc to Shopping (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not aware of a Netflix-like site for audiobooks (though I'll be following this thread with interest). However, you might consider, which has a very extensive selection. My current plan is, I think $22 a month, and gives me two audiobooks a month. So for $11 per book, I have access to almost all the major new releases and a pretty decent back catalog of my favorite authors.

I've been doing this for almost three years to help with my 45 minute commute, and think it may be the best $22 I spend each month.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:22 PM on August 18, 2008

see if your local library is hooked into a county or statewide internet reservation system.
posted by any major dude at 1:32 PM on August 18, 2008

There are many podcasts available for free.
Selected shorts is an npr program with actors reading short stories in front of a live audience.
The New Yorker also has short stories in podcast form.
posted by marlys27 at 2:07 PM on August 18, 2008

i have not used any of these services, but they came up on google for "rent audiobook"
posted by misanthropicsarah at 2:13 PM on August 18, 2008

Seconding that you should check out some podcasts. Even if you are limited to a cd player you could burn them to cd to get them portable.

Sci-Fi short stories are at EscapePod
Humor at Keith and The Girl
Scott Sigler, audiobooks in serial form
This American Life
posted by geekyguy at 2:16 PM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

why would you want audiobooks shipped when you can simply download them?

I used to download an audio book once (a nick hornby novel) but it was DRM-protected, which forced me to burn it onto multiple cd's prior to being able to listen to it in the car. they claim you can still play their files on an ipod and when I sent a nasty email "asking" for a refund they were exceptionally kind and actually refunded me the dough, which was a brilliant way to shame me into being nicer to people and has me currently considering going back to them.

they do offer a subscription service, which would be another netflix-like feature.
posted by krautland at 2:20 PM on August 18, 2008

I use the public library here in San Francisco, which has quite a few books on CD. But I agree with most of the people here --- is a much more convenient and accessible way to access talking books.
posted by jc1745 at 2:23 PM on August 18, 2008

I used to download an audio book once (a nick hornby novel) but it was DRM-protected, which forced me to burn it onto multiple cd's prior to being able to listen to it in the car. they claim you can still play their files on an ipod

You can play audible downloads on an ipod -- it's very easy to do. I do not recommend audible if you're limited to CDs -- burning all of those CDs yourself would not be worth it (a particularly long book could require more than 30 CDs)
posted by pardonyou? at 2:39 PM on August 18, 2008 does audiobooks as well as paperbacks. But I've never actually gotten around to using the service, so I can't comment on selection/reputation.
posted by hamhed at 2:42 PM on August 18, 2008

A disclaimer: I abhor audiobooks and listening to recorded yapping. However several members of my household are avid fans of the stuff, and their primary source for them is the public library. I had imagined that our recent move from the highly urban, media-centric metropolitan Bay Area to a small town in the exurban North Bay would cut off or reduce the flow of these things and require some kind of service -- I started looking into Simpy Audiobooks -- it turns out even small town public libraries (with otherwise fairly outdated collections) stock this stuff now and have access to plenty more.

Since your local branch has a poor selection, have you talked to a librarian about looking in the catalogs of other libraries in the system or an interlibrary loan? While the stuff on the shelf might not be doing much for you, the library may have access to considerably more resources than you see from browsing around.
posted by majick at 3:06 PM on August 18, 2008

posted by unixrat at 3:23 PM on August 18, 2008

Your library will have them to borrow.

I love for purchasing them... a couple hundred bucks gets me 2 books a month for a year... good deal if you ask me... I get to keep 'em, too.. they play on my iPod, which remembers where I left off.. I can burn 'em to CD if I want to... etc..
posted by twiggy at 3:29 PM on August 18, 2008

Also, check out Librivox Audiobooks. Free, volunteer read books in the public domain. I've been using them for about 8 months. Generally interesting books. The diversity of accents among the volunteers is both interesting and occasionally obstructive (I could barely understand one reader, though I'm used to non-native English speakers). So, YMMV.

For download or Podcast or RSS subscription, etc.
posted by Galen at 3:35 PM on August 18, 2008

Ask your library system if they participate in NetLibrary -- Raleigh's does, and it lets me download hundreds of audiobooks over the interwebs. There's DRM, which is not too annoying, but they come down in one big file, which is cumbersome -- The Moonstone is one 20-hour file! Also, they're incompatible with iTunes, which is a bit ridiculous these days. Still it's free and has a pretty big selection.
posted by futility closet at 4:08 PM on August 18, 2008

Emusic also has an audiobooks service. You can get either 1 book a month for 9.99 or 2 for 19.99. Plus the books are DMR-free.
posted by mcroft at 4:50 PM on August 18, 2008

I began getting collections from my local library, but very quickly gave up that source because availability of books was an issue and I was TIRED TO DEATH of getting halfway through a book and ending up with a bad disc.

I started downloading from Audible when you could get 2 a month for about $20. I gave them up when they finally fixed the glitch that had allowed me to convert their format to plain old mp3.

I found about two years ago and have been happy as a pig in the mud ever since. They offer a netflix-esque CD service for about $40 a month. Not sure if they have alternative plans. This deal gets me 4-books at a time so I tend to be a bit more adventurous with my choices. Their customer service is spectacular. Seriously. They called ME when my queue ran low once. Oh... yeah, and they don't do abridged versions. Which is awesome.

I thought about changing to simplyaudiobooks one time, but the abridged edition thing was an issue for me so I've just stuck with
posted by friezer at 5:58 PM on August 18, 2008

I've also been happy with I'm only an occasional renter. You don't have to sign up for a monthly plan--you can just pick out a book and rent it.
posted by PatoPata at 6:50 PM on August 18, 2008

We just started with - it is nice, but returns to the US from Canada are not free - so it is reasonably expensive. We have also had some bad tapes from them.

Generally we get our stuff from or the local public library (rarely had bad discs or tapes) - it does mean we are now an "iPod family", but oh well... When your audiobook collection is 180gb, lock-in is the least of your worries...
posted by jkaczor at 7:03 PM on August 18, 2008

The library here allow you to download them on line. (I found this out last week and I'm so stoked!)

Any chance you have access to a university library, perhaps as an alumni, that might allow those privileges?
posted by 26.2 at 7:35 PM on August 18, 2008

Cracker Barrel?
posted by Violet Hour at 12:14 AM on August 19, 2008

Jesus christ, man.
doesn't anyone even read the fucking question anymore?
I'm reading the answers and every third one is talking about the library, including the totally fucking useless

posted by unixrat at 6:23 PM on August 18 [+] [!]

I mean come on, dude, that wouldn't be a helpful answer even if the OP hadn't written
"(My local public library does not have a very inspiring collection of books on CD). "
and for the record, no, I am not talking to you, guy who recommended seeing about an interlibrary loan system; nor am I talking to you, people who mentioned online library-related resources.

In other news, my father uses as well, and seems to like it.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 2:48 AM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

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