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Guest Post: Audible vs. The US Library System — Tabitha Talks Audiobooks

Are you a Reader or a Listener?
If you’re both – How do you get your audio books?

I’m of the opinion that I must use every dabnabit available minute of the day reading! – hence if my eyes are occupied I use the good ol ears. Who needs to type of those work reports anyway…

Recently a friend had recommended Audible to me – I’d previously never used it. Why? Because I just didn’t want to pay that monthly fee. Unfortunately, that means I was always stuck with whatever audio books are available from the library. The library in my area is sorely lacking in its audio catalog for Fantasy and SF titles – but they’re heavy on YA books. Doesn’t that always seem to be the case? Seriously though Librarians, I need more adult in my life right now!

I then found out libraries in different states will allow you to BUY a membership to their library if you live out of state. The Brooklyn library, some libraries in Virgina, there is a whole slew of libraries that will allow you to do this. The price you get charged on a yearly basis (if you choose to renew) varies greatly. For instance Brooklyn is $30 a year.

How much is Audible vs a purchased Library membership? $15 a month for 1 credit which equals ONE book where as a library membership is $30 for a year – Eegads right? No competition there I say. Most audio books actually cost about $12.99 on Audible without a membership so if you use that credit you’re losing money each month – Be Ware, beware! I still think Audible is somewhat of a jip because hey I read most of my books and I eat through way too many books a month for this to be cost effective for me. They do have deals on credits though and if you only listen to the occasional audio instead of being a strictly audio reader then it’s not so bad.

I’ve been giving it a try the past three months and have decided it’s alright but you have to really work to find a title that

A) is more than $15, preferably more than $24 to make me feel like I’m the one getting ahead,

B) Isn’t already carried by your local library’s audio overdrive and

C) Is the length of it worth the credit (some audios are 7 hours where others are 17 hours. I just feel like I’m getting more bang for my buck if it’s longer. But anyways…moving on.

So using your library to get audio books is a much better way to go about things. IF your library has a ratshit pile worth of audio offerings (sorry for being mean right there…it’s likely not that libraries fault…funding is crap in so many areas – so no worries libraries I have much love for you) – anyways if the selection sucks – you can purchase a membership to another library rather than Audible. This way you’re supporting the library system AND you’re getting a better bang for your buck. At some libraries $30 a year membership gets you unlimited audio books from the library selection and no monthly cap on downloads. How awesome is that? – I can tell you one thing – I’m tapping into this honeypot.

Alright alright, I see your point so ultimately I’m still PAYING for my audio books. But I often still borrow from my local library, I just don’t want to be constrained to that limited selection. And yes, I’m still subscribed as an Audible member – at least I can return them if I don’t click with the narrator and I like the ability to crank up the narration speed.

Wondering how you can to? Check out this handy dandy list of libraries around the US.

Lending libraries by state

About the Blogger

I’m Tabitha, some of you might know me as Pabkins – and I recently opened my own blog called Not Yet Read. I’ve been lurking around the blogosphere for several years but have finally created my own stomping grounds. I read Adult and YA in any of the Fantasy, Paranormal and Science Fiction subgenres. Carmel was lovely enough to let me rant here today about audiobooks. If you liked my rant, well then come snoop me out at my site! (I even have a fabulous self sponsored Kindle E-Reader giveaway going on currently!) ​ | Twitter | GoodReads | Facebook

Not Yet Read

Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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  1. I actually do both. I have a pretty good library system here (I know I brag on it all the time) and the audio collection is pretty good. However, there are books that I will reread and relisten to so I buy those. I also use the whispersync function and save money on audiobooks there. However, it is also because all of my family is on my Kindle/Audible account.

    I do have a rule though: I will only use a credit on audiobooks that are $17 or above. You aren’t really saving money if it is around or below that credit total.

    • I completely agree! I try to use my credit if the audio book is at least $24 or above. Which I lucked out the past two times because both the Jim Butcher books I wanted were $24. Schawing! I wish my library had as great of a selection as yours.

  2. The audio book section at my local library/s is terrible so I was paying the monthly audible membership up until recently when I canceled it, not only because of the cost point you mentioned but also because of territory rights (I’m in Australia) and not a lot of book titles that I enjoy were available + I’m not 100% focused when I’m listening rather than reading so I don’t enjoy an audio book as much and didn’t feel it was worth the cost.

    A great post!

    • Completely know what you mean about the focus. I have to be driving or say, cooking to be able to enjoy an audio book. I know some people who listen while they work and I just can’t do that – I have to stop it constantly because I WANT to listen. Oh wait I can listen while I paint too. But I do that way less often.

      Reading is usually the way to go for me too. Sucks you can’t listen to so much of the selection! That would tick me off. I hate knowing a book is RIGHT THERE and I COULD read it but I just live in a different country. I once ordered Sara Douglass books from I think New Zealand because they weren’t out in the US yet.

  3. So not into audiobooks that it wouldn’t even be a contest between the two, lol. On principle, library over everything, anytime. I’d rather not “read” the book than listen to the audiobook, that’s how annoying I find them, lol.

    • I know what you mean though – they can be very annoying. I have to immediately click with the narrator or I return the audiobook to the library or to audible. Thankfully they have a great return policy.

      • Always a pro, I agree. Doesn’t it seem like it takes soooo much longer to listen to the audiobook than to read the book yourself? Always seems that way to me, one of the reasons I can’t do them… I don’t suffer from a lot of patience when it comes to things I really like, lol 😀

  4. I like to do both. I would rather read, because I am a fast reader, so a book takes less time if I am reading and not listening to it. But I also like to listen sometimes, because I can put in headphones while I am cleaning and stuff like that. Tennessee has an online library that gives access to MP3 and WMA formats of books, which comes in handy. 🙂

    • I agree I’m a faster reader then I am a listener. That’s why I always speed up the audio to at least 2x speed! The narrator’s read so slowly anyway.

  5. Great post, Tabitha! I don’t do many audio books myself (too ADD), but if that ever changes, I’ll be sure to go the library route 😉

    • I’ve been hooked on audio ever since my Army days when I used to have to travel so much and listening while you’re driving is so awesome. It makes the miles roll by super fast.

  6. So far I only do the library route, but I am pretty new to the audio thing and have hardly made a scratch in their selection. I do wish Overdrive could do 1.25 speed though, some of these narrators are so..damn..slow.

    • My Overdrive app allows me to change speeds. Are you using it on an iPhone?

      • Android. If there is a speed up button I have not found it. I will look harder though.

    • I think some of the Overdrive apps allow you to speed it up. I think the android phone allows you to speed it up but i haven’t used it yet.

  7. I had no idea you could buy a membership to an out of state library, that is awesome! This post was so informative! I have tried very few audible books, simply because I find I can’t stay focused if someone else is reading to me, I get distracted from real stuff way too much if my hands are free.

    • yes! And the best thing about it – is you get access to their entire digital library. For instance I’m a member of an out of state library and that way I can use their kindle library books up to 25 at a time checkout. Its great because my local library digital selection is really poor.

  8. I’m audible junkie..LOL I would get more from the library but my town’s selection is very poor. I like to get the book on my phone right away so I don’t ever buy CDs or mp Cds.
    I got a Philadelphia library card (out of state) but their selection is not good enough for me 🙁 I’m a junkie for new releases. So no luck when it comes to a library. I do think that as the popularity of audiobooks gets bigger they will carry more audio.
    Great post!! 🙂

    • I hear the Brooklyn library is great and they offer out of state. I know what you mean some libraries just don’t get the new releases but the bigger city ones tend to I think. I know Seattle does!

  9. Both! These days I listen more than read. I’ve been with Audible since 2010. I buy the 12 credits at once. It’s a lot but per audio it’s cheaper than the monthly membership. It makes the credits about the price of a paperback. I try to make those 12 credits last between 9-12 months and supplement them with sales and my public library. I will check to see if my library has the audio before using a credit.

    I’m lucky in that my library has tons of audios.

    Also I’ve made some contacts with audio publishers and that really saves me money on new releases.

    • Forgot to say that I have two library cards. One for my city library and one for main state library. State library is where I get 90% of my audios. You can get gateway cards if you work in the same county as another library. It’s FREE.

  10. I love audible! I get most of my audiobooks from publishers so I’m careful on what I select to use with my credits. I’m also the kind of ‘I want it now’ girl. The library in my town is about the size of my garage, they don’t even have a YA section so I’m not finding anything good there.
    How do you listen to books from the library? Is it a mp3 download or CD. I have to have it in my phone so I can’t do CD’s (since I also listen to them in the car a lot). I also love having the ability to speed up narration. I can’t listen to anything slower than 1.5x…
    Great post!

    • The audiobooks from the library are typically either MP3 or WMA and you can download to overdrive via your phone or your ipod are the two ways I do it. I have an android phone and you can totally still speed up the narration. I think that depends on the app you use and the type of phone you have. Felicia the Geeky Blogger did an awesome post on speeding up narration of audiobooks via the various devices and apps.

      • Sadly a lot of the audios I want to listen are not Apple friend for download from the app so luckily our desktop is a Dell so I have to download on there and then drag it to my iPhone. But it’s worth it since they are free.

  11. Oh, now that’s a good way to do things! While I don’t listen to audiobooks, I would like to try them and, if I get into them, I’d rather not buy-buy-buy. Borrowing from the library is the way to go!

    • Borrowing is definitely the way to go and they make it so easy for you to download them to your ipod, or phone even!

  12. I can’t believe you didn’t include whispersync in your post! Have I not taught you anything!? 😛

    Your local library and Overdrive is an amazing place to get started on audio books, and usually they have a great selection! In addition to my own library, I have an out of state library card to both Brooklyn and Fairfax because those are two that allow non-residents to get one over their internet…I love it! And their fees are relatively reasonable, as opposed to one library I know that charges $200 a year!

    Actually, a lot of libraries in the US do issue non-resident cards…but the catch is you have to show up in person to apply. So, if you do a lot of traveling…

    • That’s hilarious – you’re right I completely forgot about whispersync!

      I should do that the next time I go on a trip to San Francisco I am SOOO getting a library card there. And if I hit any other major city that is likely to have a better digital library.

  13. I’ve been thinking about doing the library thing, but I live outside city limits so I would have to pay a lot more and my library is kind of out of my way. maybe I’ll do it one day when I have more disposable income.

    • Well signing up at the library allows you to digitally download the books – so you never even have to go pick them up. Instant gratification.

  14. I’m in Canada, so most of Audible’s audiobooks cost more than the price credit so it’s a good deal for me, even with the exchange rate. I live quite a ways away from any major city, and the cost of an annual Library membership is quite expensive which is why I don’t go that route. Instead, I shop the sales & snatch up every coupon I find. It can be an expensive hobby if you’re not a savvy shopper. Thanks for guest posting today Tabitha!

    • Thanks for having me Carmel. You have to pay in CA for an annual library membership? Just even to the one closest to you? eegads

      • The one closest to me is tiny with dinosaur audiobooks (but it’s free); they are probably on cassette tapes. LOL

  15. When it comes to audiobooks my library has a very small selection in the genres I read (which is kinda crazy because I don’t live in a small town) so I rarely get my audiobooks from the library. I usually end up buying most of my audios through Tantor, Audible or which is probably why I don’t listen to a ton of them. I think I’d listen to more if I could borrow them through my library!

    • Yeah I only am trying out audible still because frankly I don’t listen to as many as I read so the cost isn’t worth it really. I’ll likely end up canceling soon because it takes me forever to find a title I want to listen to instead of reading.

      • I usually stick to my friends recommendations because we tend to read the same genres, oh and I love listening to samples because a narrator can make or break a story! 🙂

      • I’m actually starting to keep track of the narrators that I really like and then marking their books to listen instead of read. Because then I know I already love their narration style.

  16. Great article. I’ve thought about Audible but it takes me a long time to get through an audio book so it isn’t worth it for me. Were you aware that Sync’s summer program begins this week? Every week they have 2 free audio books for download – a “classic” and a young adult book. Each book is available for 7 days, after that it’s gone. I would suggest downloading all the books – I’ve discovered some real gems in the bunch. is where you can get more details. (If you are outside the US, there may be regional restrictions).

    • Yes! i heard about this last year – it’s a pretty awesome program – thanks for reminding me about it.

  17. Brilliant post!! Since I live outside the US, I paid a once off $10 to keep my membership and still have access to some specials. I definitely could not afford $15 per month with our exchange rate. Our libraries are ok with the audio catalogue but they don’t always have the entire series. I rely on whispersync and competitions for now 🙂 *now lets go look for one to enter* tee hee!

    Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

    • Yeah $15 a month really does get a big outrageous after awhile. especially when there aren’t a ton of books you want to listen to.

  18. I totally agree with this post. I have been doing more audiobooks lately to catch up on older titles, but I am not about to pay the big fees for audible. I have been using my library and such for the books I listen to. I will be researching the library info and getting more. Thanks!

  19. Great discussion, I’m still a newbie audiobook listener but I would go with library membership than audible. Being a voracious reader can get expensive if one isn’t careful so I’ll go the cheap route.

  20. I am a reader, sure I like audio, but I have found that YA is the only thing that works for me. It’s shorter and easier to listen to. My mind has a tendency to drift or I fall asleep 😉

  21. Interesting post. I haven’t actually listened to a book before, but I will keep it in mind to check out libraries etc when I decide to take the plunge!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  22. I listen to audiobook when I work – when I do designs , mostly – and I use my library a lot to borrow books. Though where I’m from the selection is pretty limited – still wider than I expected but they don’t always have something I’m in the mood for so I also have an audible membership. I usually only get one audiobook a month so for me it’s worth it. All the audiobooks I bought were well over 20$ without a membership. One thing that’s fun with me is I claim my Audible fees as business fees and I get a tax break. Whoot! >.<

  23. Oh! I hate how heavily YA my library audiobooks are, but I do use the library whenever I can. I also have an audible account and got the yearly membership so its a bit cheaper per book. I watch the price of the audiobooks, if its more than I payed for my year of credits, I buy it instead and save my credit for a more expensive audiobook. There are plenty that are more than $12.99, so it works out for me.

  24. I love using my local library for audiobooks… I live in a small town so the options are quite small, but the library in the next city over has TONS and I pay for a membership there (I used to live there and it was free, but it’s well worth the $ to have access to their physical books and online ebook and audio database).

    This is a great post. I tried to sign up for Audible, got really frustrated and my free book that I WON would not download properly – when I tried to get it a second time it wanted me to pay for it, so I’ve never even attempted to use Audible EVER again. Their loss!

  25. I use my library for audiobooks. If there’s a great deal on audiobooks, however, I tend to buy them. But my library carries most of the books I want on audio! The only thing that annoys me is when I have a limited time to read it, but other than that, I prefer to borrow from the library. Audible has always sounded like I was wasting my money on it :/

  26. I haven’t but according to some other blogger friends in the area my library sucks. I like Audible and the convenience of it being on my phone but this is definitely something to think about. Great post.

  27. My library is pretty good with CDs, but not so much with the digital downloads. There are still a ton of books that they don’t have, so I have an Audible membership. I plan on purchasing an Annual membership, where it is less than $10/book, when I get my next bonus check. I’ll have to look at other libraries though. I never knew you could do purchase a membership for out-of-state libraries. Thanks for the heads up.

  28. My local library does not have a good audiobook selection, but I do have the option of paying for an out-of-town library card with my old library, which has a great online audiobook selection. I haven’t done it yet, or subscribed to Audible, although I like both options. I like the immediacy of Audible as I don’t need to hook my phone up to my PC to load the audiobook (ultra-lazy excuse there), but I listen to audiobooks in waves, so I’m not sure I’d make it worth it.