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Audio Books: A Buyers Guide

If you are visually impaired and find it hard to read or if you just find reading books laborious, then why not consider audio books. In this guide we talk you through the options available to you and tell you where you can download audio books for free.

What is an audio book?

Audio book is the general term for a book that you can listen to and is usually narrated. You can download audio books that can be listened to on your mobile phone, tablet, computer or MP3 player. You can also buy them on cassette and CD. There are some great advantages to audio books, they include:

You can do other things – Audio books can allow you to maximise your time because while listening to one you can do other things like exercising, cooking, cleaning or driving.

Convenience – You can listen to an audio book anytime anywhere, whether you’re travelling on a crowded bus or train or simply have an hour to kill at home.

Stimulate your brain – listening to audio books can improve your vocabulary and comprehension. They are also good for listening skill as they help people understand better verbal messages.

Narrators – Many audio books these days are narrated by celebrities and in many cases the author themselves. Who better to guide you through a book and set the perfect tone than the person who understands the book best.


Audio books can either come in CD and USB stick form, which allow you to listen on a stereo/music system or any device that has a CD player or USB port. Or you can download a digital version in which case you can listen to audio books on your computer, MP3 player, tablet and mobile/smart phone. If you have an e-book reader, depending on which make it is, you can even activate the text to speech function and listen that way.

Buying audio books

Whether you want a digital version or a CD there are plenty of places you can buy audio books, some places even offer them free, they include:

Audiobooksforfree.com – A website where you can download more than a 1,500 out of copyright audio books for free by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, Lewis Carroll and many more. The books are read by volunteers.

Audio bookstore – An online source that holds over 100,000 titles available to download and stream.

Audible (owned by Amazon) – Offers a free 30 day trail, then you pay £7.99 a month. This gives you one credit each month good for any audio book.

iTunes – Apple don’t just sell music through iTunes, they sell audio books to.

Librivox – Has thousands of free downloadable audio books. Volunteers read out chapters of books which have gone out of copyright.

Naxos AudioBooks – In addition to publishing CDs Naxos also has a download shop offering MP3 audio books.

Shops – While most publishers tend to sell their audio books Audible or iTunes, some shops like Waterstones and WHSmiths sell audio books on cassette and CD both in store and online.

Abridged and unabridged

When searching for audio books you may come across these terms; unabridged audio books are the complete book word for word as it was written, abridged audio books are shortened versions of the original.

You might be interested to know about: e-books

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