Blog Archives

The Cheapskate’s Guide to Acquiring Audiobooks

Before I instruct on the surprisingly simple art of acquiring audiobooks in a remarkably monetarily efficient manner, let’s get 2 things out of the way.

1. This post presupposes that you don’t need to purchase a particular book at a specific time (e.g., as soon as it comes out). For example, I have 700+ books on my To Read least in Goodreads, so reading a new book by an author (even one that I really like), is not something that I generally do. I actually plan the books I’m going to read a year in advance (call this obsessive if you like, but I do allow myself to deviate from that plan. I just like to have goals and I’m a slow reader, so if it’s important to me to read a book, then I want to make sure I get to it). Okay, so if you can also wait patiently for a Twitter or Facebook or email announcement that an author or their publisher has discounted one of their books, then you’re halfway there.

2. The second prerequisite is that you prefer audiobooks to the exclusion of almost anything else. For me, this is more out of necessity than anything else. If I’m going to sit down with my iPad or my Kindle Paperwhite (or any other eReader), it’s almost certainly because I’ve got a technical or programming book that I need to (and sometimes even want to!) get through. So in order to “read” fiction books, I have to make use of times when I’m cleaning the floors, or weeding, or mowing the lawn, or even just walking to work.

Okay, so, given that you’re still reading, or skipped over that part to get to the goods… It’s really quite simple.

Cheap Audiobooks

Say, for example, that you – like me – have heard good things about Starship Eternal, so you head to Amazon to check it out…

Screenshot 2015-05-30 13.26.21

If I was in Kindle Unlimited, I could read the Kindle edition for free, so that’s probably the ultimate cheapskate way to do it. I have a “shipping only” version of Amazon Prime that I got because someone “shared” it with me, so as long as they keep paying for full Amazon Prime, I get my Prime shipping but no Amazon Instant Video nor Kindle Library nor Kindle Unlimited nor anything else. Plus, remember, I’m a slow reader who relies on audiobooks anyway, so the Kindle edition, while the cheapest option at $3.99 is going to cost me reading time on other books that don’t even have an audiobook. (Can you imagine Java 8 in Action in audiobook? Spoiler Alert: It’s not going to work.)

But the audiobook version is $26.95 (or $14.95 if you subscribe to Audible). That’s a big difference.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to close the gap…

Screenshot 2015-05-30 13.26.06

Wait – does that really say “Add Audible Narration for $2.99” when you buy the Kindle edition?

Indeed it does.

And $3.99 + $2.99 is much less than $26.95. Less than $14.95 too. In fact, it’s more than 55% off the Audible subscriber price!

And that’s really all there is to it. I’ve done it for 10 different books now and the only consequence is that I’ve got a lot of great audiobooks to read.

Here’s another even more extreme example:
Screenshot 2015-05-30 13.32.36

You can get The Winds of Khalakovo for $2.98 vs $29.95 for the Audible edition by itself.

And just to clarify, this isn’t just for author’s who are offering these books themselves (independently published). I’ve bought Perdido Street Station, Blackbirds, and No Return like this. If you go check right now, all of those are a lot more expensive, but since we’ve already assumed that you don’t need to buy one of them right now, you can wait until the author or publisher decides to throw a discount your way and then go take shameless advantage.

Advertisements

Audible Control Center Options (Life Changer)

Okay, this may not change your life, but for me it has quite literally brought about a new found sense of ease and happiness while listening to audiobooks.

If you use the Audible app for iOS (or Android I would assume as well) and you use it on your smartphone while walking around or doing chores or whatever, then you’ve probably had someone say something to you or a train or a loud truck go by that causes you to miss part of the book you’re listening to.

Arg! and Be quiet! Can’t you see I’m listening to an audiobook! Do not disturb!

Anyway, until a week ago, I was not aware that you could actually change the behavior of the “Control Center” for Audible. What does that mean? The Control Center is evidently the name for the lock screen that you get when you’re listening to music or an audiobook or some other app that uses what I can only assume is the Audio API. This is what it would look like if you’d just started listening to No Return by Zachary Jernigan (on sale for a ridiculous $4.49 on Amazon/Audible at the time of this writing):

audible-control-center

What is the behavior you could (and probably should) change? Well, there’s those arrows to each side of the Play/Pause button. If you’re listening to music, it’s pretty obvious that they’ll go back and forth in your playlist. But for an audiobook? You’d probably assume they’d go back and forth between chapters (and you’d be right). But chapters in audiobooks tend to be long. I’ve never actually wanted to skip ahead or back a whole chapter. (Maybe someone else has) But if you go to the Settings in Audible and scroll down a little, you’ll see a setting for the Control Center. In the screenshot below it’s already set to Jump Seconds, but as mentioned, the default is Chapter Skip.

audible-settings

Hit that Chapter Skip and you’ll get the next screen where you can change it to Jump Seconds. Then you can go back and customize how many seconds you want the app to jump forward or back. (I like 20 seconds, obviously. I listen at 1.25x usually and 30 seconds is a bit too far for most interruptions or external noises. 20 seconds at 1.25 speed is really only 16 seconds and if I were listening to a book where I had to 1x it, I’d probably change that setting to 10 seconds instead – 15 seconds would probably be ideal in that case, but it’s not an option).

jump-seconds

That’s all. Now you can back up quickly and efficiently without having to unlock your phone. Life: changed. You’re welcome. 🙂