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An introduction to audiobooks

Listening to a book…? What’s next? Reading using our phones…?

A good book should be accessible without a magnifying glass. As a person ages, audiobooks may be an avenue you wish to explore. [Source: Shutterstock]

A good book should be accessible without a magnifying glass. As a person ages, audiobooks may be an avenue you wish to explore. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • An audiobook is a long-form audio dictation of a printed or electronic book
  • There are many different ways to access audiobooks, with or without subscribing to a service
  • Introductory offers may give you the chance to try out a subscription service at no cost and for a short period of time — although, unless you cancel the paid plan, you will be charged automatically when the trial has concluded


This edition of Aged Care Guide covers everything an older person needs to know about audiobooks, including the devices you can use to listen to an audiobook, the platforms which host a library of content and the benefits, along with the downsides of listening to books.

A stacked bookshelf may serve as a source of pride, but in the Information Age, you can hold the knowledge of the whole world in the palm of your hand. Making the switch to an audiobook or reading with the use of a device may seem inauthentic, unsatisfying or needlessly complicated at first, but this article will provide you with the power to make it work.

Audiobook devices

People may choose to listen or ‘read’ audiobooks through their chosen device if it is connected to the internet, capable of streaming or downloading audio content and can play sound at an appropriate volume.

For some people, a work, personal or office computer/laptop may be an appropriate choice, with the option to plug in or connect with a sound system. Others, however, may choose to listen to an audiobook through their smartphone, such as an iPhone or Android device.

If you don’t know whether your phone is suitable for audiobook streaming, consider speaking with someone who may be able to set you on the right path, such as your service provider or a tech-literate family member.

Smart televisions and smart speakers — such as an Amazon Echo — may also work for listening to an audiobook. If your smart television is connected to the internet, you may be able to download or open the YouTube app, which will allow you to search for recordings of the text.

Alternatively, if you would like to read along without tearing each page or squinting your eyes to see where one sentence ends and the next begins, consider purchasing a tablet or Kindle device, which will allow you to buy audiobooks or e-books. A tablet or Kindle device may be suited to you if you do not travel much and would prefer a wider screen to the portability of a smartphone. Depending on the brand and model of device, reading along on the page as you listen may be easier through zooming in on the text — to zoom, pinch two fingers together on the point you would like to expand and then gradually separate your fingers.

Where you can find audiobooks through your device

The majority of platforms which host audiobook content have both a mobile and web application — which means that you can access a library of audiobooks either on your computer, laptop or through downloading an app on your phone.

YouTube is a video sharing website and mobile application which users can access for free, although the platform is not solely dedicated to audiobooks. Although you can use YouTube for free, advertisements will play before or as you listen to an audiobook without subscribing to the ad-free version, which can be startling or annoying. Audiobooks on YouTube may also be segmented, meaning that the person who uploaded the recording has broken up the full text being read into several separate videos. If this is the case, click on the name or icon of the person who uploaded the video, which will be under the title — then, select the ‘videos’ tab to find the next chapter/video.

Audible is an audiobook service which is operated by Amazon and it hosts the widest variety, along with the highest quality, audiobook recordings. Audible will offer new users a free trial, which you will need to enter payment details for. Unless you have manually cancelled your Audible subscription, you will continue to be charged after the trial has ended, for each payment cycle. The ‘free trial’ is actually a way for the company to make money if you forget you are now a ‘subscriber.’

Spotify is another streaming service for audio content, although the company is generally focused on music and podcasts — which are like online radio stations — as opposed to long-form dictation of classic texts. If you would prefer a slightly limited library with the option to listen to music, a paid subscription to Spotify may be of interest. Much like YouTube, Spotify can be accessed for free, although advertisements will frequently disrupt your listening experience.


You may benefit from switching to audiobooks due to:

  • The ability to listen — rather than struggling to read small or illegible text in print books
  • The ability to listen with others — rather than reading as an isolated activity
  • The affordability and catalogue of services — rather than purchasing one book or racking up travel expenses to the public library, you can have access to a wide variety for a relatively small fee
  • The ability to enjoy a book while your hands are occupied or if you live with an impairment — rather than pulling over and reading during long drives


You may dislike transitioning to audiobooks if:

  • You consider subscription services to be predatory or difficulty to manage
  • You dislike listening to someone else read or simply their voice
  • You are a traditionalist
  • You live with an auditory impairment or are hard of hearing
  • You dislike technology
  • You would need to purchase an expensive device to access audiobooks
  • You like to take notes, fold the corners of pages or leave messages


Have you switched to audiobooks or do you intend to start listening? Let us know whether you prefer the traditionalist approach to a good story or if you’re keen to embrace the digital world.

If you’re anything like the author of this article, a packed bookshelf will never go out of style.

Related content:

Latest technology to assist and entertain during retirement

Finding purpose in your retirement

How to maintain and improve mobility and reduce falls


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