At No1Reviews.com, we always strive to make sure that our reviews are the most useful and comprehensive you will find anywhere online. This buying guide is intended to provide general information and guidance that can be used to supplement our in-depth expert reviews and provide a general introduction to the services on offer at sites within this category.
Audiobooks have been popular for a long time, although for a good while it was only those who struggled to read regular books who used them. These days, more and more people are discovering the joy of having a book read to them and this is where online audiobook websites come into play. While online bookstores have existed for years, many of which specialised solely in audiobooks, the growth of downloadable media has meant that many services have sprung up to take advantage of this technology within the context of audiobooks. Services in this category range from rental subscription services and streaming services, to download services and regular stores, although all are perfect if you love audiobooks or would like to give them a try!
Although our in-depth reviews give our readers the real low-down on the pros and cons of the most-visited sites in this market, the following list of features helps focus them on what to look out for when checking out our expert reviews. This is especially important as the sites we feature here vary considerably, each offering users different services in different ways. What follows ensures you know exactly what to look out for, so that you get the most out of our expert reviews each and every time.
- Type of Media
A major consideration for customers at online Audiobook Stores is the media types supported or used by a particular service. In the past, all audiobooks were delivered to customers in the form of either cassette tapes (now extremely rare) or, more recently on CD’s. In the vast majority of cases however, these forms of media are very much out of fashion, and most stores will provide all or most of their products in digital form. These files can be quickly downloaded, transferred between devices (and often between users) and are supported by every computer on the market with little (if any) software adjustment. The most common digital files for audiobooks are MP3 and M4B, although other file types may be used on occasion. Be sure to check our expert reviews to ascertain which sites cater to your particular requirements regarding media types!
- Device Support
In the modern world, being able to take your media with you everywhere you go is a big consideration. This is equally important when it comes to audiobooks, so be sure to check out whether the site you’re interested in supports your particular device (be it an iPod, Creative Zen, Zune, Android or whatever). As most audiobook sites either deliver audiobooks as MP3 or M4B files, or on CD (which can be easily converted into these files), most media players should be able to handle audiobooks just fine. It’s always worth checking however, and in particular, it’s worth finding out whether the site in question offers technical support and advice for your particular device, too, in case you come across any problems along the way.
- Variety & Choice
Variety and choice is easily one of the most important considerations for any online audiobook site, as it is with almost every type of retail. Our readers should look out for sites with large collections (often referred to as “libraries”) of audiobooks to choose from, so that they have the best chance of finding something they would like to read on the site. Users should also find a site where the latest books and biggest best-sellers are freely available without a substantial wait – especially if they have a subscription to the site – so that they aren’t disappointed when they can’t get hold of the books they’re looking for.
- Shop or Subscription?
A big area of difference that our readers will identify when they check out our reviews in this category is what they actually get for their money. Some sites just offer their customers rental services (with CD's delivered directly to their address in a manner similar to movie services such as LoveFilm, for example), while others offer download subscriptions or regular ‘online stores’. The main differences between the sites is the need to subscribe and whether you want to rent or buy your audiobooks, so this is definitely going to influence which site a particular user chooses. If you don’t want to be locked in to a site for any length of time or wish to own your audiobooks so that you can listen to them again and again, a rental site probably isn’t for you. Check out what’s on offer at each site by reading our in-depth reviews.
- FAQs and Customer Service Support
Although it’s definitely not the most exciting of considerations when deciding which site to choose, it’s definitely important to ensure that the site you pick offers great customer service support in case you have any problems. Most sites offer a FAQs page (“Frequently Asked Questions”), letting users address common issues themselves with ease, while the best sites will have customer service support through a range of means, including email and phone. Although most users use these sites without any problems at all, it’s definitely something to bear in mind when checking out our expert reviews.
While this general guide is not intended to provide guidance on the exact cost of particular services, it is worth noting some of the differences in pricing structure within this category. The cost of audiobooks through the services included in this category is almost always considerably cheaper than buying the same products within retail stores, so users almost always get a good deal regardless of which site they choose. Some subscription sites are more expensive than others however (particularly those sites specializing in rentals, where there is considerable fluctuation), so it’s definitely worth checking out the details of pricing and subscription in our expert reviews in order to compare sites accurately.
While sites differ considerably, both in terms of what’s on offer and how much they charge, ultimately customers need to decide how much they are willing to pay and find the best offering within that price bracket. The free trials on offer at many sites, as well as the discounts offered for new customers, may sway our readers into choosing a particular site, but fundamentally, it’s all about choosing the best deal for the long term. If you’re only interesting in buying individual audiobooks however, and not subscribing to any service, by all means join more than one site and take advantage of the discounts and promotions on offer throughout the year.