Audible sells audio versions of books, newspapers, magazines, TV programs, and radio. Audible offers a free 30 day trial, which translate into one free audiobook. Users can listen online or through an app on their phone. Audible also has an exchange guarantee anytime users don't like a book they bought. They also allows members to cancel their membership at anytime.
Established in 1998, they are one of the oldest retailers of audio entertainment. Ten years later, in 2008, Amazon bought Audible for 300 million dollars. Today, they have the largest selection of books and other written work in audio format.
The iTunes software was purchased by Apple in 2000. On January 9, 2001, iTunes 1.0 was released at Macworld in San Francisco. Through the iTunes store you can download, music, music videos, television shows, audiobooks, podcasts, movies, and ringtones.
OverDrive Inc. has a long history of providing free content to the public. In 1986, they entered the industry by distributing CD-ROM products. Since 2000, the company has solely focused on electronic content. Today they distribute music, videos, eBooks, and audiobooks. OverDrive Inc. works with more than 5,000 publishers and 30,000 libraries. They help people find content through their local library. To use OverDrive Inc., you just log onto their website and enter your location. From there, they will show you locations in your area you can pull online material from. These locations include schools and libraries. Once you find a provider in your area, you can begin to search for books. You can also work backwards and look for audiobooks on their website, and then see if they are available to rent through a local library. Because you are essentially renting an audio or ebook from the library, you will probably have to place items on hold and wait for them to be ready to borrow. You enter your email and are notified when the book is available. Most libraries will not tell you how long the wait is.
In 2012, Barnes & Noble released a new tablet designed mainly for reading books. The Barnes & Noble tablet, Nook, has capabilities similar to computer tablets, including the ability to listen to audiobooks. Today, Nook has an app that is available on the Nook tablet, Windows phones, and Android phones. With their app, people can download ebooks and audiobooks to listen to on the go. Barnes & Noble sold around 5 million Nook tablets in less than a year. Today, the number of people who use Nook continues to grow. While they do feature audiobooks you can purchase, the company mostly sells ebooks.
Project Gutenberg was the first provider of free electronic books. Mich Hart, founder of the project, invented eBooks in 1971. Hart figured that the greatest value created by computers would not be computing, but would be the storage, retrieval, and searching of what was stored in the libraries. Their effort to digitalize books has been very successful. They have 49,200 books documented on their site. Many other audiobook companies pull from their written digital library to record them. Companies that do so also offer their content for free. Project Gutenberg’s mission is “to encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks”.
Since 2006, when Open Culture was founded, they have been working to centralize the great amounts of intelligent audio and video. They desire to give you access to the high quality content whenever and wherever you want it. Open Culture offers free audiobooks, online courses, certificate courses, movies, textbooks, ebooks, and language learning for users. If there is something specific you want to look into, you can use their search function to browse their archives. The lead editor, Dan Colman, is the Director and Associate Dean of Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program. He received his PhD and MA from Stanford, and his BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has always wanted to bring relevant information to large audiences.
LibriVox is a free database of audiobooks that began in 2005. The organization’s mission is, “to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.” LibriVox utilizes volunteers to record chapters of books that are in the public domain. Anyone can volunteer to read a book in any language. To pay for expenses, LibriVos relies on these volunteers, as well as fundraising. LibriVox partners with Project Gutenberg (where they get most of their text), and Internet Archive for hosting audiofiles. The site lets users browse books by author, title, genre, and language. There is also a basic search function. Because LibriVox only uses public domain books, their selection is limited. To date, LibriVox has over 8600 audiobooks, 1200 non-English audiobooks, audiobooks in 35 languages, and 6800 readers.
Storynory was founded by Hugh Fraser and Matthew Lynn. They met at Oxford University in the 1980s where they both worked on Isis, the student magazine. In 1995 they founded a company to help businesses in the emerging area of social media. Over lunch they discussed branching out into their own publishing business. Podcasts were very new and interesting at that time and Hugh had a background in radio. Mathew said that his children listened to audio in the car and enjoyed it. Storynory was then created. Natasha was their first narrator and has become a huge hit. The Storynory website reflects the nature of their books. It's very easy to navigate, and has lots of drawings / pictures of characters.
Loyal Books is a free service that provides audiobook and ebook downloads. Before changing their name to Loyal Books, the company was called Books Should Be Free. While the site does not provide a lot of information about the product or company, they do have an email address on their ‘About Us’ page for individuals to get in touch with them. Because Loyal Books only has audiobooks that are in the public domain, their selection is limited. Books become public domain books when no one holds a copyright on them. This means that any company can distribute them for free. Audiobooks on Loyal Books are voiced by volunteers.
Recorded Books has been publishing unabridged audiobooks since 1979. Today, they have a selection of 22,000 audiobooks to choose from in CD form and digital media. Media provided by Recorded Books is designed for individual, school, professional, and infotainment use. In early 2014, Recorded Books was acquired by Wasserstein & Co., a private equity and investment firm. In addition to offering audiobooks, Recorded Books also offers eBooks, movies, games, and help with language learning.