I have always been a big fan of audiobooks.
Did you know that you can get the equivalent of a university education in terms of classroom time during your commute to work in just a few years? Most university students spend 10 hours or so per week in class and about 250 hours per year; the average commute is one hour (30 minutes each way) per day or 240 hours per year. So leveraging this time by listening to informative (i.e. non-fiction) audiobooks is incredibly productive and can make a real impact on your life.
I used to have a huge carry-case full of audiobooks and lectures on cassette tape (wikipedia reference for cassette tape for those of you who do not remember them). I then created an equally large library on CD when cassette’s went the way of the dodo. Not too long ago, I converted both libraries to MP3 and always had them available in my iPod.
But although I would occasionally listen to something from my library, I didn’t purchase a new audio book for the past five years or so. The reason? It became too complicated. Either you purchased a CD version of a book and either lugged that around with you in your car or you had to take the time to convert it to an mp3 and then transfer to your iPod or other mp3 player. You could have used Audible.com, but they had their own proprietary player at the time and when they did convert to mp3 it all had to be done on your PC and, well it was too much of a pain.
I guess I stopped looking for new “books on tape” as I used to call them and just recycle from my existing library. That is until a few weeks ago, when I rediscovered Audible.com. And finally, it is simple again!
Amazon purchased Audible.com in 2008 and it seems they have really improved the service. They now have an iPhone app (iTunes link) which allows you to purchase books directly within it and listen to them wherever you take your phone. You can also visit the Audible.com web site and when you purchase a book, you can have it sent to your Kindle! I didn’t know that Kindle’s played audiobooks – how cool is that?
I feel like I am rediscovering audio books all over again.. its pretty awesome.
My commute to work is short – 10 mins each way. But I walk my dog three times a day. During the past two weeks, I read Rework by Jason Fried – all during my very short commute and my lunch-time dog walk. And am now listening to Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.
Don’t be put off by book snobs either. If you get the unabridged version, then having the book read to you while you do something else (like driving with your eyes on the road) is the same as reading it. Naturally, some books are better when you have the text in front of you for something called “deep reading”, but you just have to experiment and find what works best for you.
If you have an iPhone – download the Audible.com app and buy a book. Try it. Get more out of your commute. Read when you are doing other things. If you think you don’t have time to read anymore, then perhaps you should think again.
I’m a fan of audiobooks too. I’m listening to Steve Jobs biography that I got at the library, loaded onto iTunes and then my shuffle. Then I got GoalZero speakers that run on solar and hold about 20 hours of charge. They’re lightweight and super portable. Love them. I’m looking for content to stream through my phone too. I could do either way.
This is pretty much the only way I read books anymore. I don’t have the attention span or time otherwise. But that time in the car on the way to work (one day a week for me but a 2 hour commute) is perfect.
Personally, I think I prefer to read fiction.. but non-fiction (business, biographies, etc) – there is no better way in my opinion. Like you, attention span and time are major constraints.
The Steve Jobs biography in particular is pretty excellent don’t you think?Have you tried Audible.com? The phone app is great now.