by Tony Rushin
Yes, I know my grammar is wrong. Why do we ask: “Read any good books lately?” but by contrast ask, “Listen to any good books lately?” My suspicion is that reading is viewed as an active action where the reader is in control while listening is more passive and is something done to the listener. Anyway, my point isn’t to get all philosophical; I have a practical tip: listening to audio books.
I’m the kind of reader who has 2 or 3 (or 4) books going at once. When I changed my morning routine a few months ago I looked for an easy way to listen to books on my iPhone 4 while I worked out. Tech exec and productivity guru Dave Nelsen recommends Audible.com so that was good enough for me. I subscribed and haven’t been disappointed.
Here are some facts:
–Audible.com is owned by Amazon.
-They have over 100,000 audio books.
-It’s a subscription service. Regular monthly rate is $14.95 which includes a “free” book each month.
-They have other plans and occasional deals as well. I lucked into $7.95 / month for 12 months plus The Morning Read from The Wall Street Journal.
Here are a few practical tips I picked up along the way:
– Don’t try to untangle ear buds while walking on a treadmill at 4 mph; bad things will happen.
-Speaking of tangled ear buds, I now own 5 pairs of Panasonic RPHJE120G In-Ear Headphones. I keep a pair everywhere for convenience: gym bag, car, home office, work office, brief case. I like them. Very comfortable. $6.09 each from Amazon.com.
-And to keep the ear buds organized I bought this little doodad. I was skeptical when bought it – $4.99 for a small piece of flexible plastic? – but it works great and I’m all about convenience. Also from Amazon.com.
-I get bored listening to the narrator speaking at regular speed. Audible lets you turn up the speed: 1.5x, 2x, 3x. I find that 2x works great for me.
-When I hear something I want to go back to later I bookmark it.
With these tips I’ve found that I can be an active book listener and get a lot out of a text. I still like reading – and highlighting – a business book so I can easily reference key ideas later but setting bookmarks in an audio book is useful. Plus, I can’t beat the productivity of listening while walking, peddling, climbing or lifting at the gym.
As an alternative, I just read on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (which I have on Flipboard) about a Siri trick to turn an iBook into an audiobook. It may be worth checking out if you have Siri (alas, I’m in the dark ages with a Siri-less iPhone 4) and own iBooks.
Does anyone have experience with Audible.com, Siri reading iBooks or any other audible book solutions? If you’re a time-constrained professional – especially an attorney or staff person at a law firm – I’d love to hear from you. What are your audiobook best practices?