I am Completely Devoted to Downloadable Audiobooks

Although I appreciate the convenience and sheer availablility of eBooks, I'm one of those people who loves leafing through the pages of a solid book in my hands. I far prefer a hard copy to reading text on a screen. So I thought I was perhaps just a tech-averse person.

Not so, I discovered! Even though I figured I'd have the same reaction to downloadable audiobooks, once I took the plunge, I realized it was one of the best trains I ever jumped onto. The CD audibook's digital cousin is, in my view, superior in every imaginable way. Here's a few reasons why I've converted (and a few downloadable suggestions for you!):

1. They return automatically

Have you ever had to pay for an item you forgot to return or lost completely? I have. And audiobooks aren’t cheap. Happily, digital Audiobooks from Libby and Hoopla simply expire after the allotted time and will no longer be stored on your device. You don’t have to worry about it! This has saved my wallet so many times I can’t even tell you.

Where We Belong

2. You don’t have to change the CD while driving

I cannot emphasize this enough. NO MORE CD JUGGLING.

I used to try to change audiobook CDs mid road trip. Let me tell you (or maybe I don’t have to tell you)—slipping a CD one-handed into its case sleeve while driving is no easy task. Not to mention unsafe. Sometimes I just had to let the disk autoplay from the beginning until the traffic relented to a point where I felt I could multitask.

Now I am liberated: When I play a book in Libby or Hoopla, there’s no suspense about when I’ll be able to continue; as long as I've downloaded it onto my portable device, and have my device hooked up to my car, my book plays from start to end without a hitch.

"A" Is for Alibi

3. No scratched disks

We love how everyone in our community gets to share library items! But the more an item is used, of course, the more it wears out. And sometimes you're the unlucky person who discovers that a disc no longer plays properly. It's especially unfortunate when that happens right at the good part! But downloads can't get scratched because they don't exist physically! It's magic. 

Happy City

4. A new format leads to creativity

Sometimes, part of a book just doesn’t work as well when it’s read out loud. Luckily for us, creative audiobook producers have found ways to tweak the book in a very small way to make it a slightly different experience. Sometimes the narrator performs a song instead of reading out lyrics, such as Bri's raps in On the Come Up. Sometimes the producers include the audio of an interview rather than the narrator reading the quotes, like in Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers. And sometimes it’s just about having fun, as you’ll discover if you try Neil Patrick Harris’ Choose Your Own Autobiography.

On the Come up

Talking to Strangers

Neil Patrick Harris

5. The narrator can make it better

The energy introduced by an audiobook narrator can vault my book experience from "meh" to "magnificent." A good narrator can make bland nonfiction spring to life. They can inject a formerly boring character with humor, regality, or forcefulness. They can transform old, "literary" language into something understandable to the modern ear.

If all your friends loved a book and you just couldn't get into it, maybe it's worth trying an audiobook! And downloadable audiobooks can give you options as far as narrators go. I particularly enjoy seeing what's availble on Hoopla vs. Libby (and sometimes Hoopla even has multiple narrator options available!).



Jane Austen: the Complete Novels (sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion...)

So what are you waiting for?

Herrick District Library cardholders have access to two digital catalogs of audiobooks: Libby by Overdrive, and Hoopla Digital. They are also both available as Android or Apple apps, typically the more convenient format for those on-the-go.

Want to know more? Check out our FAQs on digital audiobooks:


  • Hoopla Flex is a new way to check out popular and bestselling titles from Hoopla. Most titles on Hoopla are available instantly, no matter how many people want to check them out at one time, with no need to place them on hold. Hoopla Flex titles act more like traditional library books, where each copy of a title can only be used by one person at a time. If someone else has a Hoopla Flex title checked out, you can place a hold on it using the Hoopla app. You can only borrow up to 3 Hoopla Flex titles at a time, but Hoopla Flex titles do not count towards your 15 monthly Hoopla borrows.

  • Sometimes, when Libby updates, it can cause your app to lose connection. To reestablish this connection, go into the settings of Libby, tap on your library card and select ACTIONS. Choose Remove Card. A warning will pop up letting you know that all of your downloaded titles will be removed, but this will not return anything, so proceed. Then, re-enter your library card information again, same as you did the first time you set up Libby. This should reset your app’s connection with Libby and you shouldn’t have to verify your card anymore.