So You Want to Try Audiobooks…

Audiobooks are booming these days. The latest figures from the Audio Publishers Association show that sales were up 16% in 2019 (the eighth year in a row that they’ve gone up by double digits). So, to paraphrase John Hoynes from The West Wing: this just in—audiobooks are not a fad. 

If you’ve been wondering about giving audiobooks a try, here’s where to start. 


Finding audiobooks 

We’re admittedly biased, but we think Libro.fm is a pretty good place to start! We share profits with indie bookstores, so by buying audiobooks from us, you’re also investing in local communities.

We make it easy for you to find books you’ll like. Our homepage includes links to the current bestsellers, so that’s a helpful place to start.

Another thing you’ll find useful are our curated playlists, like the Indie Next list, New York Times Best Sellers, audiobooks about How to Be an Anti-Racist, and books on all kinds of topics from food to travel. If you want to browse, you can filter playlists by topic, mood, audience, and more. This is a great way to find audiobooks you’ll like. 

audiobook playlist for new york times bestsellers
anti-racists audiobook playlist with picks about racism, white fragility, and more
find bookseller-recommended audiobooks on the indie next playlist

Selecting the right audiobooks for you 

Experimenting with genres

For some people, having a novel read to them before bed is the perfect end to their day. Others find that hearing a memoir in the voice of its author is a fascinating window into their world. And some like having factual information relayed to them through a non-fiction audiobook. 

It might take a little bit of experimentation for you to find the genre that works best for you. 

Choosing your narrator

If you’re going to be spending 10–15 hours with someone’s voice in your ear, it’s important that you enjoy that voice. Reading reviews will help, but since preferences are so intensely personal, it’s a great idea to listen to the audiobook sample.

Pro tip: If you especially enjoy a particular narrator, clicking on their name and seeing a list of all the books they’ve worked on is a fun way to discover some books you might not otherwise have heard of. 


Buying audiobooks from Libro.fm

You can pay as you go for individual audiobooks, or sign up for a membership to get one credit per month. Membership tends to be a better value if you listen to audiobooks regularly, while the pay-as-you-go option is a good fit for the occasional listener.

When you buy an audiobook or sign up for a membership through Libro.fm, you’ll be prompted to choose the bookstore you’d like to support. At no extra cost to you, we share our profits with the indie you choose—for example, your local favorite or a Black-owned bookstore you’d like to support. Not only are you getting great stories piped to your ears, you’re also investing in local communities.


How to listen

The best way to listen to audiobooks is with the free Libro.fm app, where your book will automatically appear after you buy it . Just tap on the “Library” tab at the bottom to see your books, tap to download, and then press play. 

Features of the app include the ability to organize your library, a sleep timer so you can set an amount of listening time in case you fall asleep, and different listening speed options.

The choice of speeds is one many people find useful. If you’re learning a language, for example, it might help your understanding to slow down the speech of the narrator. On the other hand, if you’re trying to stuff as much reading into your life as quickly as possible, speeding up the narration can be useful. Some people find that speeding up the delivery also helps with their concentration.

Libro.fm audiobook listening app

What to do while you listen

If you’re not already an audiobook or podcast listener, you might be wondering what to do with your hands while you listen. Luckily, we’ve put together a handy guide of 18 audiobook-friendly activities!

things to do while listening to audiobooks

The great thing about audiobooks is that they can liven up any mindless or repetitive task, like cleaning or commuting (remember commuting?). You might even find yourself looking forward to loading and unloading the dishwasher if it’s a chance to fill your mind with stories or learn something new.


Do you have tips for beginner audiobook listeners? Let us know in the comments!

Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC, in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but really, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a monthly show about news and views from UK books and publishing; the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan; and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.



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