Simply Audiobooks is a company that specializes in the modern version of books-on-tape – audio books on CD, MP3, or WMA format, all of which are downloadable from the company’s website. Simply Audiobooks boasts that the guiding principle of their company is that ‘both time and money are precious’, and these audio books do save you both, but also delivered quality story-telling that was presently surprising.
There are two options of ‘book clubs’ that you can join on www.simplyaudiobooks.com: the Unlimited Rental Club and the Monthly Download Club. The Rental Club allows you to rent audio books for a particular period of time – you don’t download the books, but instead have them sent to you via mail by the company.
Once you are finished with the audio book (on a CD), you send it back to the company and they send you the next book on your rental list, which you create online. Simply Audiobooks pays for the shipping both ways. The rates for the rental plans vary between $15/month for an Annual Plan to $37.98 for a monthly option. The rates increase with the number of books a user wants to rent at once (up to three books). As standard practice with most Internet purchases, all of the subscriptions must be paid by credit card.
The other option, the Monthly Download Club, is the one I used. The rates for the download club are substantially cheaper than its counterpart. For example, a 1 Book/Month monthly plan comes in at $14.95, while a Monthly Plan for the rental option costs $17.98. The download club allows users to download Audiobooks to a computer, and is yours to keep once it’s saved to your hard drive.
I chose to download The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, a novel about a boy growing up and returning to Afghanistan after the invasion of the USSR in the late 1970s. I saw the movie last year and have wanted to read the book for a while. It did, however, take some time to come across this title. There is an American, UK and Canadian option for this website, and it seems that Americans have a much wider selection of non-fiction books to choose from. I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction when it comes to pleasure reading (I read enough textbooks for school), so I found this a bit disappointing.
After a quick and painless download process, The Kite Runner opened automatically in Window’s Media Player. The author of the novel narrates the book, which I thought was amazing. The narration was very clear, entertaining and engaging. The book, written in English, has numerous Farsi words throughout it and the narrator pronounced every word perfectly, which was very refreshing (although expected, as it was the author himself reading!) The narrator had a slightly Afghani accent, but not strong enough to make listening difficult.
The best aspect about The Kite Runner audio book was that it sounded like the narrator was telling a story – not just reading from a text. I have always steered away from audio books because I didn’t want to feel like I was being read to. The Kite Runner, however, sounded like someone had recorded their memoir and I was just lucky enough to listen.
But, before downloading anything from Simply Audiobooks, you must keep in mind the size of the files. They’re huge – for audio files, anyways. The Kite Runner came in at 131 MB and took up at least 60 tracks on my Media Player. The entire book runs over 4 hours (keep in mind the book is almost 400 pages long) and it’s not easy to ‘bookmark’ where you left off if you want to listen to the book in multiple sessions.
Overall, I was impressed with the quality of the Simply Audiobooks product, and would suggest the website to anyone who is looking for audio books. I still, however, prefer to read my novels, but I will be syncing The Kite Runner to my iPod when I go on two long train rides this summer to Quebec City and Nova Scotia. Simply Audiobooks have offices in Toronto, Canada, Buffalo, NY and Las Vegas, NV., where audio books in CD format can be purchased.