At this time of year, it's hard to get enthused about getting out and about; instead wrapping up warm and cosy.
Whilst the festive television is on the way, listening to audiobooks is another great way to shut out the winter.
So, what is an audiobook?
An audiobook is a book that’s been read aloud and recorded by a narrator, which you can listen to from beginning to end, just as you would if you were reading a physical book.
Audiobooks are perfect for when you need to be hands-free, like when you’re driving, working or cooking, and are a wonderful way for those of us with limited visual abilities to experience the world of literature.
Most audiobooks are narrated by actors, professional audiobook narrators or, often, the authors themselves. A great reading brings emotion, expertise and atmosphere to the storytelling that you can’t get from the printed page. Sometimes they even have mood music and background sounds to bring the story to life even more.
Audible is probably the most well known of the audiobook services, and although it's owned by Amazon, it's run as a totally separate business. It's not part of Amazon Prime.
Having said that, there is a great tie-up between the two, when it comes to reading and listening - more on that later.
Audible probably has the world’s largest selection of audiobooks, audio dramas and they also have a catalogue of their own, exclusive, Audible Original Podcasts.
Not only do they have a huge catalogue of over 200,000 titles from the top UK publishers, including Pottermore, Penguin Random House and Harper Collins, but they also have Audible Originals; productions that have been commissioned especially by Audible.
All this is easy to purchase on their website.
However, the key is in their membership programme. For £7.99 per month, you have access to:
1 x credit per month, which you can use to download and keep any audiobook
Free Audible Original Podcasts - unlimited access to original, short audio programmes, documentaries and serialised drama
Keep your books forever, even if you cancel your subscription
Exclusive member-only savings - up to 60% off the retail price of any additional audiobook
Exchange any book for free, anytime, with the Great Listen Guarantee
They also offer a 30-day trial, and even the book you choose in that trial is yours to keep, if you decide not to continue.
Earlier, I mentioned the tie-in with Amazon, and this is where it gets interesting.
If you own the Kindle version of the book, you can add the audio companion, and two things can happen.
Firstly, you can listen as you read - the book highlights as you go along. This is good for children learning to read.
Second - you can listen (or read) and then automagically, pick up where you left off, on the other device.
So, read a bit before getting in the car.
Then start listening from the point you stopped reading, on the Audible app, and later on, when you don't need to concentrate on the road, you can start reading again from the latest point.
It's called WhisperSync, and it works very well. I've used it a few times.
Audible is a terrific service, with some really great originals - such as the Scarlet City trilogy - which is a dramatised version (with acting and sound to bring it to life).
There's The Martian, from Andy Weir, all the Harry Potter series, in fact, there's no point me going on - there's far too many to mention - but there is something for everyone.
With the Great Listen Guarantee, you've nothing to lose.
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