Audiobooks: Saving Road Trips (and Marriages) One Story at a Time

Every summer, my hubby and I pack up our car with road snacks, vacation clothes, fishing gear, our dog and all of her gear, and we set off on the 19-hour drive from Colorado to my parents’ house in northern Wisconsin. (And when I say northern Wisconsin, we’re basically talking about the UP.)

Over the years we’ve become pretty adept at finding the best local drive-thru coffee shops (bonus if it has doughnuts), the cleanest rest stops along I-80 and I-35, and the most dog-friendly hotels. What we haven’t been able to figure out is how to shorten the driving distance or speed up time.

That is, until we embraced audiobooks.

We started with books on CD, gladly accepting anything offered to us by friends and family so we didn’t have to pay for them. Over many thousands of miles we’ve walked along the Appalachian Trail with Bill Bryson, cheered Harry Potter in his fight against Voldemort, shared in former-president Obama’s audacity of hope, and took names and kicked a$& with Jason Bourne.

Since then, we got smart and now use Poudre River Public Libraries for all of our audiobooks – including downloadable digital audiobooks (eAudiobooks) that we play directly through our car’s speakers using Bluetooth. This summer’s trek brought us on thrilling adventures to the freezing surfaces of Antarctica with Sigma Force to a small snowy town in Montana with Jack Reacher.

Prior to bringing audiobooks along on the trip, we actually had to talk to each other or play the license plate game to make the endless summer construction cone zones pass along more pleasantly. Typically we ran out of new and interesting stuff to talk about just east of Sidney, Nebraska and had to fall back to trivial conversation or pointing out all the bad drivers on the road. (Sheesh, who gave that guy a license? Are they still fixing on this road? What’s with “donut”? It should be spelled “doughnut” because it’s a nut of dough, duh.)

Popularity of Audiobooks

We’re certainly not the only ones turning to audiobooks for family road trips, work outs, or long commutes. The national surge in audiobook and eAudiobook popularity can arguably be traced to a number of factors like the improvement in mobile technology, the widespread availability of audiobooks and other digital media at public libraries, and even the success of Audible.

Here at the Library District, we’ve seen a steady increase in checkouts from our physical audiobook collection as well as our digital audiobooks through OverDrive, hoopla, and RB Digital (formerly OneClick).

In fact, in the period between January 1, 2017 and today, nearly 15,000 unique eAudiobook titles were downloaded from hoopla alone.

If we had to shelve that many titles in our physical audiobook collection, we would need to add almost 1,200 linear feet of shelving – double what we have currently!

And it seems that there’s an audiobook for every reader’s interest. The top digital audiobook titles downloaded from the Library include everything from fiction to self-help and from mystery to memoir.

Check out our slideshow of top 10 eAudiobooks (blog post continues after slideshow).

[slider id=”2017-popular-eaudiobooks”]

If you haven’t had a chance to check out a CD audiobook or download a digital one, now is a great time. With family road trips coming up around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter holidays, why not enjoy a good story and avoid the constant barrage of “Are we there yet?” It might just save your road trip (or your marriage).

From now until the end of 2017, any time you download an eAudiobook (or eBook) using the Library’s OverDrive app, it counts toward our end-of-year goal to surpass 268,000 OverDrive downloads and makes the Library District eligible to win money to purchase even more titles for our OverDrive collection!

If you’re not an OverDrive user, we also have eAudiobooks available through hoopla, RB Digital, Librivox, and Odilo, and you can check out audiobooks on CD from our regular library collection.

Any of our Library staff would be happy to help you learn how to download library materials so you can read or listen to book anytime, anywhere.