Audiobooks have come a long way since books on tape. Most vendors now offer e-audiobooks as digital files that can be streamed online or downloaded for offline listening. When deciding on digital content vendors, libraries need to determine if they are looking for a company that offers only e-audiobooks or if they need a solution offering different media types, including ebooks and streaming video. The following are some major e-audiobook vendors and their features to help libraries make an informed decision about their options.
An AudioBookCloud subscription grants unlimited streaming access to its entire collection of 1,400 titles. Libraries can sign up with a username and password that they can then share with their patrons. Patrons don’t need to install software or download any files; they can access the service via a direct link on the library’s website and listen to e-audiobooks while connected to the internet. There are no holds or waiting periods because AudioBookCloud allows for simultaneous use of its content. To recommend titles, libraries can add e-audiobooks to their My Favorites list. Genres include classic literature, fiction, nonfiction, children’s and young adult books, science fiction, Spanish-language books, and contemporary blockbusters, with more titles added periodically. Interested users can sign up for a free 30-day trial. A full subscription is $999 per year, with discounts for multiple library branches and regional consortia.
Axis 360 is Baker & Taylor’s digital media circulation platform for public and school libraries, featuring more than 1 million ebooks and e-audiobooks. With its Acoustik e-audiobooks, patrons get direct-to-device downloading for titles. They can use the Axis 360 mobile app to browse the library’s collection as well as check out and listen to content. Items can be placed on hold (with a notation about the patron’s spot in line) and added to the patron’s wish list. Additionally, ILS integration using APIs helps patrons discover this content from within the library’s catalog. Libraries can use Title Source 360 to order both their physical materials and econtent, which will be available to patrons within hours of ordering. To help libraries with marketing, Axis 360 offers a dedicated resource for print, web, and social media promotion.
EBSCO eBooks and Audiobooks
EBSCO Information Services’ ebook and e-audiobook platform is integrated with EBSCOhost so that search results return ebooks, e-audiobooks, and databases. Patrons can also search e-audiobooks by author, title, language, length, and other options. Before deciding on a title, they can listen to samples and then download the chosen title to their computer or mobile device. The e-audiobooks have detailed metadata such as publisher information, narrator, length, file size, checkout time remaining, and an abstract. Libraries can build a collection from hundreds of thousands of ebook and e-audiobook titles, including best sellers, frontlist titles, and award winners, covering popular fiction as well as academic and medical subjects. They can customize e-audiobook carousels so patrons can see curated lists such as new titles or featured titles. EBSCO also offers prepackaged collections themed to various topics and the option of patron-driven acquisition (PDA). There are no fees or markups on any title, and EBSCO provides libraries with ongoing support and training.
Public and university libraries can subscribe to hoopla for access to e-audiobooks, digital movies, TV shows, music, ebooks, and comics. Patrons use their library card to sign up with the service and can listen to e-audiobooks via their browsers, smartphones, or tablets. They can also download the files for offline listening, with a loan period of 21 days before the title automatically deletes from the user’s collection. The library sets the maximum amount of titles a patron can borrow each month, and patrons will see a blue banner displaying how many titles they have left. The e-audiobook offerings are organized by genre (e.g., Business, Classics, or Romance), collection (e.g., Adapted To Film, Stomp Out Bullying, and Urban Fiction), and popularity, as well as in a Featured section. hoopla has hundreds of thousands of titles in its total collection and adds new content weekly.
OneClickdigital, owned by audiobook publisher Recorded Books, gives libraries access to both e-audiobooks and ebooks from an exclusive Recorded Books eAudio collection of 22,000 titles, and it offers titles from all major publishers. There are a wide variety of genres, including award-winning children’s and young adult titles, and patrons can search by series, author, publisher, narrator, genre, or keyword. With the OneClickdigital app, patrons can view their checked-out audiobooks and ebooks from the same interface, search the library’s entire OneClickdigital collection, and manage their content (i.e., check out, place holds on, download, or listen to titles). Libraries don’t have to pay setup fees, and they get free patron support, marketing services, and staff training, as well as access to a comprehensive administrative site and a customizable website with their own branding for patrons to use.
OverDrive offers more than 2 million ebooks, audiobooks, and videos to public, school, academic, and corporate libraries. Patrons can listen to the e-audiobooks via their browsers using the OverDrive Listen platform or via mobile devices using the OverDrive app. With OverDrive Listen, no downloads or software are required. A Jump button lets users rewind for 5 seconds; they can also change the volume and playback speed. From the app, they can download an MP3 file of the title to a variety of devices, including to CDs in most cases, for offline listening. On the title menu for each e-audiobook, there is an overview, table of contents, and list of the patron’s saved bookmarks. When searching the OverDrive catalog, patrons can filter their results by media type to access the e-audiobook listings.
3M Cloud Library
Patrons can use the 3M Cloud Library app, now owned by Bibliotheca, to check out ebooks and e-audiobooks from a wide variety of major publishers by entering their state, library name, library bar code, and PIN on a signup form. Librarians can create their own shelves of content (and top lists of titles are automatically populated) for patrons to search by category or filter by genre. Once checked out, titles sync across devices. 3M helps the library through every step of the onboarding process by assigning a project manager and training the staff members via live webinar sessions and pre-recorded videos, among other options. The company also helps with marketing by providing launch kits, best practice suggestions, and other assistance.