Audio book: how it works

How an audiobook works

Before officially introducing you to the world of audiobooks, it seems only right to explain to you what the latter are and, in general, how they are used. To begin with, an audiobook is one Audio Recording of a book read aloud, usually by an actor, professional storyteller, or volunteer reader.

At present, audiobooks can be obtained both through thematic listening platforms (eg. Audible) and in the form of audio files (eg. in MP3 format), available on the Internet. These contents can also be protected by DRM license (therefore covered by copyright and downloadable upon payment of a one-off or subscription fee), or freely.

Generally, DRM-protected audiobooks are available for single purchase, or for use through a weekly, monthly or annual subscription, through specific apps and dedicated platforms; free audiobooks, on the other hand, are mostly popular as multimedia files (generally in MP3 format) and therefore can be copied and played freely with any device and application dedicated to the purpose.

Finally, you need to know that audiobooks can be played on most commonly used devices: su computer, via websites or multimedia playback programs; up smartphones and tablets, through apps associated with audiobook services or audio file players (for audiobooks distributed as MP3 files); su Bluetooth speakers and car speakers, by pairing it with a smartphone or tablet; and, finally, also on some models of ebook reader Kindle.

How to download an audiobook

Now that you understand the dynamics behind how audio books work, it's time to understand, in practice, how to get them. Consequently, below, I am going to show you a series of SkillsInternet site used for the use of DRM-protected audiobooks and the download of free audiobooks in MP3 / OGG format.

Services for downloading audiobooks

Among the services used to enjoy copyrighted audiobooks are first and foremost AudibleStorytel: now I'll talk about it in detail.


Audible is the Amazon platform dedicated to audiobooks. At the moment, it boasts a library of over 10.000 titles (of which 2.000 in in your languagen) that are “narrated” entirely by professional actors and storytellers.

Audible is an all-you-can-ear paid service, which costs 9,99 € / month, allows you to listen unlimitedly to all the titles belonging to its archive. Furthermore, it provides a free trial period of 30 days, during which it is possible to use the service without any limit.

How do you say? The service has already intrigued you and you would therefore like to understand better how Amazon's audiobooks work? In this case, you will be interested to know that the titles of the Audible library can be listened to directly from the portal website, through the dedicated apps for Android and iOS and on some models of Kindle e-readers (I will tell you about this possibility in one of the later chapters of this guide).

If you are interested in trying the service, install the Audible app from the store of your interest on your device, tap the button to log in with your Account Amazon and log in using the credentials of the latter. If you don't have an Amazon profile, you can create it by following the steps I showed you in this tutorial.

Once logged in, choose one of the payment methods configured in the Amazon account entered previously and, to activate the subscription to the service (I remind you that the first 30 days of use are free), touch the button Get started now.

Using the Audible app is really simple: its main screen allows you to view the hottest titles of the moment, of which you can listen to a preview, by tapping the ► button corresponding to the selected audiobook.

To search for a specific work, you can use the button in the shape of magnifying glass; if, on the other hand, you are interested in accessing the categories of the Audible catalog, you can use the section Store> Explore, which can be recalled by touching the ☰ button on Android, or the homonymous tab on iOS.

Once you have identified the book of your interest, tap on his cover e tocca il pulsating Add to library, to add it to your personal library (which you can access via the library, available after pressing the ☰ button on Android, or by tapping the button of the same name on iOS).

The use of Audible for PC is not very different from what we have seen so far: after connecting to the website of the portal, press the button Sign up or log in with your Amazon account and, after logging in, indicate the payment method to use for the renewal.

Again, the main page of the service will show you the most popular titles of the moment: to start playing an audiobook, click on the button Ascolta now located at the same. To carry out a targeted search, however, you can use the specific one search bar located at the top right; the categories are then found in a dedicated panel, accessible by moving the mouse over the item Explore (up).


Storytel is another excellent _all-you-can-ear_ platform dedicated to audio books: in it, it is possible to find titles belonging to the most disparate genres, both in in your languagen and in English. The service, at the time of writing, costs 9,99 € / month but it can be tried for free for 14 days, without obligation of renewal.

Audiobooks available on Storytel can be listened to both on PC (via the service's website or application for Windows 10), and via apps for Android and iOS, even in offline mode.

To try Storytel, install the dedicated app on your device, launch it and tap the button Register and start your free trial. Afterwards, it indicates a email address valid, specify a Password to be used to access the service and, when ready, tap the button Start your free trial.

If you deem it appropriate, you can speed up the registration phase by touching the button related to Facebook and logging in using the credentials associated with the famous social network.

After this step, indicate yours Country of residence, touch the button Done / Confirm, accept the condizioni d'uso of the service by pressing the appropriate button and, when ready, indicates whether or not to accept the receiving promotional messages, by responding to the message window displayed on the screen.

When it was finite, fai tap sul pulsating Take me to the books! and access the email box previously specified, to go to the second step of registration: open, therefore, the message received from Storytel, tap the button Start your free trial and, when prompted, enter your details paper (you will not be charged anything until the end of the promotional period).

Finally, check the box I accept the Unlimited Additional Terms e fai tap sul pulsating Activate subscription, to finalize the registration.

If you want to use Storytel from a PC, connected to this website instead, click on the button Try Storytel and follow the same steps seen above to complete the registration for the service (the confirmation of the payment method will take place, this time, in a "direct" way and without having to access the verification email).

Sites to download free audiobooks

If you do not think it appropriate to take advantage of a subscription listening platform, you will be pleased to know that there are numerous sites to download and / or listen to audiobooks for free, which can then be played on any device with support for the chosen audio format. Among the best services in this category, I recommend you to get to know them more closely, read on.


LiberLiber is one of the best-equipped in your languagen platforms dedicated to free audiobooks of its kind. Contains numerous books narrated aloud and downloadable in MP3 or in OGG.

To use it, connected to the appropriate section of the portal, choose the author's name you prefer and search for the audiobook of your interest (identified by the word [audiobook] within the name) in the list of listed works. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can get the complete list of audiobooks available on the platform by going to this page.

Once you have identified the title of your interest, click on the links dedicated to the various chapters to start listening to it; if, on the other hand, you intend to download the files to play them later, right click / long tap on the link of your interest (in MP3 or OGG) and choose the item Save link as / Save target as from the panel that opens.

The files downloaded in this way can be played through any software with support for the chosen format.


Another great site full of free audiobooks is LibriVox: if you had never heard of it, it is a platform that contains a large number of books read by volunteers, even in in your languagen.

In order to take advantage of the titles made available, connected to this website and, using the numbers located below, scroll through the various pages of the portal, until you find the book of your interest.

Alternatively, you can browse the list of audiobooks present in the portal by authortitlegenerally or language, using the tabs located at the top of the website.

Once you have identified the book of your interest, click on the button Download placed under the name, to download the file MP3 directly on the device.

Another good site through which you can find audiobooks in in your languagen, of various genres, is unlike the portals seen so far, it contains a list of “told” works, which can be appreciated in the form of videos on YouTube.

Once the thematic page of the site has been opened, simply select the cover of the book to be automatically "led" to the relevant YouTube page. If you are interested in browsing the titles based on the genres available, place the mouse cursor on the city ​​flag (located at the top) and click on category say your interest.

If you are visiting the site from a smartphone or tablet, however, tap the ☰ button, then the city ​​flag and, finally, on the category of your interest.

Another system to keep in mind in order to receive free audiobooks directly on smartphone, tablet or PC, is to use the podcast, that is the sets of audio recordings, sometimes made starting from a radio program or a direct video, then made available for listening on a deferred basis.

Below, I point out some podcasts dedicated, specifically, to audiobooks, which you can use for free with all the software suitable for the purpose (iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and so on).

  • Podcast classics - a site full of classics of in your languagen and international literature, read aloud. You can find the list of podcasts available on this page.
  • - the section dedicated to audiobooks of the famous audio portal contains a wide selection of titles that can be listened to in the form of podcasts. Here is the complete list.
  • Aloud - it is a podcast derived from a famous broadcast of Radio Rai 3, in which some of the most famous novels of international literature are read.
  • Words of storiesAudio Tales for Children - two podcasts focusing on fairy tales and children's stories.

How to listen to an audiobook

At this point in the guide, you should have a clear idea of ​​the various services dedicated to audio books. Now, however, you would like to understand how to use this content on your devices, right? Then this is the chapter of the guide that is most suitable for you. In the following sections, I intend to show you how to listen to an audiobook on PC, smartphone and tablet, through the Amazon Echo speaker (and the Alexa assistant), on some Kindle e-readers and, finally, in the car.

Listen to an audiobook on PC

Listen to audiobooks on the computer it is not difficult at all: after choosing the service of your interest (using, perhaps, the suggestions I gave you previously), use its website to access the available audiobooks, which will be played directly in the browser.

If, on the other hand, you had chosen to download the audio files, you can play them through the default multimedia player of your operating system (Groove Musica/Windows Media Player on Windows or iTunes on macOS), by double-clicking on the file in question.

If you don't like the "standard" media player in your computer, you can use alternative software designed for playing audio and movies, such as VLC, of which I told you in my tutorial dedicated to programs for listening to music.

Listen to an audiobook on Android and iPhone

If you have chosen to use a subscription service, you can listen to audiobooks on smartphone e tablet by downloading the app related to the portal of your choice: through the latter, you can navigate between the categories of the service you prefer and start playing the books, with a tap. I have already explained to you how to use the Audible and Storytel apps, the two main subscription services for listening to audiobooks, in one of the previous chapters of this guide.

If, on the other hand, you have chosen to take advantage of the sites dedicated to audiobooks in audio format (e.g. MP3 or OGG), you can listen to them using an offline multimedia player, such as VLC. For more information on this, I suggest you take a look at the section dedicated to music players of my guide on apps for listening to music.

Listen to an audiobook with Alexa

You have a line speaker Amazon Echo and would you like to use it to listen to your favorite audiobooks? You have two possible ways to go: if you already have an Audible subscription and have associated the Echo speaker with your smartphone and / or tablet, you can ask Alexa to start playing the book.

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Asking Alexa to play an audiobook is super easy - all you have to do is say the voice command "Alexa, read [audiobook title]" and wait for the reading of the book to start.

For your information, Alexa has support for additional voice commands, dedicated to the management of Audible titles: for example, you can get the list of books at your disposal by saying the phrase "Alexa, what are my audiobooks?"; you can skip to the next chapter of a book by issuing the command "Alexa, go to the next chapter". Finally, to stop reading after a given time interval, you can use the command "Alexa, stop reading in X minutes".

If, on the other hand, you use a service other than Audible, you can use the Amazon Echo like a common Bluetooth speaker and use the device associated with it to start playing the book; or, you can use the Alexa app for Android or iOS and install the skill control associated with the audiobook service / media player you usually use.

Listen to an audiobook on your Kindle

You need to know that almost all devices Kindle (except the Kindle Voyage7th generation Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite 5th, 6th and 7th generation) support playing and listening to audiobooks from the Audible service.

To be able to use it, you must configure the same Amazon account in your Kindle used for Audible and, once this operation is completed, add the audiobooks of your interest to your personal library, using the app or your PC: they will be available, after a few moments, also in the Kindle's personal library.

Alternatively, some Kindles (such as i Fire and Fire HD) are able to "read" "text" eBooks using the function From Testo to You (o Text-to-Speech). Keep in mind that this possibility is available only for some books in English and that the narrator, in this case, will not be very expressive.

To use Text-to-Speech reading mode, open a book on your Kindle, tap the central part screen to bring up the reading toolbar and press the button Aa, to access the settings panel.

Next, tap on the item Other options and move the lever Text to speech su Access. Now, tap the screen again and, to hear the read text, press the button Play located in the reading toolbar.

Regardless of the listening mode you choose to use, you must have previously connected external speakers, or a pair of headphones, to the Kindle.

Listen to an audiobook in the car

Would you like to relax listening to a good book while driving your car? Know that, in most cases, you can do it in a very simple way: in practice, all you have to do is configure the service you prefer (or download the MP3 files related to your favorite books) on your smartphone or tablet. , and associate the latter to the stereo system of thecars.

For example, if the car's on-board computer has a system Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you must pair the smartphone or tablet to the car, following the configuration procedure provided by the system in use, and then start playing the audiobook through its app, or from the MP3 player installed on the device.

Some apps also allow you to start playing content directly from the car's on-board computer, without touching the device screen. If you want more information on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, you can find useful my thematic guides dedicated to the subject.

If the car in your possession is not equipped with a "Smart" system, you can still pair your smartphone or tablet to its stereo system, using a slightly more classic system, which could be the Bluetooth, for an AUX cable or  cassette adapter. If you are interested in making use of these solutions, I recommend that you take a look at my guide on how to connect the phone to the car.

Once the connection is established, you simply have to start playing the book you want to listen to, from your smartphone or tablet, and then play it directly from the car speakers.

Whichever solution you choose, be sure to start playing audio titles only when you are still: a little distraction while driving could have serious consequences!

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