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Free Audiobooks: Download these Audiobooks to your Computer

written by: Ann Gordon•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 7/10/2008

With so little time to sit and read these days, audiobooks have become quite popular. You can listen to them on your computer or on a portable music player. Now a large selection of audiobooks are available for you to download to your computer, for free from NetLibrary.

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    Introduction to NetLibrary

    NetLibrary is a portal to the digital works collection available through your affiliated library. This electronic collection (called eContent) is in addition to the books, audiobooks and journals on library shelves. eContent includes eBooks, eAudiobooks and eJournals and access to them is free when you join NetLibrary.

    NetLibrary membership costs nothing - there are no fees to join, no fees for remote access, no fees to search or sample audiobooks, no fees to download files to your computer, and no late fees. To take advantage of this great audiobook service, just sign up.

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    How to Download Free Audiobooks

    First, go to your affiliated (i.e. local) library, find a library computer, open a browser and go to http://www.netlibrary.org, and then sign up for a NetLibrary account.


    1. After that, you can use your login to browse the NetLibrary online catalog and download audiobooks 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, from any computer with Internet access. 
    2. Browse or search available audiobooks by subject, publication date, author, duration or language. What your affiliated library has purchased determines the audiobooks available to you.
    3. You can listen to a sample of the audiobook before downloading the complete file.
    4. Select whether you want CD quality or radio quality. For CD quality, the typical file size is around 120 to 140 MB. For radio quality, the file size varies from 16 to 20 MB. Naturally the larger file size offers better sound quality.
    5. Download the target audiobook (which is a WMA file) to a computer running Windows XP or Vista. These files will not play on the Mac OS. More about this below.
    6. When you open the file the first time, this activates the Check Out feature.

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    How to Check Out an Audiobook

    You need to check out the audiobook from the library, usually for a period of 21 days. You may be able to renew the audiobook for a longer time, but on the due date, the audiobook will expire and just stop working. Note: You need to check out the audiobook while it is still on your computer before you load it on a player.

    After you check out the audiobook, you can listen to it on your computer or on a portable music player – or both.

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    Listen to the Audiobook on your Computer

    To  play the NetLibrary audiobook on your computer, use one of these media players:
       * Windows Media Player v9 or higher
       * Yahoo Musicmatch Jukebox v8.2 or higher
       * Nullsoft Winamp v5 or higher

    Macintosh OS incompatibility: NetLibrary audiobooks are incompatible with the Macintosh OS because NetLibrary uses Windows Media Rights Manager v2.x to create their audiobook licenses. These licenses not only protect the audiobook content, they also allow the audiobooks to expire on the due date. The latest version of Windows Media Player for Macintosh is based on Media Rights Manager v1.3, which does not offer the security required by audiobook publishers and libraries.

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    Transfer the Audiobook to a Portable Music Player

    These audiobooks are not divided into parts; therefore, a single file contains the complete audiobook. This means you need a player that supports Time Display and Long Play requirements. It is helpful if the player also supports bookmarking. The player must be able to play secure or protected Janus-Compliant WMA files. It must also be compatible with Windows Media Player v10 or higher, which is used for transferring or synchronizing files to the player.

    NetLibrary has tested the following players and recommends them:
        * Archos Gmini 402 Camcorder and Archos 104
        * Creative Zen, Zen V, Zen V Plus, Zen Vision W and Vision M
        * Samsung YP T7JZ, Z5, S5 and K3
        * Toshiba Gigabeat S30

    In addition to the list above, my 2GB Creative MuVo V100, which is about 3 years old, works just fine with these files.

    Note: As you browse the audiobook titles on NetLibrary, most pages sport a link to the Tested Players PDF file. You can also access this webpage here: http://support.oclc.org/Resolutions/TestedPlayers.pdf.

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    Portable Players that Do Not Work with these Audiobooks

    Two players are specifically mentioned on the NetLibrary website as being incompatible with these audiobooks: iPod and Zune. 

    Apple iPod:  iPod players use the .aac file format, which does not support Digital Rights Management protection.
    Microsoft Zune: Zune players do not support the feature that requires these audiobooks to expire on a due date.

    I do hope you give NetLibrary a try. The service offers some great audiobooks, which are read by top-notch narrators.
    Happy listening!