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All About Audio Textbooks for College Work

written by: Beth Janicek•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/7/2011

Want to make better use of your time? Thanks to audio books, textbooks are now much more portable and allow studying while multitasking. Here’s your guide to finding the best audio textbooks and audio study guides for that next course, or just for the love of learning.

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    Among audio books, textbooks are one of the fastest growing segments, and for good reason. Paper copies of textbooks are incredibly expensive, often bulky to carry around, and can take weeks to arrive in the mail. Audio textbooks, in contrast, can cost half the price of physical books, come in MP3 and CD format, and can be downloaded instantly.

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    Where To Find Downloadable Audio Textbooks

    Currently, there are very few places that specialize in textbook audio books in particular—and that may actually be a good thing. The best sources for audio textbooks are not textbook companies that have gone digital, but rather, audio book companies that have added textbooks. Their processes are well-established, their products are up-to-date with current technologies, and they’ve been around long enough to have prices that are competitive.

    One of the best sources (based on price, convenience, and availability of texts) is Audible.com; a pioneer in offering audio book downloads. Audible is now owned by Amazon.com, pairing Amazon’s expansive catalog with Audible’s mastery of the audio book. Audible’s selection is diverse and their files are compatible with over 500 different listening devices (including Audible for Blackberry), making this a simple one-stop shop for students.

    If you prefer not to download but would prefer to by audio book textbooks in CD format, you can search for “textbooks” in Amazon’s “audio books” category for CD-based textbooks. There is also an Audiobooks app for the iPhone that searches audio books from books in the public domain.

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    What About Audio Study Guides?

    Equally, if not more, prevalent are audio book study guides that accompany traditional textbooks. For students who prefer having a physical copy of the textbook but still want to take advantage of their travel time with audio learning, audio study guides are helpful supplements that add extra perspective and understanding to the coursework. Audio study guides, audio test preparation, and audio summaries can all be downloaded.

    There are several sources that provide such guides. The most popular are:

    • VangoNotes is a partnership between Audible and Pearson Education, one of the leading educational publishers globally. Study guides are organized by course category for easy browsing, with twenty categories, many of which are then broken down into various subcategories sub-categories. Each guide can be purchased in its entirety or in individual chapters. (Typical pricing is $19.95 for the entire guide or $2.99 per chapter.)
    • SparkNotes is known for producing study guides for many topics, but literature especially. SparkNotes’ audio study guides can also be downloaded on Audible. (Are you noticing a theme here? This isn’t an Audible advertisement; they just provide a lot more downloadable audio textbooks than anyone else.)
    • CengageBrain.com, which also sells downloadable digital textbooks, has a line of eAudio study tools that covers language, music and government.
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    Audio books For Independent Learning

    Even if you’re not in college, you can enjoy textbooks in audio format to help expand your knowledge and expertise. Whether it’s language learning audio books, textbooks on history, or explanations of economics and marketing, just about anything you want to learn about can be learned in those spare moments when you’re walking or driving to work.

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    References

    Audible’s “College Students” category can be found at http://www.audible.com/adbl/site/enSearch/searchResults.jsp?N=397&fromPage=Category&BV_UseBVCookie=Yes

    VangoNotes can be found at http://vangonotes.com

    SparkNotes audio test guides are found at http://www.audible.com/sparknotes

    CengageBrain’s study guides are found by clicking the “Audio” icon at the CengageBrain homepage: http://www.cengagebrain.com