An Introduction to Audiobooks

What is an Audiobook?

Audiobooks are voice recordings that enable you to listen to the text of a book. Some are exact versions of the book (unabridged), others are shortened (abridged). Audiobooks are available in various formats, but you are most likely to come across:

  • CD
  • Memory stick (also known as USB flash drive)
  • Digital download or streaming

The Formats Explained…

CD: this stands for ‘compact disc’. You can play them on a CD player or a computer that has a disc drive. Audiobook CDs are often compressed, so an entire book will fit onto one disc. This is MP3 format, so your CD player needs to play MP3 discs.

Memory stick: a data storage device. Smaller and faster than CDs, they can also carry more data (several books on one stick). You can play them through a desktop or laptop computer, some mobile devices, or a small USB player (available from OAB).

Sonic 2 USB player

Digital download: when you ‘download’ something, it is saved on your computer, tablet or smartphone, and you can access it whenever you want – the complete book is there before you start listening. Typically, the loan is for three weeks, and will then disappear from your device (but you can always borrow it again). A book can also be ‘streamed’ to your device. This means it comes via the internet as you listen – so you need an internet connection. Accessing a book digitally means you get it immediately (no waiting for the post to arrive!) and don’t need to return it once you’ve finished.

Where do I get Audiobooks?

There are a number of sources for borrowing talking books.
They include:


RNIB Library (@RNIBLibrary) | Twitter

RNIB provides books on CDs, USB sticks or by digital download. Either way, you can borrow up to six books at a time. To access RNIB’s digital downloads, you need to install the free OverDrive app on your device. The RNIB also provides popular magazines and specialist publications in audio format, as well as highlights of daily and weekend newspapers, For more information, visit RNIB Talking Books or phone the helpline on 0303 123 9999. RNIB’s talking books services are free.


Calibre Audio Library | LinkedIn

Calibre provides books on CD, USB memory stick or via streaming. Audio downloads are not available so you need a reliable internet connection if you choose a digital format. There is a single fee of £35 to join the library and no subsequent charges. You can download an application form from the website or phone 01296 43 23 39.

Oxfordshire Library Service

Libraries | Oxfordshire County Council

With a local library card, you can download audio books at no charge via a (free) app on your device. For more information, visit . You can borrow up to 10 titles for three weeks. You may need to re-join the library if you haven’t borrowed an item in the last year.

Buying audiobooks

You can also buy audiobooks to keep, either on CD from bookshops or online sellers, or as a download from sites such as Audible and iTunes.

Books on audio CD at the Campoli Resource Centre

We stock a selection of commercially available classical and popular literature CDs that have been donated to the Association over the years.  Please call

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