In this blog post, I’m going to talk about my alternate to radio whilst commuting strategies, and how the library now loans audio books.
It’s quite a big week for me. I’m back from finishing my last Monday, with my current employer. My routine of getting up, cup of tea, taking the dog for a walk probably won’t change, but the 45 minutes normally set aside for driving to work that follows, will. My morning routine will no longer involve a standard ‘auto pilot’ drive into the office – instead, it’ll be a 10 minute walk. Whilst this is brilliant, I will in some ways miss the commute, as it gave me a time to listen to stuff.
Over the past few years, my commute has been accompanied by one of several things; radio, internet radio, podcasts, spotify or audio books. I also tried to save up my telephone calls for the car (hands free of course) and occasionally, I did like the occasional silence, when I needed deep thought time. Standard radio became less and less prevalent (unless the cricket was on). I’d found it was getting dull. The ‘same old same’ most of the time – if not the music, the features and format. The advantage of over the air radio being though, that no forethought is required, but with a little bit of planning, I’ve enriched my car to be a place of learning, of stories, of new information, new music and an entertainment that I’d utterly personalised. A place very far removed from the often homogenised radio outputs on offer. Life is to short to drink bad wine, goes the old adage, and to me, life it too short to read the same book twice or listen to the same stuff twice. (OK, so I’m not quite that strict with my audio policy, but I do like hearing new stuff as much as possible.)
The problem with my morning quest (and my often headphone based daytime) was that always having new stuff to listen to, took effort to ensure that the new stuff I was listening to, was not guff stuff. In a lot of cases, you don’t know it it’s going to be guff until you’ve listened to it for a while, and even then, you’re not sure. The solution (which is not always infallible) is to take recommendation from trusted sources, or listen to something that’s very long (such as Ken Follet’s epic 41 hour audio book Pillars Of The Earth) or a weekly podcast that you know is fairly reliably good (such as This Week In Tech) – which is achieved by trial and error (there are a load of guff podcasts out there). Most smart phones these days support podcasts – with scores of apps on offer (I use BeyondPod at the moment) – and have apps for things like audible.com, but the hidden gem of an app is Overdrive Media Console.
You can borrow audio books from the library for free.
The idea is brilliant. You borrow audio books – as well as ebooks from your library. The idea is that you browse and download audio books from a special section on library websites (legally) using the Overdrive Media Console. You use your standard library membership, listen to the book, then after a while, tit vanishes from your device. They are digitally borrowed rather than owned.
I’m a member of both North Yorkshire and Lancashire libraries and whilst I don’t use their treeware lending service as much these days, I’m a big fan of their audio lending service via Overdrive. It’s quite odd the way it works. You have to borrow a book and return it, just like you do with a regular book (although in effect, it returns itself). The library has a limited stock – just like the paper based counterpart. You can order a book and wait for another lender to return it. If you’ve not tried this service before, I can heartily recommend it – especially if you’ve got a long journey planned.
Here’s a thought to leave you with…
Libraries, as well as the rest of the physically printed worlds are shrinking, and/or are reinventing themselves as digital offerings. Why is it then, that Jeff Bazos, Amazon.com’s main man has just spent a quarter of a billion dollars on buying up the Washington Post? What does a guy like that know that we don’t about the future of print? I wonder what he’s up to with that.