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The growing popularity of audiobooks is due in part to their portability, ease of access, and growing inventory of available titles, including best sellers, fiction, and nonfiction. If you already have a smartphone, listening to audiobooks on your smartphone is the most common method. For those who don’t have a smartphone, there are several viable alternatives you can use.
A smartphone is not the only way to access audiobooks. If you are wondering how to listen to audiobooks without a smartphone, some of the alternatives include desktop or laptop computers, tablets, and even MP3 players.
When exploring options for listening to an audiobook, it pays to have some knowledge of how audiobooks are accessed. If you are already technologically savvy enough to find your way around a smartphone, chances are that you have the skills and experience to play audiobooks on the nearest internet accessible device. Here are some things to consider when you are looking for smartphone alternatives in order to listen to an audiobook.
What device do you need to listen to an audiobook?
The device you choose for listening to an audiobook may depend in part on where you are. Some of the usual locations include at or near your desktop or laptop computer, while mobile or doing chores within your house, while walking, exercising or mobile outdoors, and while driving.
Location near your desktop or laptop computer
If you are at or near your desktop or laptop computer, you can use an audiobook player to play your favorite titles. You can listen to the books through your speakers, through headphones, or with earbuds. The decision of which to use will depend on whether you want to eliminate outside noises and distractions, whether you want to disturb others nearby who may not want the distraction, or whether you need to remain within close range of the computer.
Location within your house or near your mobile device
If you are mobile, such as getting some chores done within your house, you may be able to use one of the smart-home speaker devices such as Google Nest or Alexa. Some of these devices have internet connections and allow you to download and play audiobook titles. However, someone with smart home devices is likely to already have a smartphone.
Location outside while exercising or walking
If you are walking your dog, jogging, or exercising outdoors, use an mp3 player to play audiobooks. You can listen to your audiobook choice through earbuds or headphones. The audiobook won’t disturb others nearby and you won’t have problems hearing the nuances of the narration.
Location in your automobile
If you are driving, use an adapter to play your choice of audiobooks from an mp3 player through the car speakers. In an older vehicle, you can use an mp3 player with a wireless adapter (also known as an FM transmitter). It plugs into the mp3 player using a standard headphone jack. Alternatively, you can use an mp3 player with a cassette adapter, if the vehicle is equipped with a cassette player.
While using a more late-model vehicle, you can use a wired adapter (the most expensive option) to play audio from an mp3 player. These often come with a docking station to charge the player, and allow use of the steering wheel controls to operate the player device. For cheaper options, use a USB connection to connect the mp3 player to the USB input of the car stereo, or use a Bluetooth-compatible mp3 player to connect with a Bluetooth-compatible car stereo.
Use of auxiliary devices
In addition to choosing whether to play audiobooks using a computer vs an mp3 player, there are several auxiliary devices you may need to hear the audio. Here are several common types of listening accessories and some of the advantages and disadvantages for each.
Speakers are usually wired and intended to connect to a computer, but some are Bluetooth-compatible and can be networked through a home at a small distance from the source device. Speakers can range in cost and quality from very inexpensive to audiophile quality professional equipment.
If you are alone in a room or are not likely to disturb others nearby, then speakers may be a viable option for you. If you need to be aware of other ambient sounds, speakers are likely a better choice. Additionally, some people find headphones physically uncomfortable to wear.
Headphones, like speakers, come in wired and wireless varieties. Wireless options are likely to require regular recharging, under frequent usage. Types of headphones include on-ear, over-ear, and in-ear varieties, which can all come in closed-back or open-back style. Additionally, there are bone conduction headphones available, which rest behind or in front of the ear. Also, like speakers, they range from cheap, poor quality products to professional level devices.
If you work or spend time in a noisy environment, such as an office, a coffee shop, or a busy home, something with noise-canceling capability may benefit you. If sound quality is important to you, you may also prefer good quality headphones to similarly priced speakers.
You may be confused about why earbuds have their own section here. In fact, earbuds are not the same thing as in-ear headphones. Unlike in-ear headphones, which rest in the ear canal and can provide some muffling of background noise, earbuds rest on a ridge in your outer ear. Due to this placement, there is somewhat less risk of damaging your hearing with too-loud audio, though the best policy is always to maintain a safe volume.
Earbuds are small and relatively easy to break or lose, especially Bluetooth-enabled types. Fortunately, they can be relatively inexpensive to replace, unless you go with high-end and branded varieties. Some people may prefer earbuds for jogging or activities in public places, because they allow more peripheral awareness of sounds in the environment.
Alternatives to smartphones and personal preference
Whichever devices you choose for your audiobook enjoyment and whatever your listening circumstances are, there are multiple good options for every budget range and comfort level. You do not need to be limited by the lack of a smartphone.