It might come as a surprise to you that the concept of the audio book rental first became fashionable way back in the 1970’s. At that time, audio books began to proliferate as mass distribution began to kick in. City and town libraries were the first establishments to offer audio books as a sideline to actually reading books!
Gradually, those people who had recordings of their favorite novels began to branch out and look for further recordings. New sites began to appear on the web where folks could subscribe and then download public domain recordings of novels and stories that were no longer in copyright. At first, these sites had a limited choice of recordings and didn’t provide modern fiction and non-fiction. It was inevitable, therefore, that people would look towards audio book rentals as a viable alternative.
The great thing about audio book rentals is that you can usually get an unlimited number of audio books, tapes, CDs, etc, to rent. Audio book clubs are not usually ‘unlimited.’ However, rates can vary quite a bit and so you should shop around, especially as different rental companies offer varying lengths of rental and ways of returning material. Also, you might be lucky and get an audio book rental free trial in which you can assess the system.
The whole process should be familiar as many people already use rental services for hiring out DVDs. As an example, some audio book rental companies focus on making audio books available at travel centers on major highways. Truckers and traveling salesmen use these services frequently to speed up those long, lonely hours on the road. Once your favorite novel has bought, you can listen to it and then return it to a convenient travel center further along your route. Great system!
You can see the benefit to the listener: not everybody has computer (or internet) access and so the usual audio book club system is worthless as you are unable to download the material. Audio book rentals also have a far wider collection of fiction and non-fiction, often available in a variety of formats.
Is there a downside? Well, I guess it depends on how much time you can put aside to listen to your audio book. With a downloaded audio book you can spend as much time as you want and listen at your leisure. If you rent, you may not get to the end of your book before it needs to be returned to the audio book rental club. Also, unlike downloads, you may find yourself competing with other readers (listeners!) for popular titles. As a result, you may have to be put on a waiting list until the copy becomes available. Remember, depending on the company, there might be limited stock available so this needs to be taken into consideration. However, usually this isn’t such a problem and audio book rentals usually take account of the needs of their customers. They will have conducted a great deal of market research and so can offer different options and services for all budgets.