I am a fan of audio books. My experience with audio books started when I was looking for something to take the edge off of my commute to Toronto every day. I discovered this unique section at my local branch of the Oshawa Public Library, and back then they came on cassette tape. This made things convenient, as I could take the tape from my car and put it into my Walkman to continue listening to it. I even bought a few on cassette from the local book store at the mall. Later, this would turn into CD’s, on which I enjoyed Alan Alda’s “Never have your dog stuffed” and got through Moby Dick. Compact Discs were an inconvenient format, and when MP3 players came down in price, I would rip the library CD’s to low fidelity MP3’s that were perfect for what I needed. Then there was Audible.
The convenience that Audible offered cannot be understated. I felt their monthly subscription was a good value, and signed up. I realized early on that Audible files were a proprietary format, but they were supported with my favourite Sansa MP3 player, so that didn’t matter so much. When I moved on to an Android phone, I was a little frustrated that I had to install their app, which used up valuable space in my phone’s main storage. At this time, I could not install it to an external SD card. It was also frustrating when I wanted to share an audiobook with my family; my wife and son had to install the app as well, and I could only share with my wife. I couldn’t “Lend” an audiobook to my mother and father to enjoy. The breaking point was when I recognized that I could not play my Audible purchases in Linux. This concerned me as I wondered, what would become of my collection if Audible ever went out of business? Their app would eventually stop working with the latest operating systems, and that investment would be lost. Then there’s the fact that there is no good way for me to share my collection with my son or with future generations of grandchildren. I wouldn’t stand for this sort of thing with the music that I buy, so I see no reason that I should put up with these restrictions with audio books.
Enter OpenAudible. As usual, I am not the first to think of this problem, so what OpenAudible does is it takes the audio books I legally purchased from Audible and converts them into an MP3 format. This allows me to enjoy my audio books with whatever audio player I choose, Now, this program wasn’t as intuitive on my installation of Ubuntu 18.04 as I would have liked. Installing it did not create an icon in my launcher, nor was there any obvious way for me to start it. After doing some digging, I discovered that this app installs itself in /opt/OpenAudible. I opened a terminal, typed in “cd /opt/OpenAudible” and then typed in OpenAudible to launch the program. After that, I followed the instructions on the OpenAudible web site and let it run all day to download and convert my collection.
Moving forward, I will cancel my subscription to Audible. However, I will continue to purchase books from Audible on a book-by-book basis, providing this application is still able to download and convert my Audible purchases for me. Should Audible see fit to permit the download of purchases in an open format, I may consider resuming a subscription. Meanwhile, I’ve rediscovered a great resource that I had been using years ago; that resource was LibreVox.
These are books that are in the public domain read by volunteers, and is a great way to get caught up on the classics. This is where I may divert some of the money I’ve been giving to Audible.