I have been enjoying listening to podcasts as well as the free books available from podiobooks.com for a couple of years now.
That's why I was quite intrigued to find Simply Audiobooks online. It works kind of the same way that Netflix does. You sign up for a very low monthly subscription and you can rental audio books that are shipped directly to your home.
Because Simply Audiobooks does not appear to be affiliated with one particular manufacturer they have a full and broad selection of audio books. I spent some time looking for books that I have always wanted to read but just didn't have the time for. Isn't that always the case with book lovers? You see at least half a dozen new books that you want to read every couple of days and yet you think about that giant pile of "books to read" that are sitting at home just waiting for you. With my mp3 player, I have at least been able to listen to some of the books I haven't had a chance to read yet while walking or driving to work.
Listening to the books has allowed me, on average, to expand my reading of novels and non-fiction books dramatically. Granted, when I had a daily 3.5 hour commute into work, I listened to quite a bit more of podcasts and books on CD -- but even in the short 10 minute drive to work and 10 minute walk from parking to my office, I'm able to get in a decent half an hour to 40 minutes worth of "audio reading" per day. Not bad at all.
While I'm not likely to use the "ship to me" feature on Simply Audiobooks, I am quite likely to check out their monthly download subscription service. For as low as $20 a month, you can download two audio books per month. That's quite a bit steeper, of course, than the free podiobooks.com (which is 100% free), but there is a much larger selection and it certainly is cheaper than buying the same products from a retail store.
I have also found that, over the past 10 years or so, the general quality of abridgment done to create an audio book has dramatically improved. (Books converted to audio format are often abridged - it's usually to keep the cost of the audio book down by shortening the running time - unabridged audio books tend to be as much as 10 CD's or more and can cost a lot more than the hardcover version of the book -- not a concern, of course, with a subscription service like Simply Audiobooks.) Good abridgment is done seamlessly -- so seamlessly that even if you've read the full length novel, you might have trouble figuring out what exactly was cut and from where. Good abridgment is like an excellent editing job.
I discovered Simply Audiobooks via my participation in frogpond, a BzzAgent community of folks who are invited to check out different websites and internet offerings, offer their opinion of them, and if they like what they see or the services they test out, they can invite their friends to check it out.