Most of us remember the days before the Internet, when we had to go to the store to buy anything, or wait for a catalog to arrive at our homes before we could place an order and wait even longer for our goodies to arrive. Audiobooks were just the same, and like everything else, getting your hands on them altered when the Internet came along. With the onslaught of technology, the inevitable question arises: Is it better to rent or buy through online audiobook services, or just take them out of your local library?

Online audiobooks are doubtlessly more efficient than books you have to go out and get at the library. They are chosen directly from your computer or mobile device, and then they can be either downloaded or directly delivered to you. Many sites also have no return dates or late fees, unlike most libraries within the United States.

Among the audience for online audiobooks are people with difficulties seeing or reading. Audiobooks, particularly from an online service, can be fast and efficient, especially if the books can be downloaded onto mobile devices, as is the case with many sites on our lineup.

Any professional who has to travel extensively can relate to having little time for going to the library, or keeping track of due dates. Signing up with an audiobook service gives you the ability to relax and listen to a book while you are flying across the country, or working out in the gym before heading to work. Rather than relying on the library for everything or sticking solely to hard-copy books, you can download them onto your iPod or iPhone and have them at the tip of a finger no matter where you happen to spend your day.

Audiobook services can also help keep you up to date on what new literature is gaining popularity. Sites like Audible have recommendations for popular and critically acclaimed releases displayed right on their homepages, and if you pick the right book, it might turn into the next blockbuster movie you see with your kids.

Even though most audiobook services require members to pay a fee every month for using them, a few let you set the pace before you pay. iTunes does not have a direct rental service, but it does not require any membership fees, and you can download as many audiobooks as you want.

Libraries serve a lot of purposes for people who still have the time to go to them. But for busy professionals and people who are not keen on driving, online audiobooks are a great option.

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