How to Listen to The Great Courses

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Well, gardening season is here.

And that means one thing: I need lots of listening material.

I’ve mentioned it (quite a few) times: One of my favorite activities is to listen to lectures, podcasts, and audiobooks while I garden. My favorite source: The Teaching Company’s Great Courses series. (Caveat below.)

I spent awhile reviewing the various options for acquiring these splendid lectures. I believe there are four (besides just buying each lecture independently at enormous cost):

1. Subscribe to Audible through Amazon. $15 per month. You get a free book once a month, plus offers. It appears the entire Great Courses catalogue is available.

2. Subscribe to Audible independently with its Audible Plus Plan. For $8 monthly, you get access to its “Plus” catalog, which is a misnomer. It means, “Our 500,000 audio selections, minus 489,000.” Only 11,000 titles. There are very few Great Courses books, but there were dozens of audible books that greatly interest me (including a big selection of C.S. Lewis and Thomas Sowell). With this plan you can listen to any of them at no additional charge.

3. Use the Audible Plus Premium Plan. $15 per month. It appears to be the same as Audible Plus, but you also get one book a month that you can keep. You can also exchange the book for a different one if you don’t like it, though they reserve the right to revoke this privilege if they perceive that you’re abusing it. This is the Plan I chose because the literature (two different sources) said (maybe only implied?) you could listen to any book in the entire Audible library, but that’s not accurate. You just get the same 11,000 options offered in the ordinary Plus plan.

4. Subscribe to The Great Courses Plus. For $15 per month (if you pay by the quarter), you get access to all the lectures, but you don’t get to keep any of them once you cancel the plan.

I’m going to hng with the Audible Plus Premium Plan for the month of March and focus on audio books, then I might shift to The Great Courses Plus for the lectures.


Caveat about The Great Courses

The man who started the Great Courses did a great job. The produce was top-notch. About ten years ago, he cashed out and sold the company to a big corporation. The big corporation is still producing very good lectures and they appear to adhere to the founder’s original vision of presenting, as much as possible, unbiased lectures without a political agenda (hard to do these days).

However, it has started to produce “cheaper” lectures. They’re less expensive and they’re lower quality. The one I bought was awful, and I think that, if I had stuck with it, it would’ve veered into Leftist waters (thereby losing one of the main charms of The Teaching Company . . . being as unbiased as possible). I think it cost me $4.95 or something like that, so I’m not angry about it, but I would stay away from its lesser offerings.