ETA: As of Summer 2016, the Onleihe renegotiated its digital rights, and audiobooks can now only be accessed as streaming content. If you have an unlimited data plan, the Onleihe is still a great resource, but if you have to watch your data–it may no longer be the right solution for you.

If you’re working on learning German, you have to sign up for the NYC branch of the Goethe-Institut’s Onleihe.

An online library with a collection of more than 6,500 ebooks, 1,700 audiobooks, and 180 videos, NYC’s Onleihe is the only U.S. branch of a service used by many (or all? Someone who know mores about German libraries will have to let me know) of the libraries in Germany. With the Onleihe service, you can keep yourself in books and audiobooks for a year at a miniscule fraction of the cost of an Audible.de subscription or German-language books (ebook or hardcopy) bought through Amazon.com.

One audiobook on Audible.de, using their subscription service? About 11 USD. One ebook though Amazon? Eh, those range more, but I’d say at least 4-10 USD.

As many audiobooks and ebooks as you want, for a year, from the Onleihe? 10 USD.

It’s seriously amazing, and has saved me from a) going into debt trying to make my 1.5-hour-each-way commute livable and b) losing whatever ear I might have developed for German after I could no longer travel to Germany regularly.

And by signing up for the Onleihe, you’re supporting the Goethe-Institut, Germany’s cultural outreach organization, which provides German cultural events and German-language courses in cities throughout the U.S. (and elsewhere, of course).

The one thing I wouldn’t recommend is their app. It’s extremely clunky, and only lets you listen to audiobooks streaming, which makes it almost useless for listening to while commuting, unless you don’t mind your data getting scarfed down. I last checked the app out in January 2016, though, so if you’re reading this significantly after that, you may want to check it out to see if it’s improved.

But, yeah. Sign up for this. It is beyond worth it. You’ll need to make an account with the Goethe-Institut, and paying for your subscription isn’t streamlined (you have to email in an application form and pay using Paypal), but you only have to go through the trouble once a year.

I love the Onleihe!

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