Books are wonderful — they transport the reader to fantastical places on bold adventures all without leaving the comfort of your home (or subway car, or beach chair, or whatever).
But what if reading isn’t really your style? What if you love a book, but aren’t looking to put as much strain on your eyes? Or maybe you’re looking to listen to some content while your eyes are doing other work — like driving, or jogging, or rustling up dinner.
For this, there’s Audible — an audiobook service run by Amazon. I decided to sign up for the 30-day trial to see/hear how well I liked it.
My verdict? Read on to find out!
What is Audible?
Audible is a platform that hosts audio-based entertainment.
What does that mean?
It means: audiobooks, audio dramas, audio magazines, podcasts, all sorts of great audio content.
Some of this content is homegrown by Audible itself (they have an impressive production wing), while others are produced by 3rd parties and sold by Audible.
Heck, I actually wrote the script for an audiobook many years ago that’s now on Audible (and no I won’t tell you what it is — this is a review, not a sales pitch).
Want to listen to the latest Dan Brown novel on audiobook? Audible’s got you covered.
Looking to discover the next, up-and-coming murder mystery story? Audible has tons of originals available for you to check out!
How does Audible work?
Audible is easy. You first need to sign up for an account (which, since it’s Amazon, doubles as your Amazon account if you have one).
From there, you have to decide whether you’ll sign up for a membership (I’ll get into greater detail later, but the gist is that memberships grant you discounted rates on audiobooks).
After that, it’s as simple as purchasing your audiobooks, downloading them, and then playing them on your app of choice.
There are dedicated apps for your phone or tablet; on your computer you’ll need to either stream the audio from the browser or from another app such as Books (for mac).
Your books are stored in your library. You can access your library from the audible website or the dedicated audible apps. From the library, you can then download your purchased books to any of your devices.
- Make account
- Purchase book
- Download from library
How much does Audible cost?
It’s completely free to sign up for an Audible account.
Signing up for an account allows you to purchase audiobooks at full price.
As an example, The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown costs $39.93
The hardback version, by contrast, runs just over $20 on Amazon.com
So you’re paying about double for an audiobook. Considering that you’re paying for both the story and the audio production, that seems like a pretty good deal.
BUT! What if I told you there was a better idea?
Remember when I said you could sign up for a membership? Well, memberships allow you to purchase audiobooks at a flat 1-credit rate.
There are two types of memberships: Gold and Platinum.
- Costs $14.95 per month or $149.50 annually
- Annual membership gets you 12 months for the cost of 10
- You get one credit per month for monthly or 12 credits per year for annually
- $22.95 per month or $229.50 annually.
- Again, save two months’ cost on annual membership
- Get two credits per month or 24 per year depending upon plan
When your credits dip low, you have the option of purchasing three additional credits outside of the cost of your membership. These run around $35 total.
Again, each book on audible costs a flat rate of 1 credit, which is less than $12 for a platinum membership. For a book like The Lost Symbol, that’s 1/3rd the price a nonmember would pay.
So, if you’re looking to purchase multiple books, choosing a membership is a great way to save money.
That’s great, I hear you saying.
But what if I want to save even more money?
How can you save money on Audible?
First, there’s a 30-day free trial where you get one book free. Free audiobook!
For Amazon Prime members, this jumps to 2 free audiobooks.
When you combine this with one of the annual plans, this gets you (in effect) three free months.
But can you save more?
For a limited time, you can save 46% on membership costs for your first 4 months for a Gold plan, meaning you pay $7.95 a month!
These two offers are not stackable, but you will save more if you choose the second option as opposed to the first.
The 30-day free nets you $14.95, whereas the 46% off 4 months gets you a full $28.00
That’s an additional $13.05 (gee I hope I did this math right).
Who is Audible for?
Audible sums it up nicely: “when you can’t read, listen.”
Audible is great for people who love books, but aren’t able to devote the visual energy to engaging with the content by reading.
Basically, you don’t have the time to read. But you do have the time to listen.
For those on the go, such as:
- Frequent Flyers
- Long Distance Drivers
Then Audible is a great solution.
Love to read, but aren’t able to read on the job? (I can’t tell you how many times I got dinged for reading on the job), try Audible!
But Audible isn’t just for when you can’t read. What if you prefer not to read? Perhaps you find that your concentration fades when reading, or that you can’t find the undisturbed time to pick up that book.
Audible is a great alternative. The content only pauses when you pause it, meaning that the rate of information is not contingent upon your concentration (granted, your rate of absorption of information may be).
Point being: you don’t have to have undisturbed concentration to listen to your audiobook.
Lastly, Audible is great for those who may have trouble reading such as:
- Folks with weak eyesight or blindness
- People who suffer from reading disorders
Audible allows folks who otherwise may struggle with reading to enjoy all of the great literary masterpieces (and great literary non-masterpieces — I don’t pass judgement!).
Who may not like Audible?
Like everything I review, Audible isn’t ideal for everyone.
While I think that Audible is a great platform, I suppose that it might not be great for a few types of people, mainly:
- Book purists
- You know the ones — the ones that think an ebook is a bridge too far. If you need a physical book in your hands, Audible might not be for you.
- People who prefer reading to listening
- I find that I can internalize material more easily while reading than listening. I like Audible, but I can see why others may want to stick to visual books only.
- People who are hard-of-hearing
- Those looking to save some money
- Ebooks and physical books are cheaper than audiobooks.
For the most part, I think that there are very few instances that would make Audible a real turn-off for most people. On the whole, I think it’s a pretty impressive platform that has a lot to offer.
5 reasons I love Audible
So what are those things that Audible has to offer? Let me break down 5 things in particular that I found impressive.
1) Audible Originals
Audible doesn’t just have Bestsellers and Classics (though it does have those, don’t worry).
It also has a huge selection of original stories, journalism, and theatre voices that are produced in-house by Audible, allowing you to access an overwhelmingly large library of new content. It’s like the Netflix Originals section on Netflix.
They have neat podcasts like “The History of Rum,” as well as high-quality scripted content, and original works created and voiced by celebrities like Kevin Hart.
2) Audible Sleep
This is now free for all members! Audible sleep is a curated collection of stories, guided meditation exercises, soundscapes, soundbaths, an ASMR designed to help you get a good night’s rest.
In today’s stressed world, this is a Godsend. There are so many other platforms that charge an arm and a leg for this type of content. This is a great deal.
3) Audible Theatre
It’s the new radio drama! These are scripted stories that are presented not as narrated stories, but as actual theatrical performances.
It’s like War of the Worlds, but for the 21st century.
Plus, Audible has a dedicated Emerging Playwrights Fund which helps create new theatrical pieces for audio format.
This is a great fund to help keep theatre a vibrant part of our cultural landscape! Go Audible!
Ok, this is a really cool feature. If you have both the audiobook and the ebook version of a piece of work, whispersync will save your place and pick up wherever you left off whenever you switch between versions.
So let’s say I’m driving while listening to the Audiobook of Artemis Fowl.
I get home, turn off the car, and flip open my Amazon Kindle app, turn to Artemis Fowl, and BOOM! It’s right where I left off while listening to the audiobook.
You do have to own both versions of the text, but it’s such a fun feature that I had to bring it up!
5) Audible Escape
Audible escape is a slightly different membership than regular Audible. For $12.95 a month (or just $6.95 a month on top of an existing Audible membership) you get unlimited access to thousands of romantic and feel-good stories.
- You can borrow up to 10 stories at a time
- You can easily swap books out
- Your first month is free
So if you’re in the mood for binging literally dozens of romance novels while you’re feeling the Quarantine blues, Audible Escape might just be the right mental escape for you!
What if I don’t like my book?
Sometimes a book is a total doozy. Luckily, Audible is pretty forgiving. If you’re unhappy with a book you’ve received, you may return or exchange it within 365 days of purchase.
Audible does reserve the right to refuse this generous benefit if they feel you’ve been abusing it. So don’t go around just returning books because you’re done with them.
That’s what a library is for!
Can I cancel Audible?
You can cancel your audible membership at any time.
For the books you’ve purchased, they remain yours forever. You can still access them through the Audible app or the website.
For any books on Audible Escape, they’ll remain available until the end of your billing period, and then they’ll escape from your account!
Can I get involved?
Sounds amazing, you’re saying.
How can I get involved?
There’s a place for that! Audible is always looking for new, home-grown content. They have a dedicated way to pitch original content to Audible.
Simply submit your pitch for an original audio-centric idea, and Audible will review your submission. If you’re selected, Audible will negotiate a development deal with you, helping bring your dreams to fruition.
If you’re a creative who has a passion for audio, this could be your chance! Pitch your story to Audible and become the next Serial, or War of the Worlds, or Hamlet!
What are the alternatives?
As Audible is a book publishing platform, there are tons of alternatives.
- Physical Books
- You can get them online, at bookstores, and libraries.
- They’re portable.
- They don’t require accounts, devices, or even electricity.
- They take up a fair amount of shelf space
- Available on Kindle among many other marketplaces
- Cheaper than audiobooks, just as portable, and they take up less memory
- Smaller selection of audiobooks than Audible, but they’re included in your Spotify membership
- Apple Books
- Focus is on selling books rather than subscriptions; prices are cheaper typically than Audible
- Technology isn’t as well reviewed as Audible; many have complained about Apple Books losing their place in the text
- Never knock the good-ol-library, doing a public service since practically forever.
- Free books, often including books on tape, and in some instances ebooks and audiobook downloads.
- Often less robust than platforms like Audible, but free is free.
There are a lot of things about Audible that I really liked. It’d take me a whole other article to spell them all out, but I’ll do my best to hit the brightest spots.
- Standard price for members
- Each book being one credit is a great, simple system.
- Just tons upon tons of content
- There’s no way you’d ever get through all the content that Audible provides. From originals to theatre to podcasts to bestsellers, it has more content than you can handle in a lifetime.
- Excellent connectivity with Whispersync
- Allows you to save your place when swapping to Kindle
- Audible Sleep
- This free benefit for members would cost hundreds at competing sites. Take advantage of their guided meditation to get the best sleep of your life.
- Audible Theatre
- Scripted, theatrical experiences that take you deeper into the plot + characters than you could have ever imagined.
- Great sales
- Either enjoy 30 days free or 46% off your first four months of gold membership! This is an excellent deal!
There weren’t that many cons for audible, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t list a few things that could be improved.
- Price for non-members
- These audiobooks are significantly more expensive (more so than competing audiobook services).
- This is clearly to drive subscription rates. If you’re consuming multiple books a month, a subscription makes sense.
- Difficult to navigate sign up.
- I kept trying to find out how to sign up for a specific plan (Platinum annual), but I just kept getting redirected to sign up for Gold Monthly.
- I was also unsure if the sales rates applied to platinum plans. My gut says no, but it would be nice to have some more specificity around this.
- No app for personal computers
- You have to rely on the web browser itself or 3rd party apps such as Books.
Conclusion: Is Audible worth it?
Without a doubt, Audible is worth it.
Audible is an excellent audiobook platform. It allows you to download books and other high-quality audio content at a fixed rate using a simple subscription model. It’s integration with Kindle is also another high point, allowing you to swap between two versions of the text seamlessly with Whispersync.
I’m very impressed with Audible’s expansion into theatre, sleep, podcasts, and other forms of scripted/non-scripted audio entertainment. It really seems like Audible isn’t content to be a simple platform for audiobooks, but also a producer and distributor of a wide variety of audio entertainment.
For the consumer, this is great. You have more choices, more engaging content, and more to discover.
I highly recommend Audible for any person looking to discover the exciting world of audio entertainment.
Who knows? It could inspire you to pitch your own show to Audible one day too.