Amazon is the powerhouse of online retail – a quick search brings products and options to the forefront, and typically with a two-day shipping turnaround. Amazon also dabbles in other services, like video and music streaming options. One popular service is Audible, an online audio book library.
In typical Amazon fashion, Audible provides access to thousands of audiobooks. The access comes with a monthly subscription fee not included in an Amazon Prime membership. With so many options for different types of services, one must research before making a commitment and therefore raises the question: Is Audible worth it?
The too long, didn’t read version is yes, at least for the trial period. You can subscribe to an Audible free trial for 30 days with free downloads, so one option is to stop reading here and start listening now!
Wait, What Are Audiobooks?
Before diving into an Audible review, it would be useful to explain what an audiobook is and how Audible provides this service. Audiobooks are recording of texts being read, typically by a professional narrator or actor. Quality of narration varies based on the narrator. Typically, a professional narrator, or sometimes the author themselves, jump on and provide a quality experience.
Audible reviews by users highlight the delight of having an author read the book in the way they envisioned it or having a famous actor read a classic tale. Some narrators include Emma Thompson, Trevor Noah, and Carey Mulligan.
Audiobooks are good for driving commutes where the focus can’t be on a page-turner. Any activity that requires being hands-free, like hiking or cleaning, is easier with an audiobook. Readers, or in this case listeners, don’t have to remember a physical book or tablet and simply need a charged phone or other compatible device. Audiobooks are also great when productivity needs to include something other than finishing a great story.
The cons of audiobooks typically revolve around missing the feel of a physical book and turning pages. Simply put, books are for the eyes while audiobooks are for the ears. For those willing to try something new, audiobooks can be a pleasant alternative to the traditional reading experience.
So, More About Audible?
As mentioned, Audible is a monthly subscription service from Amazon. The monthly fee gives subscribers one or two credits, which are then exchanged for any audiobook in the 200,000+ title catalog. Every book is one credit, no matter how long, short, highly ranked, classic, or a bestseller.
What Is the Commitment?
At the time of writing, Audible’s monthly and annual rates include four plan options designed for different levels of reading activities:
- Gold Monthly - $14.95/month for 1 credit/month
- Platinum Monthly - $22.95/month for 2 credits/month
- Gold Annual - $149.50/year (so about $12.46/month for 1 credit/month)
- Platinum Annual - $229.50/year (so about $19.13/month for 2 credits/month)
Choosing a plan really depends on how many audiobooks one listens to each month. If you are hooked on the audiobook train, the upfront yearly membership can save about two months of fees in the long run. If a month ends up quite busy, credits roll over. This is nice because it means money won’t be wasted if a month is missed.
The subscription can be cancelled anytime, so if your finances or love for an audiobook change, Audible can adjust with that. At the very least, the cost of a month of Audible is akin to buying the physical book, and in some cases, it is less.
What Titles Can I Download?
As mentioned before, Audible’s library is huge, and every book costs one credit through the monthly subscription fee. From the top of the New York Time’s Bestseller List to the most classic of titles, Audible has a lot to offer. It is a great advantage to be able to access new and popular titles with just a few clicks. Audible also shows reviews, ratings, and curates suggestions. The wide range of titles means access to all genres and the capability of catering to many different interests.
One aspect worth mentioning are three options specific to the Audible experience: Reese’s Book Club, the Romance Package, and Audible Originals:
- Join the Club - Reese’s Book Club offers titles recommended by Reese Witherspoon. Reese selects a new title each month and subscribers tune in to hear it. Reeses’s Book Club is great for the indecisive listener who is willing to put trust in another person. If it ends up not working out, Audible has a great return policy, but more on that later.
- Revive the Romance – Yes, Audible has a Romance Package option focused on passionate, cozy, or tantalizing tales. At the same rate as the main Audible packages, subscribers can choose their level of romance and slip into some steamy tales. For more on this, listen to the teaser clips available on the Audible site.
- Originality Is Key- Similar to Amazon Prime Originals, Audible has Amazon-produced content that won’t be found elsewhere. Audible Originals are produced exclusively for Audible and won’t be available on other platforms. A new offer from Audible is the ability to choose two Originals each month at no additional cost out of six options. This presents the opportunity to find a new favorite story and have more audio options throughout the month.
What Happens When I’m Done Listening?
The nice thing about Audible is that once the credit is exchanged, the book is yours. Access doesn’t go away after the month or even in the event the subscription is cancelled. This is an advantage over other services that operate more like a library – taking back the access once you are done. Audible also doesn’t have a waitlist, and the audiobooks are delivered instantly and digitally once selected.
Anything Else to Know?
- Trial Period - Other pros include a free trial period. For thirty days, you can test out the service to see if it is worth the commitment. The free trial comes with two credits – so two books! There is no commitment after the period, so really there is no financial commitment until after deciding if Audible is suitable for your needs.
- Sales and Discounts - Audible also offers sales and deals pretty regularly that are only accessible to Audible members. If you have already used available credits and really need another title, membership brings 30% off the list price of audiobooks. With this in mind, it is possible to purchase audiobooks from Audible without the subscription. However, most titles come in around $30, making it more expensive than just paying for one month at least in exchange for access to the desired title.
- Love It or Return It - If the choice ends up not being what you expected, Audible does allow for exchanges. This feature shouldn’t be abused and if used incorrectly can result in membership revocation. It is designed to prevent being stuck with a bad title, but shouldn’t be used to attempt free books. If you purchase a book outside of the credits and don’t like it, you can refund it. Audible has a policy called the Great Listens Guarantee. Basically, if you don’t like a book, you can return it with 365 days of download.
- Offline Access – One of the pros of Audible includes access from phone or tablet without needing data or Wi-Fi. Once you download the title, the recording is available for listening!
- Language Choice – Audible is branching out beyond English and offering titles in other languages. At the time of writing, this includes titles in Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, and Chinese. Titles covered include translations and originals.
- Adjust Speed – If the narrator is a little slow or too fast, the speed can be adjusted. This is great if English is not your first language, and you need to slow it down to fully understand. Speeding up the recording can help with a slow narrator or to just move through the book more quickly.
- Sleep Timer – If listening to the book as a way to fall asleep, Audible allows for a sleep timer. This can be the end of a chapter or after a certain time. This keeps you from missing a great plot twist and saves your battery.
- WhisperSync – This new development lets readers switch between listening to the audiobook and reading through the Kindle book. Add the audio companion to any Kindle book purchase, and you can easily flip between screen and headphones. This is great for when you have a moment to peruse the tablet or need to pop in the headphones and go. Either way, the story doesn’t have to stop! WhisperSync also tracks where you are in both versions, so when you switch it picks up where you left off in the other version. The main drawback here is that both versions need to be from the same regional service. For example, a Kindle book purchased from the UK Amazon site won’t be compatible with an audiobook from the U.S. Audible platform. This isn’t a problem for most, but something to consider for frequent flyers.
- Amazon Advantage – The advantage to being a subsidiary of Amazon means counting on the same privacy and security considerations of the Amazon company. This means protection of personal information and data. Amazon privacy policies extend to include Audible.
- Additionally, Audible is compatible with certain Amazon devices, like Alexa or Amazon Echo. You can cook or clean while Alexa reads your new favorite book! Integrating smart devices into the home became even easier, as shown in Amazon reviews for Audible.
What’s the Catch?
Like any service, Audible has cons. Some drawbacks come to light through Audible membership reviews and other Audible Amazon reviews. Knowing all the facts and all the options allow for a smarter consumer choice, so of course Audible reviews should cover the drawbacks. Some cons are based on individual consumers and personal preference – which should certainly be considered in the decision process.
- Subscription Fee - Audible is a monthly, reoccurring expense, similar to Netflix or HBO, and therefore needs to be worked into a monthly budget plan. If you are not consistently using the service, it might not be a wise investment. If you never actually listen to the books after downloading them, it is certainly a waste. If you joined Audible to quench a desire to digest one specific title, you might not consistently use the service enough to justify the cost. This is really based on personal use, but at least trying the free trial can give an idea of whether or not the cost is going to be worth it.
- The subscription fee is higher than some other monthly services on the market and can be a commitment depending on finances. There are other audiobook sites with lower rates, but those sites might not come with the Amazon backing. One of those other sites is Scribd, a site with a similar platform surrounding audiobooks. The cheaper monthly rate potentially makes Scribd a solid alternative to Audible, but the library selection is much more limited than Audible. Scribd does have a free trial period as well, so certainly sign up to a free Scribd trial today and compare the two for yourself! If you can check out our Scribd vs Audible comparison to find out more.
- Lost Credits - Yes, credits do roll over, but only for a certain window of time. Audible reviews report different numbers, but it seems credits disappear after a year. If you consistently forget to download books or remain largely inactive, Audible might not be the membership for you.
- Different Type of Experience - This really depends on the person, but some people think listening to a book loses some of the magic in comparison to the feel and smell of a physical book. If you think books are meant to be read, not listened to, take this into consideration before committing to an Audible subscription. This is why WhisperSync is such a nice compromise – but Kindle eBooks are not included in the monthly fee for Audible. If you are completely new to the world of audiobooks, subscribe to an Audible free trial and decide from there! It is certainly worth the listen, even if it doesn’t work out.
- Narration Quality - Audible membership reviews indicate narration can be a hit or miss in some cases. A lot of books have professional narrators or even the author as narrator, but not all of them. A poor narration can create a poor listening experience. This is where reviews and ratings come in handy, which is easily found on the site. Additionally, some books have previews available, allowing for a taste before diving into the commitment. With just a few credits each month, each title should be carefully selected, and narration quality is understandably a huge factor in making that choice.
- Engagement Is Different - Circling back to reading versus listening, it is much easier for your mind to wander while listening to a book versus following the words on the page. If this happens frequently, engagement lowers and crucial plot points can be missed. One might need to frequently reverse and listen again to really understand what is happening. Again, this is a personal vice and would come back to who you are as an audiobook consumer.
Is Audible Worth It?
Despite these cons, Audible is an extremely popular service for audiobook consumers and understandably so. Keeping the title forever once it is downloaded means having access to books at a lower rate than buying the title itself might be. Audible customers build up their libraries and can return to listen to their favorite title or narrator whenever the mood strikes.
Audible is also a stand-out in audiobook options when it comes to tracking across devices. This is so essential when moving between a smart device, tablet, and phone throughout the day as activities change. Time won’t be wasted finding where you left off as Audible tracks it for you. Audible works to create a smooth, integrative listening experience for subscribers and certainly seems largely successful in creating this.
Developments like Reese’s Book Club and Audible Originals show Audible is listening to customer input and growing with consumer interest and needs. It will be interesting to see how the service continues to grow and potentially offer new services or add-ons. Already steps have been made and opportunities opened!
Starting a free trial today can lead to being around for these new opportunities when they arise. The worth of a subscription really depends on how often you plan on using Audible, or at least remembering to let the library build up over time.
Audible is definitely worth the free trial period. One month brings two free audiobooks and a chance to see if the site offers what you need. You can test it out on a tablet or phone and really get the varied experience available in terms of narration styles and options. If it works out, great, keep it going and enjoy endless Audible options. If not, cancel the membership and move on. At the very least, you gave it a fair chance and can now come back and write your own Amazon Audible review.