Is Audible Worth it? Here’s What I Think
Are you curious about what Amazon’s audiobook service, Audible, has to offer? I put this popular audiobook app to the test, so you don’t have to. Read along to learn about what this app is about, including the pros and cons.
What is Audible?
Audible is a monthly subscription service that provides users with access to a massive database of audiobooks. You access and play these audiobooks through the Audible app. Audible provides members with monthly credits to purchase new titles. Over time, users are able to accumulate large libraries of audiobooks. Unlike similar audiobook subscriptions, all audiobooks purchased through Audible are yours to keep forever. If you’re not already reading , you’re missing out on a lot of knowledge. We all know that reading is good for us and audio is a good way to listen to books.
How Does Audible Work?
New users get the option to try Audible for free with an ongoing 30-day membership trial. This includes nearly a month of unlimited access to the database as well as a free audiobook. I found this free trial period to be a generous, commitment-free way to try out this digital product.
When your one-month free trial is over, Audible’s monthly subscription fee automatically adjusts to $14.95 a month. As a monthly member, you will receive one credit each pay period. That credit is redeemable for a single book of any value. Take note that one of the biggest complains about the free trial is that the company does not ask if you want to continue, but they automatically charge us if we don’t cancel the account.
Audible provides users with ad-free, high-quality audio files that can be listened to online or offline. That means you can delve into your favorite titles without racking up data charges or going through the hassle of finding a Wi-Fi password. What’s more, it enables you to curate your own digital archive of audiobooks that can be accessed at any time.
All Audible audiobooks are exchangeable. If you don’t enjoy a title, you may switch it for an alternative title with no hassle. Audible also offers members an exclusive 30 percent savings on additional monthly purchases, including mysteries & thrillers, personal development, business, bios & memoirs, sci-fi & fantasy.
How Much is Audible?
Are you still wondering if Audible is affordable? A basic membership costs just under $15, which is on par with most monthly subscription services. You only receive one monthly membership credit with this plan. Since membership credits are redeemable for a single audiobook of any price, it is smart to use this credit for costlier titles. After which, you can scour the app for promotional deals and low-cost classics. On occasion, you will find audiobooks priced as low as 99 cents!
It is important to note that the price you pay for audible fluctuates depending on the number of titles you purchase each month and how much you spend on them. I found that it helps to treat your membership credit as if its worth $15. This way, you spend it on something equal to or greater than the monthly membership fee. But that’s just how I would do it.
Unused membership credits can be rolled over from one month to another. Whether you are waiting on an upcoming new release or cannot decide between two titles, this feature ensures you never pay in vain.
Amazon offers the following membership options:
|Plan||Cost||# of Credits|
|Gold Monthly||$14.95 per month||1 per month|
|Gold Annual||$149.50 per year||12 per year|
|Platinum Monthly||$22.95 per month||2 per month|
|Platinum Annual||$229.50 per year||24 per year|
|Audible Channels||$4.95 per month||Podcasts only|
Gold Monthly – This plan costs $14.95 a month, includes one monthly membership credit, a 30 percent discount on additional audiobooks, hassle-free exchanges, and access to original podcasts.
Gold Annual – This plan costs $149.50 a year, includes 12 upfront membership credits, a 30 percent discount on additional audiobooks, hassle-free exchanges, and access to original podcasts.
Platinum Monthly – This plan costs $22.50 a month, includes two monthly membership credits, a 30 percent discount on additional audiobooks, hassle-free exchanges, and access to original podcasts.
Platinum Annual – This plan costs $229.50 a year and includes two monthly membership credits, a 30 percent discount on additional audiobooks, hassle-free exchanges, and access to original podcasts.
Audible Channels – This plan costs $4.95 a month and offers access to podcast originals only.
Gift subscriptions can also be purchased in three, six, and 12-month increments.
Audible For Prime Users
If you area an Amazon Prime member (paying $99 annually), you can use Audible for no extra cost. The limit here is that you will only get access to a rotating collection of 50+ books. Notably, you get access to the Audible channels as well which cost $4.95 on it’s own.
The Audible Library features over 425,000 Audiobooks. Given it is an offshoot of Amazon, we only expect that number to grow. It tops the ranks as one of the densest audiobook libraries on the market.
The library features a total of 26 book categories with titles spread evenly throughout. You can browse by category, lists & collections, or featured material. This includes a selection of titles that are compatible with the Amazon-exclusive service Whispersync.
Members also gain access to an extensive collection of audio shows. These are free with a monthly membership. They include genre-diverse Audible originals, such as Audicted, Sincerely X, and Real Crime.
Membership also includes audio news via the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and additional publications. What’s more, there is a steady stream of celebrity performances and live comedy to keep you entertained. While the non-audiobook content could serve to be expanded, it’s an excellent bonus feature you don’t see.
What is Whispersync and How Does It Work?
Whispersync for Voice is a unique service offered to Audible customers. It allows members to switch between listening to an audiobook and reading on a Kindle without missing a beat. The app also features real-time highlighting to boost reader engagement, comprehension, and retention. In short, you can sync your Audible audiobooks with a Kindle to pick up where you left off on a book. You will need an internet connection for this. To utilize the service, you need to purchase the audio companion to a Kindle book. While it is on the pricier side, there is no denying the convenience of this service. Currently, Amazon does not have a bundle for an ebbok + audiobook. That makes it a bit more expensive to get both and may not be for everyone.
Building a Collection
Every audiobook you purchase through Audible is yours to keep forever. In fact, it can even be downloaded onto a CD or stored on a limited number of devices. Plus, you can access your Audible library at any time, even if you cancel your subscription. While it takes a long time to build a personal library on membership credits alone, this is definitely a versatile and space-saving alternative to a physical home library.
It is important to note; you cannot purchase additional membership credits. Instead, you get a 30 percent discount on any additional purchases. As such, I feel this service is best suited for individuals who read one to two books a month. Otherwise, it can be quite costly. That being said, it’s a good idea to get one or two audiobooks a month and if you’re a big reader, just read the physical book too.
Like most Amazon products, the Audible app offers user-friendly navigation. You can toggle between pages and menus for quick and easy access to thousands of titles. Audiobook sub-categories such as “Pre-orders”, “Wish Lists”, and “Browse” (which includes several subheadings) make it easy to find new titles with rave reviews. Not to mention, all audiobooks are also subject to Amazon’s five-star customer review system.
Aesthetically, the app couldn’t get much better. It features easy-to-read text, high contrast visuals, and customizable toggles. With that being said, the affiliated website is a bit sparse, with just a white background, gallery-style book cover grids, and six overhead menus.
Still, each audiobook has a detailed product page with information such as author, length, release date, and publisher. Here, you can confirm whether a title is compatible with Whisper sync and add it to your wish list. There is also a one-click purchase option.
The site others a standard search bar that allows you to explore audiobook options through both vague and detailed credentials. It also offers an advanced search option that is similar to digital library catalogs, with fine-tuned credentials such as the title, author, narrator, and publisher. From there, you can narrow the search field by honing in on the program type, language, length, format, and more.
Using Multiple Devices
Audible files can be downloaded to a variety of devices and even MP3 players. To do so, you must install Audible Manager on the device. Then, you have to physically plug the device into your computer and go through a twelve step process. After this, your Audible content will be available on the device. Twelve steps mays seem like a lot but it is a quick and simple process.
You can also share your Audible audiobooks with any of the adult members of your Amazon Household. It is important to note that you cannot share content with a child’s account.
Previously, Audible’s Digital Rights Management system only allowed consumers to play books on three Audible-ready devices. This gave way to the upswing of programs designed to eliminate Audible’s DRM. Nevertheless, there is no longer an apparent limit. What’s more, consumers claim the MP3 files can be downloaded without hassle.
Beyond that, I thoroughly enjoyed having the ability to personalize the app settings. Two of the more convenient features were the options to set an automatic sleep timer and adjust the audio playback speed. Better still, the app tracks where you leave off. Therefore, you never have to worry about losing your place when stopping or switching between devices.
How is the Customer Service?
Audible is an Amazon-based digital service. As such, they offer 24/7 phone, email, and live chat customer support. I found that, regardless of the platform, the customer service agents responded quickly and aimed to please. I also found the “Popular Questions” page to be extremely informative. Whether you’re looking to cancel your membership or exchange an unwanted audiobook, Amazon aims to provide you with quick and pleasing answers to all of your questions.
The best part, Audible’s hassle-free exchange policy is no joke. You can literally return an unwanted audiobook at any time. Just go to “Account Details”, select “Purchase History”, locate the order you wish to return, and hit the orange “Return this Title” button.
However, experiences may differ from one person to another. I’ve read some bad reviews about their customer support. My experience overall has been good. The most notable complains were that support was a bit slow, and they get charged even after calling and cancelling the subscriptions.
Book Descriptions and Reviews
Let’s face it, regardless of the audiobook service; we are buying the same product. Therefore, a considerable part of our buying decision is determined by user experience. In the case of Audible, the particular product is a subtle but important detail.
When you click on a title, a page pops up with a large book cover image and list of quick facts about the publication. Here, you’ll find a “Sample” button that allows you to listen to a small tidbit of the audiobook to determine whether its right for you. As someone who can be somewhat picky about narrators, I found this option to be extremely valuable.
On the right side, you can opt to use your membership credit on the title, buy it outright, add it to a wish list, or share it to a variety of social media sites. Below this, you’ll find the “People who bought this also bought…” section. For me, this section was a treasure trove of valuable information. It generates useful recommendations based on the recent purchases of like-minded consumers. Of course, it is one of those sales tactics that Amazon uses but works and it’s possibly the best way to give a recommendation.
Next, there is a brief publisher’s summary which gives you the gist of the audiobook in two to four paragraphs. Following this, some audiobooks feature a small section for “Critic Reviews”.
On occasion, Amazon will post special offers for members. Sometimes, you can even purchase additional membership credits at a discounted price. To be considered for this deal, you need to have had the same Audible plan for two consecutive months, have one or no credits, and (if you are on the yearly plan) be at least 30 days from your next billing date. On top of that, Amazon offers inexpensive classics (sometimes as low as 99 cents).
Customer Rating System
At the bottom of a product page, there is a section called “What Members Say”. This breaks down the average customer ratings into three categories: “Overall”, “Performance,” and “Story”. Below each of these categories is a small bar graph that shows the number of people that gave five, four, three, two, or one-star reviews.
After this, there is you can switch between lists of Audible.com and Amazon reviews, sorting between “Most Helpful” and “Most Recent”. It appears as though the longest reviews are to be found at the top.
As someone who is very picky about the books I listen to, I found this feature to be extremely helpful. However, it is important to note that these reviews have the potential to be biased and misleading, but are unlikely to be so because Audible do verify buyers.
What About the Alternatives?
Audible isn’t the only audiobook subscription service on the market. However, it stands out because of its extensive library. While public libraries typically offer services such as Hoopla or Overdrive for free, you get far fewer options to choose from. What’s more, you are often restricted to a small number of monthly audiobook rentals. The same thing goes for popular pay-to-borrow services. Whereas, Audible provides a wide variety of options and purchases are yours to keep for forever.
Possibly the best alternative would be Audiobooks.com. They do not have as extensive a library but it is still huge and we will probably find the books we are looking for. They have a 30 day free trial as well. If you find the ‘con’s of Audible too much for you, try out Audiobooks. The price is the same and you get 1 book a month as well for $14.95. They used to charge $24.95but lowered the price to compete.
Pros and Cons
There are some notable pros and cons that you should be aware of. Especially the cons. Overall, my experience on the app and reviews are mostly good. There are some complains that we will address below. Most of the pros are already in the review, so that section will be short, while the cons will be a bit longer.
Audible is a convenient way to read when I’m busy. I don’t like to think of audio as a replacement for physical books. However, as a working mother and blogger here, I barely have enough time in the day as it is. For me, audiobooks allow me to indulge in entertaining or informative literature even if I can’t set my eyes on it. I can progress through a novel while walking my dog, driving my kids to playdates, and folding laundry. Alas, I can rest my eyes at the end of the day while pursuing a book.
Easy access to my library from any device. As a public library enthusiasts, I was initially leery of paying for an Audible subscription service. After all, why pay for audiobooks when I can borrow them for free? It turns out that the ability to access my audiobook library from multiple devices and flawlessly pick up where I last left off is well worth it. To top that, I don’t have to wait for new releases or popular titles to cycle through long waiting lists. Instead, I get instant access to these titles with a click of a button. What’s more, I never have to worry about incurring library fines or returning material.
Credits may be a hassle. Each plan allows for a different number of membership credits to be rolled over from one pay period to another. For example, the Gold membership allows for a maximum of five to roll over, whereas the Platinum Annual allows for 12. More importantly, you lose your credits if you cancel your membership.
Besides that, some audiobook prices can be quite high even after applying the 30 percent discount. For example, Stephen King’s The Outsider is currently listed for $34.99. With a 30 percent discount, the price drops down to $24.49. However, the same audiobook sells for $16.95 on Google Play. Not all books are cheaper on Google Play but this particular one is.
After the free trial is over, they charge automatically. There are many complains about this with people saying “the free trial is not actually a free trial” and so on. The best thing to do if you plan on taking the trial is to make sure that before 30 days, make a decision and either cancel the account or continue letting it be.
Audible/Amazon has a reputation of overcharging customers. Although getting a refund is easy enough, it’s still a hassle and something that we shouldn’t even be dealing with. The common ones are the charge for a free trial and double charging when you subscribe or upgrade. It doesn’t happen all the time but those are the most common complains.
What I think of the pros and cons?
In the end, I am not someone who is likely to spend top dollar on something such as an Audiobook. For one, I am not likely to listen to it more than one time. Secondly, I don’t feel that the audio files are adequate replacements for physical paper books nor e-books. For me, there is something sacred and raw about readings text.
There is no doubt that listening to an audiobook is convenient. During my trial period, I found myself indulging in Donna Tartt’s award-winning book, The Goldfinch while I cleaned my bathroom. At 32 hours and 29 minutes, it lasted me nearly an entire month. Nevertheless, I still shelled out another $6.95 on an hour-long self-help book.
While Tartt’s book was available on CD at my local library, I had trouble justifying paying $14.95 for it. Nevertheless, I was able to take it with me on my daily bike ride, to the gym, and even for lunch without a hassle. I also was able to download it to my phone so that I didn’t have to rely on internet or data.
One of the best features of Audible is the audiobooks can be downloaded and listened to online and offline. While this may not seem like a big deal, not having to worry about finding Wi-Fi or using data is imperative to many people (myself included). What’s more, Audible allows users to download all or part of an audiobook. Therefore, you can opt to save device space or personal time by only downloaded a select portion at a time. Whichever option you choose, all Audible audiobook purchases will remain in the cloud indefinitely.
While not for everyone, the Audible app tracks listener stats and awards subsequent badges. As listeners unlock badges, they have the option to share their progress on social media. If you share your account with a household member, each member can independently track their personal progress, stats, and badges. Some featured badges include “Mount Everest”, “Marathoner”, and “Daily Dipper”. The tracker helped me to set personal goals and adequately log my summer reading. It is also a cool way to compete with friends and family members.
Bookmarks and Notes
One of my favorite Audible features is “Clips”. “Clips” allows users to mark their progress with a digital bookmark, add notes, and more. It even allows you to save and share an audiobook passage. This will enable you to clip, edit, and share these audio tidbits via email or social media. It also saves the location of the audio so that you can return to it at any time.
If you’re someone who enjoys quoting passages or writing in the margins, this is the digital manifestation of an age-old practice. Plus, don’t worry if you’re sharing your audiobooks. All members get their own annotations, notes, and bookmarks.
Do I Recommend Audible?
I would recommend Audible to light listeners looking to expand their audiobook libraries. For one, this service is relatively inexpensive. More so, it features the most expansive audiobook library currently on the market. Furthermore, the app is easy to navigate and features user-friendly settings. Beyond that, Whispersync audiobooks offer a flexible alternative for individuals who enjoy reading but struggle to find the time to do it.
If you’re still not sure if Audible is right for you, you can use the free 30-day trial and see how it works. Not only do you receive a free audiobook of your choosing, but you get the opportunity to gauge how often you would utilize the service. Be sure to download the audible app and play around with the settings to ensure you get the best possible user experience.
If you or someone you know has tried Audible recently or have an opinion on the review, tell us about that experience in the comments below.