The purpose of Wednesday Resource Reviews is to help listeners and potential listeners compare and contrast the many audiobook listening resources available to them.
I will test as many of these resources as possible and relay my first-hand experiences in an effort to help you find an audiobook resource/service that best fits you.
Wednesday Resource Reviews are purely based on my subjective experience and information available on the web, from other listeners, or from someone representing the resource (i.e. customer service).
All types of resources will be reviewed, including those from free audiobook sources. However, illegal sources (such as those violating copyright laws) will not be reviewed.
•Format: Digital Download and Streaming
•Type of Service: Subscription and Individual Purchase
•Selection: 180,000+ titles
Audible was the obvious choice for the debut post of Wednesday Resource Review. Audible is an industry giant when it comes to the production, marketing, and retailing of audiobooks. It’s also the service that I’ve been using the longest.
Digital audiobooks and Audible are synonymous in most people’s minds. I would be willing to bet that a good amount of audiobook listeners aren’t even aware that other audiobook companies exist. That’s how popular Audible is.
And it is definitely for a reason. Audible has won a Grammy. A Grammy.
Let that sink in.
Audible was founded by Donald Katz in 1995 and acquired by Amazon in 2008. It is the largest digital audiobook company in the world with services available in the US, the UK, France, Australia, and Germany.
Audible’s selection is larger than any other service I have encountered. You would be hard pressed to search their website and not find what you’re looking for.
To my knowledge, they are the only audiobook service to offer a credit-based system, membership club discounts, and à la carte purchasing.
They also have 4 standard subscription plans to choose from:
•Gold monthly membership: $14.95/month= 1 audiobook credit
•Platinum monthly membership: $22.95/month= 2 audiobook credits
•Gold annual membership: $149.50/year= 12 audiobook credits (all at once)
•Platinum annual membership: $229.50/year= 24 audiobook credits (all at once)
•Audible has other “hidden” membership options that tend to pop up as you are trying to cancel your account or that occasionally appear in emails. Contacting customer service is probably the best way to learn more about them.
Each of these subscription plans comes with several bonus perks:
• Membership pricing: Audible subscribers enjoy a 30% discount on all audiobooks not purchased with a credit. Example: Subscribers can buy Graceling at a discounted price of $9.95, as opposed to the non-subscriber price of $31.47. That’s quite a difference!
• Exclusive sales: Audible regularly holds fantastic members-only sales. Most sales have some sort of theme that determines which audiobooks are discounted at that time. Subscribers can nab great titles for around $4.95-$6.95 a piece.
• Free subscriptions to other publications: Included in your audible membership is a free daily subscription to The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal (your choice). Members also get a free digital issue of Audiofile Magazine.
• Audible Channels: The newest and most unique feature offered to Audible subscribers is Audible Channels. Only available in the Audible app, Channels provide free, short-ish listening programs in a variety of topics. Channels is hard to describe because there isn’t really anything else like it available today. It’s like a cross between podcasts and old radio shows. I recently listened a series about the life of Queen Elizabeth II and loved it!
• Awesome customer service: Audible has Amazon’s trademark customer service. I’ve contacted them a few times and have never come away from the encounter feeling frustrated or the least bit unsatisfied.
• Great Listen Guarantee: Don’t like I purchased you made through Audible? Return it. It’s as simple as that. I’ve taken advantage of this two-clicks return policy and can personally vouch for its hassle-free nature. In fact, the entire Audible website should be applauded for its ease of use.
But I wouldn’t be The Audiobookworm if I didn’t try to show you the other side of the coin, would I?
There are a few things I wish were a little different about Audible’s service:
•The price: Some might find this service’s fees a little steep. I’ll admit that there have been times when I have considered canceling because of this very reason. But Audible always manages to keep me hooked by offering a last-second deal that’s too good to pass up.
• One opportunity to pause: One alternative to canceling is pausing your membership. Audible allows you to place your monthly membership on hold for up to three months. During that time, you will not be charged your monthly fee and you won’t receive new credits. You’ll still be able to spend any credits you already have, all of the books in your library will remain accessible, and you can still enjoy the 30% membership discount on purchases. However, your account can only be placed on hold once every 12 months. That’s the part I’m not so crazy about, especially after having been spoiled by Scribd’s unrestrictive pausing feature.
•No in-app purchasing: Audible’s app is incredible. You can do nearly anything with it… except buy audiobooks! Purchasing must be done from a computer, not a mobile device. This is a minor thing, but it’s something I think about every time I have to get out of bed to purchase a sequel in the middle of the night.
Altogether, Audible is still miles ahead of any other service out there. There are viable alternatives to Audible, which will be discussed in coming weeks, but this is definitely the service to beat.