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Audible Review

Friday, March 1st

2024 Audiobook Store Reviews

Audible Review 3.5 Star Rating

Audible

3.5 Star Rating
  • Cost: $7.95/month or $14.95/month
  • Catalog size: 400,000+
  • Offers exclusive "Audible Originals"
  • 30-day free trial with one free credit
  • Premium Plus members receive unlimited access to Audible's Plus Catalog
  • Whispersync technology allows syncing of reading on a Kindle and listening on Audible

Founded in 1995, Audible was envisioned as a digital alternative to traditional books and CDs, introducing one of the first dedicated digital audio players even before the advent of Apple's iPod. As a pioneer in spoken-word content, Audible experienced a real surge after its acquisition by Amazon in 2008, integrating it into a vast digital empire. Today, it differentiates itself from other audiobook platforms by offering exclusive "Audible Originals," a vast collection of audiobooks, sleep programs, radio drama, theater, and a unique subscription model.

Free Premium Plus trial

During your 30-day free trial of Audible, you'll receive one free credit, which you can redeem for any audiobook in Audible's library, no matter its original price (if you're an Amazon Prime member, you're eligible to receive two free credits for the same time period). This lets you explore the platform and enjoy an audiobook of your choice. If you decide that a paid subscription isn't for you, just cancel before the trial concludes and you won't be charged the $14.95 for renewal. And remember, even if you opt out of continued membership, the audiobook you chose with your free credit is yours to keep and listen to forever. It's a no-risk way for you to see if Audible matches your listening style and tastes.

Audible Plus for only $7.95 a month

On this membership tier, you have access to only a limited selection of books from Audible's catalog. They recommend this membership for those who primarily listen to podcasts or other short-form content. You won't be able to listen to any of the audiobooks that require a credit. You can purchase audiobooks directly from Audible without signing up for a membership, but you'll be paying almost double what Premium Plus members pay for their monthly credit and access to the Plus Catalog.

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Perks for Premium Plus members

For a monthly fee of $14.95, Premium Plus members will enjoy unlimited titles from Audible's Plus Catalog (which includes podcasts, audiobooks, and Audible Originals), a monthly credit, plus 30% off any titles you may decide to pay full price for after using up your credit. Audible recommends this plan for those who like to listen to new releases and best sellers.

Credits can expire

If you don't use your credit, it will roll over to the next month. However, if you don't use your credits within a year of their purchase, they will expire. Audible justifies this by explaining that the credit system is set up to benefit both users and the creators behind the audiobooks. When a credit is used or expires, it generates royalties for authors, actors, and other professionals, which is a significant part of their income. The reason credits expire after a year is twofold: to encourage users to pick and enjoy their audiobooks in a timely manner and to ensure that the artists are compensated fairly. While this might feel restrictive to some, Audible aims to find a balance that respects both its users and the artists.

Limited returns on purchased titles

If you're an Audible Premium Plus member, you have the option to return titles that you didn't enjoy and get your credit back, but there are some restrictions. You can only return titles purchased with credits, and you have to make the return within 365 days of purchase. Keep in mind that Audible can limit the number of returns or even revoke your return privileges, so use this feature responsibly. In the past, there were fewer restrictions, but some users were treating Audible like a library, returning titles they had listened to fully and enjoyed. This resulted in narrators losing their royalties and sometimes even owing money to Audible.

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Standard playback features and functionality

Audible works on a variety of platforms and devices, including iOS and Android apps, Windows and Mac desktop applications, and web browsers. Amazon's own devices, like the Kindle and Echo, also support Audible playback. The Audible app's playback interface includes standard navigation controls, playback speed adjustment, a sleep timer, and bookmarking capabilities.

Recommendations from editors

On the browsing page of Audible, you'll find the "Audible Editors" collections. These are selections of audiobooks chosen by the platform's in-house editors. The collections give a glimpse into the editors' preferences and their understanding of what listeners might appreciate. They cover a range of genres, from thrillers to non-fiction and classics. For those who feel daunted by the vast array of titles on Audible or are looking for some guidance, the "Audible Editors" collections can serve as a helpful starting point.

Whispersync Technology allows you to sync listening and reading

Whispersync is a feature developed by Amazon that maintains continuity between reading on a Kindle and listening on Audible. Think about those times when you're engrossed in a book at home, but you want to continue the narrative during your commute. With Whispersync, if you transition from your Kindle to Audible, it'll automatically pick up from where you left off. For this seamless experience, you'll need to have both the Kindle eBook and the corresponding Audible audiobook, which could get pricey if you're paying for both. Helpful tip: you might be able to check out the eBook from your library's digital catalog and send it to the Kindle app. For those who enjoy reading but sometimes prefer the ease of listening, Whispersync can be incredibly convenient. Just remember to periodically connect both your Kindle and Audible apps to the internet to maintain the synchronization.

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Audible Originals are exclusive to Audible

Audible Originals are exclusive audio content produced and curated by Audible. These titles are different from other spoken-word content in that they aren't available on any other platform outside of Audible. Audible Originals span various genres and formats, including full-length novels, non-fiction pieces, plays, scripted series, and short stories. Collaborations between renowned authors, celebrities, and experienced audio content creators often result in unique listening experiences. Subscribers to Audible receive access to select Audible Originals as part of their membership benefits, adding an exclusive dimension to their audiobook library. Seeing the yellow label on an audiobook cover that says "only from Audible" gives Audible users a sense of exclusive access to premium content.

Ethical questions about Audible Originals

However, Audible has faced criticism for creating barriers to access for some readers. The exclusivity of Audible Originals means that these audiobooks can only be sold and distributed through Amazon's Audible and cannot be sold by any other retailers or providers, including local bookshops or libraries. Unfortunately, some people who require audiobooks to read due to disabilities are more likely to be underemployed or unemployed and often rely on libraries for access to audiobooks. Critics argue that it is unjust and unacceptable for Amazon to put a paywall between an author's disabled audience and their book by making them available only for a monthly fee.

We like them

Audible is undeniably at the top of the industry, and it's for a reason: with their vast catalog of high-quality full-cast audiobooks, podcasts, radio dramas, and the star factor created by celebrity features in Audible Originals, they're hard to beat. However, some dyed-in-the-wool bibliophiles may have a bone to pick with their ethics. Additionally, their prices can be a little high compared to other services we have reviewed. For these reasons, we rank Audible as better than average and worth a look.

Where Can You Find the Best Audiobook Listening Service?

The world of audiobooks has seen huge growth over the past decade, with industry surveys showing a double-digit increase for ten years in a row with no signs of slowing down. Various platforms for listening to audiobooks have popped up, each one catering to different user needs, budgets, and preferences.

The recent boom in the popularity of audiobooks can be attributed to a few different factors, but one of the biggest reasons is how well they fit into our busy, multitasking lives. You can listen while you're commuting, working out, or even doing household chores like folding the laundry. It's a great way to access intellectually engaging entertainment while getting some drudgery done.

The Best Audiobook Stores Compare Audiobook Stores Compare Audiobook Store Reviews What are the best Audiobook Stores Best Audiobook Store Reviews

Audiobook Store FAQ

It's exactly what you'd think: an audio recording of a narrator reading a novel, biography, or any other printed work. Some audiobooks are strictly narration, while others incorporate sound effects and other engineering to enrich the listening experience.
It's hard to multitask with a printed book in your hand, but listening to an audiobook gives people more freedom. Driving while listening to a self-help book, enjoying a thriller while on the treadmill, or relaxing outdoors while having a favorite narrator read the latest bestseller are just a few ways book-lovers can essentially have their cake and eat it too. Plus, for anyone who struggles to read print - because of dyslexia, vision impairment, and so on - audiobooks are a must.
A better question might be "what titles can't you get" ! From classic stories like Pollyanna and Dracula to the top 10 books on the NYT Best Sellers list, the possibilities are nearly endless. History buffs, sci-fi fanatics, autobiography lovers, romance addicts, and every other type of reader can find what they're looking for when it comes to audiobooks.
You can do either one - or both! Some audiobook services are subscription-based, giving you access to a certain number of titles for your monthly fee. Others provide titles a la carte, so you buy only what you want, when you want. There are even audiobook providers that let you rent what you read!
Not really. You can expect to pay anywhere from $3 to $30 for a single title, comparable to what you'd pay for the book itself. If you choose a membership service, fees usually range from $10 to $30 per month, depending on how many titles you'd like to have at any given time.
Not usually. You can stream titles if you prefer, but most audiobook platforms allow you to download the title to your phone or computer for offline listening. Of course, you'll need to be connected to the internet to select your book and download it, but you're free to disconnect once you have the title saved to your device.
That depends, both on the audiobook service you select and the app or platform you use for listening (and sometimes those two aspects are integrated). Some listeners appreciate being able to listen to titles at twice the speed (even though it comes out a little like a chipmunk!). You can also find services that let you sync up an audiobook with the print title, letting you essentially follow along in the book while it's read to you.
This is a hotly-debated topic! Some people say that audiobooks are a "lazy" way of reading - or that they don't even count as "reading" a book because you don't use your eyes on a page. Others fiercely advocate for audiobooks as an effective method of letting all people love books, even if the actual act of reading the words isn't part of the process. At the end of the day, if you enjoy audiobooks as a part of your life, we say "keep listening!"
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Continued from above...

And, thanks to technological advancements, it's easier than ever to access audiobooks. It used to be that you had to confine yourself to a room with a CD player to listen to an audiobook, but now, anyone with a smartphone has thousands of audiobooks available at their fingertips. Plus, as audiobooks have grown in popularity, so has their production quality.

Audiobook narrators aren't merely reciting the words on the e-reader in front of them in the recording booth; they are acting out the story. Accomplished actors and seasoned voice artists can bring stories to life, adding an auditory dimension to characters and settings that can sometimes rival or surpass the imagination. Narrators are often chosen because the story resonates with them personally, adding an extra layer of emotion to the performance and making it feel more human.

For those apprehensive about putting on their headphones instead of picking up a book, it's worth addressing some common misconceptions about audiobooks. Contrary to the belief that listening to a book is "cheating" or less intellectually engaging than reading, many studies show that the comprehension levels between reading and listening are strikingly similar. What's more, audiobooks can be particularly beneficial for those with reading difficulties, allowing them to enjoy literature they might otherwise struggle with. They are not a replacement for traditional reading but rather a complementary medium, broadening the horizons of literary engagement.

When it comes to audiobook services, there are several types to choose from. First, there are library-based services which partner with local libraries to allow users to digitally borrow audiobooks. Much like a traditional library, you can "check out" titles for a specific time frame using your library card. However, be mindful that sought-after titles might have waiting lists. Another option is subscription-based services. With a recurring fee, usually monthly, users can access a broad range of audiobooks. Depending on the service, you might get a set number of credits to pick audiobooks each month or even enjoy unlimited listening. Lastly, there are pay-per-title services where, rather than a subscription, you buy each audiobook separately. While there's no monthly commitment, the upfront cost for each audiobook can be higher. The upside is that you typically get to keep the audiobook forever once you've bought it.

When deciding on the right audiobook service, several considerations can help guide your decision:

  • Cost: Determine your budget for audiobooks. Some services might have a higher monthly fee but offer more benefits, while others might be more cost-effective for infrequent listeners.
  • Subscription model: Evaluate if you'd prefer a monthly subscription, a pay-per-title approach, or a library-based system. Your listening habits (how many books you listen to each month) can help inform this choice.
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM): DRM policies can restrict how you use, transfer, and download audiobooks. Make sure the platform gives you the necessary flexibility and control, as owning a title doesn't always guarantee freedom over it. A more restrictive DRM can limit your ability to move titles between devices or even result in losing access to your books if the service shuts down. Choose platforms that respect your rights as a user.
  • Selection: Check the variety and volume of titles available, especially in genres or topics you prefer. Some services might excel in fiction, while others might cater more to non-fiction or educational content.
  • Trial period: See if the service offers a free trial. This can be a risk-free way to gauge the platform's interface, selection, and overall experience.
  • Usability: The user interface and ease of navigation are essential. You want a service that's intuitive and doesn't frustrate you every time you want to find a new book or pick up where you left off.
  • Offline listening: Be sure the platform lets you download titles for offline access, vital for travel or areas with spotty internet.
  • Playback features: Look for features like bookmarking, sleep timers, chapter navigation, and personalized recommendations that can enhance your listening experience.

If you want a detailed overview of the best audiobook services out there, Top Consumer Reviews has your back. We trust our ranked evaluations will guide you to the audiobook platform that best matches your listening habits and lifestyle!

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