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Friday, March 1st
Founded in 2018, Chirp is an audiobook service that offers its users a rotating selection of discounted audiobooks, enabling audiophiles to delve into new stories without breaking the bank. Unlike some subscription-based services, Chirp operates on a "pay-as-you-go" model, meaning listeners only pay for the titles they're interested in. The platform curates a selection of audiobooks across various genres and offers them at highly discounted promotional rates.
No monthly membership fees
Registering for Chirp is straightforward - simply provide your email address and select categories and authors of interest. Chirp uses this data to send you emails about audiobook recommendations on sale in the categories you have selected. You don't need to enter any payment information for Chirp since there's no membership fee. You only pay for the individual audiobooks you choose to purchase.
Buy a series for the price of one audiobook
You can browse audiobooks by deal, genre, and popularity right from Chirp's homepage. They even offer audiobook bundles where you can purchase entire series of books for as little as $2 and up to $15.
Titles for all tastes
In the "Less Than $2" category, you might have to dig to find something worth listening to. Trashy romance novels with covers featuring male models in stages of undress abound - if this is your jam, then you're in the right place. However, if you consider your tastes to be a little more refined, you might want to check out the "Hot Deals" tab where the selection is a bit more curated. Here you can find bestsellers you may have missed when they first came out for around $5.99 each.
Less expensive than credit-based platforms
You'll find the more recent releases and top authors in the New York Times Bestsellers category for around $13-$17 each - about the same price as a credit from a credit-based audiobook service but way less expensive than retail (which is usually in the $25-$35 range).
Only available in North America
Unfortunately, Chirp is only available in the US and Canada for now, so international audiobook listeners won't be able to use it. We couldn't find any plans for Chirp to expand internationally at the time of this review.
You don't really own your files
Another downside is that Chirp uses Digital Rights Management (DRM), which means that you can't download the files of the audiobooks you've purchased in your chosen format. Instead, you have to use the Chirp app for Android or iOS to stream or download your audiobooks. You can also stream from your web browser on a Mac or PC, but you can't download titles to these devices.
App is not consistently functional
We also found some reports that the Chirp app is glitchy on both iOS and Android. Users report the app crashing, needing to restart the app before changing Bluetooth connections, and the audio stopping after each chapter - meaning you need to press play again at the end of every chapter. One dissatisfied user noted that as their library grew to 100 titles, managing them became increasingly difficult: the website allows for creating collections, but the app does not allow for viewing them and instead requires scrolling through a large grid of books listed, somewhat inexplicably, by the author's first name, not last.
Customer service complaints
We also found a few reports from customers stating that Chirp support was unreachable. Some reported that their requests for help through the site's email contact form went unanswered for days or weeks.
You can't buy new audiobooks in the app
We also aren't thrilled that you can't purchase books directly through the Chirp app. You have to buy through Chirp's website first, and then they'll appear in your library in-app.
Service has some drawbacks, but could still provide value
Since you don't need to pay for a membership to sign up for Chirp, there's really no risk involved. Chirp will probably work best for those who don't listen to audiobooks very frequently, or those who already use another audiobook service but would like to save some money when the service runs deals on titles in their Chirp wishlist. However, we do have some concerns: we aren't big fans of Digital Rights Management to begin with, but we'd at least expect that if Chirp is going to force users to use its app to listen to the audio files they've paid for, the app would at least function well. Chirp's app does not. For this failing, we have to dock them a few points.
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.
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:
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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