According to One Book-Obsessed Writer, Audible on Amazon Is Leading the Charge in the Audiobook Industry

Why this service outweighs the experience of a physical book.

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Audible review
Photo: audible.com

As an avid reader, I've always been stubborn about reading physical books. I love the scent and crinkle of each page, and for a long time, I couldn't understand how people enjoyed reading on a Kindle or listening to an audiobook. Of course, I was judging without having actually tried it, and over the last year, my opinion has vastly changed. While there's merit in the experience of physical books, audiobooks provide an equally enjoyable journey, are better for the environment (smaller carbon footprint than books and e-readers), and, in some cases, allow you to hear the words from the person who wrote them—which, as a writer, I absolutely love.

Audible is an audio membership service through Amazon that provides a huge catalog of audiobooks, so you literally have hundreds of stories at your fingertips. This service saves time because unlike a physical book that requires your full attention (and hands), you can listen to Audible when you're doing other things like chores or when you're out and about. Whether you're driving or just taking a walk, your stories go where you go, and that's really valuable. In addition to audiobooks, Audible features podcasts, sleepy-time stories, original short stories, and more. If you sign up for the Audible Premium Plus membership right now, you'll pay just $6 for the first three months (after the free trial ends) and receive a $20 credit for additional audiobooks.

Sign up for a free trial now: Audible Premium Plus Membership, $0/month for 30 days.

Audible review
audible.com

How Does Audible Work?

You sign up for Audible using your Amazon account (you will need to create an account if you don't already have one). The service offers newcomers a 30-day free trial, which automatically renews unless you cancel the subscription before the month is over. The free trial comes with one credit (good for one audiobook) or two credits if you're an Amazon Prime member. You can use Audible on any mobile device, laptop, or speaker (like an Alexa), but I've found that the easiest way to access audiobooks is through the app on my phone.

Once you're in the app, you can browse books in each genre via the "discover" tab. If you see a book you'd like to read later, add the title to your "wishlist." Each book includes a summary, reviews, information about the narrator, and a sample for you to listen to. Once you select which book you'd like to read, your credit will be applied and the book is moved into your library, which can be organized by genre, author, or collection.

Audiobooks are categorized by chapter like a traditional book, and the app keeps track of where you are so you can pick back up at any time. Audible is extremely immersive: You can see how long each chapter is (time-wise) and select the audio speed (how fast the narrator talks) for a more customized experience. If you want to listen before you go to bed, but don't want to risk falling asleep and missing the whole story, you have the option to set a sleep timer.

There's also a bookmark icon that lets you save certain clips from the story, such as a favorite quote or an important plot point that you may want to return to later. I use bookmarks for mysteries because if I read something that seems like a clue, I'll save it and see if I was right once the plot twists are revealed. (Humble brag: I usually am!)

Once you finish a book, it will move to the "finished" section of your library where you have the option to write a review. Then, you're ready for your next read (or listen)!

Sign up now: Audible Premium Plus Membership, $15/month after a 30-day free trial; amazon.com.

My overall rating for Audible: 9.2 out of 10

Pros

  • Better for the environment than physical books and e-readers
  • Month-long free trial
  • Largest inventory of audiobooks and podcasts online
  • Users can customize their story experience with elements like audio speed
  • Accessible story experience for users with impairments and learning disorders, such as blindness and dyslexia
  • You own each audiobook you purchase with the Premium Plus membership, so even if you cancel your membership, the books stay on your app

Cons

  • Unused credits expire one year after the issue date
  • If you gravitate toward one genre, you might run out of new books quicker than if you switch up genres
Audible review
audible.com

Audible Plans

There are two main Audible plans you can choose from: Audible Plus and Audible Premium Plus. Audible Plus is the platform's basic monthly membership, which gives you access to unlimited streaming and listening from the Plus catalog (over 11,000 titles) for a set price (similar to Netflix).

Audible Premium Plus is the most popular plan because in addition to everything included in the Plus catalog, this membership gives you one monthly credit that can be used to purchase a book from Audible's premium selections library (which includes best-sellers). Any premium books you purchase stay in your personal library, so even if you cancel your membership down the road, you get to keep the audiobooks you bought. For even more selections, you can opt for a two-credit monthly plan, an annual plan with immediate access to 12 credits, or an annual plan with immediate access to 24 credits (with set pricing for each).

Sign up now: Audible Premium Plus Membership, $15/month after a 30-day free trial; amazon.com.

Audible Cost

The Audible Plus plan costs $8 per month (you can easily sign up for this option at amazon.com), and it gives you access to all the titles in Audible's Plus catalog. These can be streamed an unlimited number of times, but they're not owned by the user, so if you cancel your membership, you will no longer have access to the books. There are more than 11,000 books in this inventory, but they're not all best-sellers.

The standard Audible Premium Plus plan costs $15 per month for one credit (the equivalent of one premium audiobook), plus the free inventory of the Plus catalog. As previously mentioned, any book purchased with a credit belongs to you, so you can download the book and keep it even if you cancel your Audible membership. For a two-credit Premium Plus membership, you'll pay $23 per month. For readers who want instant access to more premium titles, consider a Premium Plus annual plan: $150 per year for immediate access to 12 credits or $230 per year for immediate access to 24 credits. If you want to purchase more credits, Audible releases special offers on occasion that allow you to buy three extra credits. Should you run out of credits and still want to purchase books, you can do so with a credit card, and will receive 30 percent off as a member discount. You can also gift Audible subscriptions.

Audible Plus and Audible Premium Plus memberships each come with a 30-day free trial and can be canceled at any time.

Audible review
audible.com

Audible Books

The Audible Plus catalog contains more than 11,000 titles with new books being added weekly. Featuring classics like George Orwell's 1984 and new discoveries like A Perfect Stranger by Shalini Boland, you'll find hours of entertainment in this captivating library. Then there are the exclusive selections included in the Premium Plus membership—think best-sellers like John Grisham's The Judge's List (I recommend anything by Grisham) and Jodi Picoult's Wish You Were Here. I personally would love to listen to Will Smith narrate his new memoir Will.

Audible's inventory also includes a ton of popular podcasts like Crime Junkie from Ashley Flowers and We Can Do Hard Things from Glennon Doyle. Plus, you'll find Audible Originals, which are short stories on various topics.

Can't sleep? Check out Audible's collection of sleep audio, including meditations, ASMR, bedtime stories, landscape sounds (like ocean waves), and so much more. Like with audiobooks, you can set a sleep timer so your app will stop the audio after a set amount of time, saving your battery.

Audible's Impact on Sustainability

As mentioned above, audiobooks have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than physical books and e-readers. While you might think e-readers have less of an impact on the environment than physical books, the energy needed to make and then charge these devices is equivalent to the production of 100 physical books.

Meanwhile, audiobooks don't require any production or shipping, so apart from data storage, they don't use much energy. Therefore, services like Audible are your best bet for eco-friendly reading, but there are also other ways to support climate initiatives as a reader. You can donate physical books to the library or share them with a friend when you're finished. If you do have an e-reader, you should aim to read more than 100 books on it to account for the energy used to produce it.

Audible review
audible.com

Audible Customer Service and Reviews

Audible's customer service page is user-friendly with buttons to compare plans, switch or pause your subscription, and cancel memberships. You can also utilize the website's detailed FAQ page or fill out a form if you have specific questions about your account. To contact customer service, either use the above mentioned form or call 1-888-283-5051. Customers have said the service team is "exemplary" and great for helping with refunds, billing, and cancellations.

When talking about Audible as a whole, one reviewer wrote, "I initially signed up for Audible because of a one-month-free promotion, assuming that I would cancel after the month was over. But here I am, four months later and loving it. Whenever I'm waiting in line somewhere, walking to a destination, or have time to kill, I just take out my phone and earbuds and start listening, which makes the time pass by more quickly."

Another satisfied user said, "I thought the app was well done; the selection was fantastic… All in all, I would recommend this service to anyone who enjoys books on tape or nowadays listening to books on any device. They have lots of 'read by the author or famous people' type books."

A few customers said it was difficult to cancel their membership, with one writing, "The service itself is fine. We didn't really use it very much as we use the local library more. The service was difficult for us to cancel through Amazon—however, every time we called, every representative was courteous and professional. They all did their best to assist us with canceling."

Price was also an issue for some: "I would be an enthusiastic booster for Audible if it ran on the newer model like Netflix or Spotify, and allowed users access to ALL of its content for a subscription fee rather than a monumentally high subscription fee for access to a single audio book," one critic noted.

As for its accessibility, a visually impaired reviewer said, "I love Audible because I have glaucoma and I'm half blind, and I can basically hear the stories I've always wanted to hear. It's like being read a bedtime story... my anxiety has calm[ed] down."

Sign up now for a free trial ofAudible Premium Plus at amazon.com.

Audible: My Take

I've tried several audio services, including Apple Books and Spotify, and where Audible soars over its competitors is its inventory of both books and other audio experiences like podcasts and short stories. The volume of stories is massive, and when you have the Audible Premium Plus membership, you also have access to more books from an extended library of best-sellers and new releases.

This service is ideal for those who love stories but don't have time to read them. Audible allows you to multitask while exploring a vast digital library. Absorb a nonfiction memoir while you're exercising or dive into a historical fiction novel while you're commuting to work. It should be noted that the service caters to readers who are interested in a lot of different genres, so if you're set on one type, you might run out of new options sooner than expected.

Overall, I think Audible is a great option for book lovers (and podcast listeners) because it saves you so much time. If you've been spending hundreds of dollars on physical books, Audible is also cost effective because of the free audiobooks included in the membership.

My Rating

I gave Audible on Amazon an overall rating of 9.2 out of 10 after evaluating factors like accessibility, user experience, price, and size of inventory.

Factors What it means Numerical ranking (1-10)
User Experience This service is user-friendly. 9
Quality of App The app is functional and easy to navigate. 10
Customization Customers can customize the service or experience through various options within the membership. 9
Accessibility This service provides an accessible experience for those with an impairment or disability. 10
Inventory The service has a large inventory of products available. 10
Price The price is reasonable for the quality of service you receive. 8
Subscription The subscription/plan offers reasonable customization. You're able to adjust or cancel your membership with ease. 8
Customer Service How quickly customer service responds to queries, the level of detail they provide, and how helpful the team is overall. 9
Sustainability This service is good for the environment and has a low global impact. 10
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