[Note: This story has been updated on 5/4/2020 to clarify subscription information.]
Audiobooks are an attractive option for many people looking for something to take up their attention while they shelter at home. Where can audiobooks be purchased and how much do they cost? Amazon’s Audible is a very popular audiobooks vendor but whether it’s right for you depends on cost and how often you’re likely to listen. You may not be sure how many books you’ll consume every month and you pay for books whether you listen to them or not because Audible is a subscription service.
If you’d like to try Audible, you can subscribe on its homepage but you won’t find detailed information about what you get for your subscription fee or the different subscription plans on offer. That information can be found elsewhere on the website but it’s not accessible from the homepage.
The Audible homepage displays two links that invite your subscription. The page informs you a subscription gives you a 30 day free trial and a free book (two free books if you’re an Amazon Prime member). The cost is $14.95 per month after the trial ends. What are you buying with your $14.95? The homepage doesn’t tell you and it doesn’t link to a page where you can find out. Are there cheaper options available? There are, but there’s no way to discover what they are from the homepage.
If you want to know how an Audible subscription works and the subscription plans that are offered before you subscribe you have to leave the homepage and get to Audible’s (or Amazon’s) help pages with a Google search. Here is some of the basic information Audible doesn’t tell you on its homepage that you’ll probably want to know before you subscribe.
What do you get for your monthly subscription fee?
Subscriptions buy credits. A credit is good for one audiobook of any price. How many credits you get each month depends on which plan you have (more on this below). Credits can be stockpiled because they roll over if you don’t use them. However, they expire 12 months after the date they were purchased. You can use credits to give audiobooks as gifts.
You keep any audiobooks you’ve purchased if you cancel your subscription but you lose unused credits. You can avoid throwing away the money you paid for unused credits by cashing them in before you cancel.
A subscription lets you buy an audiobook outright with a 30% discount off the regular price. Audible’s regular prices are generally high and even with the 30% discount you may be able to buy the book for less money from a different vendor.
Subscribers are also offered a monthly selection of free Audible Originals, a discounted Daily Deal, free audio shows and podcasts, and free subscriptions to the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
Audible has several subscription plans that you’re not told about before you subscribe
What subscription plans are available?
Audible advertises four subscription plans that vary on how many credits you buy each month and whether you pay by the month or the year. Gold plans give you one credit a month, Platinum plans give you two. There’s also a rental service called Audible Escape that lets you listen to up to 10 romance titles at once for $12.95/month if you don’t have an Audible subscription or $6.95/month if you do (or if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription).
Here’s additional information about how much a credit costs under each plan and the yearly cost for monthly subscription that the descriptions of the subscription plans on Audible’s help page doesn’t give you.
As can be seen in the table, you pay the most per credit with the only plan offered or mentioned on the Audible subscription webpage.
Audible’s subscription offer
Simply put, Audible invites you to take on a monthly subscription without telling you what you’re getting for your money or whether more economically attractive alternatives are available. Why Audible offers subscriptions like this is puzzling. It’s a reputable vendor with a massive and diverse library of audiobooks. If you listen to an average of two audiobooks a month, the yearly Platinum plan is a good deal. It seems to me Audible’s sales pitch would be stronger if it told people up front what they are buying into with a subscription and gave prospective subscribers easy access to additional information that could help them decide whether to sign on with Audible or not.

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