Audible is one of the most popular platforms for listening to books, but how exactly does it work?
Audiobooks are convenient; you can listen to them in several situations, such as your morning commute or when you're going for a run. The ever-growing popularity of audiobooks has seen the profile of Amazon's audiobook service, Audible, become more prominent.
But how does Audible work, and what kind of subscriptions can you get? We'll discuss both of these topics, plus much more, below.
Audible is the platform from which Amazon produces and sells audiobooks. You can purchase them without a subscription; alternatively, you can borrow them for streaming if you have a subscription (covered in greater detail below).
Do you have to pay for books on Audible? In short, yes. Subscription models come with a set monthly fee, but the purchase price for titles can vary widely. The Sherlock Holmes collection as read by Stephen Fry, for instance, costs a staggering $82.77. However, others cost much less—and a handful are actually free from the outset.
Audible's size and popularity means that most audiobooks are available on the platform. Some are even exclusive to it. You aren't limited to audiobooks, either; Audible includes other forms of media, such as podcasts and tracks you can listen to while meditating.
With Audible, there are two tiers: Audible Plus and Premium Plus.
The former costs $7.95 per month and gives you unlimited streaming access to the titles in the Plus catalog, which number about 11,000. These tend to be the older or less popular audiobooks. On the other hand, you have Premium Plus, which costs almost double but allows you to purchase one audiobook per month. That audiobook can come from the entire rest of the Audible store (almost 450,000 titles). You also get the same streaming access to the Plus catalog.
Essentially, the difference between the two tiers is that for Premium Plus, you're paying an extra $7 per month to buy any audiobook for permanent ownership. Which subscription you go for will depend heavily on the amount of audiobook content you consume, as well as whether you want to be able to keep the books when you're finished, and the kind of books you listen to.
Note, too, that a subscription isn't actually necessary for audiobook purchases: you can get them from a book's page on Amazon just like any other format (see below). If you're a less frequent audiobook consumer, this is probably the best option for you, particularly since you can make huge savings by buying the Kindle format of a book in a bundle at the same time.
To illustrate with an example, purchasing Holly Black's excellent YA fantasy The Cruel Prince as an eBook for $8.14 reduces the audiobook to $8.99, as opposed to $35.81 without the eBook. These prices are even cheaper in the UK.
Once you've got your audiobook, the best two ways to listen to it are on a Kindle device or through the Audible app.
Most Kindles (especially the newer ones) don't have headphone jacks, so Bluetooth earphones are a necessity if that's how you want to listen to them. Your Kindle is also going to be heavier than your phone or iPod; you can't exactly go for a run toting an e-reader. So overall, the Kindle method is better for when you're just listening around the house and don't have to go anywhere.
There is one great pro to listening on your Kindle. Whispersync is an Amazon feature which lets you switch easily between reading a book and listening to the audiobook if you own both, so you can always pick up in one format wherever you left off with the other. That function works more seamlessly on Kindles, where audiobooks are integrated into your e-book library without the need to install a separate app. As soon as you purchase a title of either format, it all just shows up on the same device.
On any other device, the Kindle and Audible apps are separate. So to get access to your audiobooks you do have to take the extra step of downloading the Audible app (shown above), but it's available for almost any device you'd care to listen on.
Apple and Android are a given; you can also hook it up so an Alexa device reads your audiobooks, or even stream directly from your computer through the Audible website. Moreover, you can get Google Home to read your audiobooks for you.
Make sure you've fully downloaded an audiobook onto your device before you head out for that run! To save space (audiobook file sizes can be pretty big), Amazon tends to store them in the cloud—ready for downloading at the moment they're actually needed. If you're going out somewhere without Wi-Fi access, or just don't want to waste data, you'll need to make sure the book is downloaded first.
Listening to your Audible audiobooks is pretty simple, regardless of how you choose to do so. Clicking on the book's cover in your Kindle library will download and play it straight away.
The same applies when you use the Audible app on your phone, as you can see from the screenshot in the previous section.
Stream from the Audible website by logging in and clicking Library at the top. This brings up a list of the titles you have access to, and you can select Listen now to play them straightaway. Note that, while you can download owned audiobooks via the Download button, this feature isn't available for titles you've just borrowed from the Plus catalog for streaming.
It can be difficult initially to work out which subscription model is best for you, or how to bundle your purchases in such a way that you've got the cheapest possible audiobook price. But once that's done, and you have the audiobook in your hands, getting started with listening is pretty simple. And the versatility of the app means you can listen pretty much anywhere, while listening via an actual Kindle offers an impressive level of integration.
Namera previously wrote for Book Riot and now covers entertainment technology for MUO, particularly relating to reading. She graduated with an English degree and is currently in law school. Hobbies include listening to true crime podcasts, reviewing books, and petting her cat Tiggy.
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