Audible Review: What’s to Like – and Not to Like

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If you love to read, or if you wish you had more time to read, you may want to know more about Audible. Audible is an Amazon company service that provides subscriptions to audio-books.

Why People Love Audible

One of the really cool things about the service is that Audible’s book selections are often read by well-known book narrators, actors and actresses. Some of the notable narrators include Wil Wheaton, Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson.

Audible members downloaded over 2 billion hours of reading material in 2016, which means a lot of people are really loving Audible.

In fact, Well Kept Wallet founder, Deacon Hayes, has subscribed to Audible for a few years now. He finds it to be a highly valuable learning tool.

He said he uses Audible audio books to increase his knowledge about finances, business management and life management. Then he passes what he learns down to others via this blog, in his book, You Can Retire Early!, and other sharing opportunities that cross his path.

Listening to audiobooks is becoming more and more popular as people search to find ways to be able to learn and entertain themselves via reading despite the highly busy schedules most people seem to have in today’s world.

But is Audible really all it’s cracked up to be? I thought I’d do my own research and find out.



Audible is a great way to listen to those books you’ve been meaning to get around to. The credits are flexible and easy to use, plus a free trial let’s you know if the service is right for your before spending any money.

How Does Audible Work?

Audible works like this: you sign up for a membership via your Amazon account. Depending on the type of membership you choose, you get credits for free audio books each month and also have access to buy additional books within each month of your membership.

How Much Does Audible Cost?

The membership costs vary and there are essentially two different memberships to choose from: the Gold Membership and the Platinum Membership.

The Gold Membership

The Gold Membership costs $14.95 per month. Gold members get 1 credit per month (a credit is good for any audio book purchase, regardless of price), and a 30% discount on any additional audiobook purchases.

If you pay in advance and get the Gold Annual Membership, you only pay $149.50, essentially getting two months for free.

The Platinum Membership

Audible’s Platinum Membership costs $22.95 per month, however you get 2 credits each month instead of just one. This means you can get two audio book purchases, regardless of price, for free each month. You also get a 30% discount on any additional audiobooks you purchase.

The Platinum Membership can also be purchased at an annual price discount of $229.50, in essence giving you two free months of service.

What Types of Devices Can You Listen On?

You can listen to your Audible audio books on several different devices, including:

With so many listening devices to choose from, you can listen to Audible pretty much anywhere: in your car as you’re commuting, at the gym or when you’re out for a run, hike or bike, at the dentist’s office or other places as you’re waiting for your appointment, or anywhere in your home.

I love the thought of having an audio book playing while I’m cleaning the house or doing laundry. The convenience of Audible makes it really attractive.

What are Some of the Pros About Having an Audible Membership?

There are a few different features about Audible that I found enticing. Read below for a summary of each.

Audible Offers a Free 30-Day Trial

I love free trial offers. With Audible’s free 30-day trial, you can try out the service to see whether or not it’s for you. If it is, great; you’ve just gained yourself access to thousands of audio-books to listen to at your convenience. If not, you can cancel your membership within 30 days at no charge to you.

They’ve Got a Wide Variety of Book Titles and Genres to Choose From

Audible offers over 180,000 listening titles in a variety of genres. Genres include:

  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Bios and Memoirs
  • Business
  • Classics
  • Comedy
  • Drama and Poetry
  • Fiction
  • Health and Fitness
  • History
  • Kids
  • Language Instruction
  • Mysteries and Thrillers
  • Religion and Spirituality
  • Sci-Fi and Fantasy
  • Self-Development
  • Sports
  • Teens

And more.  You should be able to find book titles in pretty much any genre you can think of on Audible.

You Can Buy Audio Books via a Membership or Without a Membership

So, with Audible you have a couple of choices; you can buy audio-books independently, or you can purchase them as a member. This qualifies you for an automatic 30% discount on any audio book you wish to purchase.

For instance, if you choose to buy a book that costs $10, you’ll only have to pay $7 for that book as a member.

Non-members pay the full price, but they don’t have to pay a monthly fee either. Whether or not it’s worth it to become a member can depend on a couple of different things.

The first variable lies in the number of books you buy. If you’re only buying a few books a year, the 30% discount and free credits that come with the membership may not add up to be enough to cover the monthly membership fee.

The second variable lies in the cost of the books you’re purchasing. If you’re only buying primarily $3 and $4 books during the year, you may run into the same issue where the cost of the monthly membership isn’t beating the cost of your 30% savings on the lower priced books you’re buying.

It’s going to take some analytics of both your reading habits and your spending habits to determine whether or not membership is beneficial to you. But, it’s nice knowing you have a choice about whether or not to become a member and that choosing not to do so doesn’t keep you from using Audible.

There are Varying Options for Many Books

This was a feature of Audible that I found very enticing: many times, you’ll have the option of buying not just the entire audiobook, but a summary of the book for a lower price.

For instance, one of the books currently on my “to read” list is Chris Voss’ Never Split the Difference. When I looked up the title on Audible I had three choices:

  • The entire book at an 8 hour, 7-minute read length for $27.37 (without the 30%-member discount)
  • A summarized version at a 1 hour, 8-minute length for $3.65
  • A second summarized version at a 28-minute read length for $3.95
  • A third summarized version at a 28-minute read length (offered by a different author) for $3.95

Not only do the varying options have the potential to save you money, but they can also save you time. You may not feel like putting 8 hours into a book title, but with the option to purchase a summarized version you can cut your listening time down dramatically, giving you freedom to move on to your next audio book selection while still getting a summarized version of the book.

You Can Change the Listening Speeds of the Books

This is a feature that I think many people will find beneficial. You can listen to your audio books on Audible at normal speed (1x), you can slow it down to half the normal speed, or you can speed it up to twice the normal speed.

Since everyone listens at a different pace, this is a great option to have available. Not only that, our minds work differently on different days. On a clear, stress-free day I can listen at a normal pace, but on a tough day I may want to slow it down a bit if comprehension is cloudy. This can be a great feature people who may have trouble with reading comprehension as well.

Ad-Free Offline Listening

Yep, no ads sprinkled within or around your listening choices. Since the books you purchase get downloaded onto your device, you listen offline and avoid ads completely.

Bonus: if your Internet connection or Wi-Fi connection are down you can still enjoy your audiobooks.

Your Books are Yours to Keep

Once you purchase an audio book from Audible, it’s yours to keep forever; even if you cancel your Audible membership.

Your Audible Credits Can Rollover

As a Gold Member, you get 12 credits per year and as a Platinum Member you get 24 credits per year for free book purchases. But what if you don’t purchase 12 or 24 books during the year? What happens to your free credits?

Luckily, Audible allows for some of those credits to roll over into the next year’s available credits.

  • Gold Monthly members can roll over 5 credits per year
  • Gold Annual members can roll over 6 credits per year
  • Platinum Monthly members can roll over 10 credits per year
  • Platinum Annual members can roll over 12 credits per year

Note: the maximum number of credits you can have on your account in any given membership period (be it monthly or annually) is limited to the maximum roll over amount.

This means that if you roll over 6 credits at the beginning of your newest Gold monthly membership term (your rollover limit of five plus your one from the previous month), you’ll lose one of those credits as you earn another one in the new month. In other words, the credits do have a maximum and are not cumulative past that maximum.

You Can Buy More Credits

Audible states that depending on which membership plan you’re on, you do have the ability to buy more credits if you use all of your current credits and want to purchase more books.

However, they don’t state how much the extra credits cost to purchase except to say that the price varies based on the type of membership you have.

WhisperSync for Voice

Audible has a cool feature called WhisperSync for Voice that will benefit Audible members who own Kindle readers. With WhisperSync for Voice you can vacillate between listening on your phone (or other device) and your Kindle, and WhisperSync Voice will hold your place in the book you’re listening to.

Note: this feature only works if the book you’re reading is available both on Kindle and on Audible.

A Great Refund Policy

So, what happens if you purchase an audio book through Audible and don’t like it, or you have technical problems with the book?

Audible has what’s called their Great Listen Guarantee. The Great Listen Guarantee is only available to active members, and specifies that you can return any book you’re not happy with if you’ve purchased it during the last 365 days, for any reason.

If you’ve purchased the book using credits you’ll be refunded those credits, and if you’ve purchased the book using money you’ll be refunded the money.

Don’t get too excited though; if you’re asking for too many refunds, Audible has the right to limit the number of refunds you request in any given time period.

P.S. You also have the option to exchange your book instead of get a refund.

Memberships Can Be Placed On Hold

If you’re having a particularly busy season and you have a monthly Audible membership plan, you can place your Audible membership on hold one time per year for a time period of 1 to 3 months.

A Great Way to Prompt Yourself to Read More

Okay, you’re not technically reading, but you are gaining knowledge and/or entertainment. As a writer, I find that reading inspires me to be a better writer.

As a person committed to self-development, I love the idea of having thousands of self-improvement books at my fingertips instead of just a list of “I should really read (insert recommended book title here) someday.

As a parent, I love the idea of having audio books readily available for the kids to read. Since kids these days are so into their electronics, Audible provides a way for me to offer my kids some educational fun that fits in with the times.

Audible Gives a Nice Summary of Each Book on The Site

I loved that as I browsed through the available audiobook titles on Audible that I was given a thorough summary of each book when I clicked on the title. Many of the summaries are three and four paragraphs long, which gives a decent amount of information for potential readers to make an informed buying decision.

Related Book Recommendations

Also, following each summary you will get recommendations of other books by the same author, or other books by the same narrator. This is a nice feature in that it gives you more options for book purchasing by authors and narrators you found likeable.

Member Ratings for Books

When you click on a book title, another feature you’ll find is a member ratings section. The top part of this section gives you a quick overview of the ratings where you can see how many stars (between 1 and 5) a member reader gave the book.

Down below that are more expansive reviews with comments. Members rate the books in three categories: overall, performance and story. The summaries give a detailed opinion of what members may or may not have liked about the book.

As with most other Amazon purchases, these member ratings are a great way to get a real person opinion that can help you decide if the book may be for you.

What are Some of the Cons of Audible?

As with any service or product there are both pros and cons. Here are some of the features about Audible that I wasn’t crazy about.

Credits Can Expire

As I mentioned in the previous section, membership credits can expire. This means you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t purchase the books fast enough to use up all available credits.

You Miss Out on the Look and Feel of An Actual Book

This is a big one for me. I love holding a book in my hand. I love turning the pages. I love the smell of the paper.

I know this might not be a big deal to many of those who love to read, but for me one of the things that makes reading so attractive to me is the thought of curling up on the couch with a blanket, a cup of tea and a good book in my hands.

With an audiobook, I wouldn’t be able to have that tangible reading experience.

The Books Can Be Expensive

This is not the case with all of the audio books Audible offers, but in some cases the prices were quite a bit higher than what I found them for online.

For instance, the Audible audio book version of Never Split the Difference (the book I mentioned earlier) was $27.37 regular price on Audible, and $19.16 at the member discount price.

If I go directly to Amazon, I can buy a hard cover copy at $16.70 currently (plus shipping if I don’t meet the free shipping minimum purchase amount), a paperback version for $13.00 or the Kindle version for $16.74.

Being a frugal person, I might check the prices of the books I’m interested in reading on Audible with the prices on Amazon and elsewhere before making a purchasing decision.

Credits Will Be Lost if You Cancel Your Membership

You are free to cancel your Audible membership at any time, however if you cancel without using your available Audible credits, those credits will disappear. So, if you have an Audible membership and are considering cancelling your membership, make sure you use up your credits by purchasing more books before you request your cancellation.

Is Audible for You?

The answer to that question depends on a number of factors and will vary with each person reading this. The first question has to be how many audiobooks do you realistically think you’ll listen to?

If you are certain you’ll take full advantage of your free time as you commute, wait for appointments or take advantage of some down time and use Audible regularly, the service has a much higher chance of being beneficial to you.

However, if like many memberships, it will just sit on your devices unused, you’ll be wasting a semi-hefty (depending on your opinion) amount of cash. Personally, throwing away $15 or $23 a month that I could be using to achieve my financial goals is to me is a huge deal – however to you it might not be an issue.

Also, the price of the books you find yourself buying is going to make a difference as well. If you’re browsing through the list of titles and finding that all of your favorite book choices are on the high end of the purchase price spectrum, you may be better off simply purchasing the books from Amazon directly at a lower price.

Conversely, if you find that a lot of the book titles you’re interested in are priced lower – or have cheaper summarized versions you’d be happy to read instead of the entire book – you could save some serious money with Audible.

There’s also the convenience factor. If you are a voracious e-book reader, Audible is nice in that there are so many options for listening devices. The wide variety of options means you can listen to your Audible book selections just about anywhere.

If you have a lot of alone time on your commute, as you work out or wherever, and you’re committed to using that time as a way to educate or entertain yourself via reading, the service could be worth its weight in gold.

As I mentioned before, Well Kept Wallet founder, Deacon Hayes, has been using Audible for years now and finds the service highly valuable. He’s always got a book playing as he commutes to his daily obligations and appointments.

If you’re willing to be sure to give your audiobook listening choices a high priority and play them when you can, Audible’s service will most likely be a nice benefit to you.

If you’re a big fan of audio book reading, Audible could be a great way for you to amass a large selection of audio books in your audio book library. You’ll have to browse through the title selections and work the numbers to figure out if the prices make a good deal for you, but there’s a lot to love about Audible.

Have you ever tried Audible or similar audio-book membership programs?


10 responses to “Audible Review: What’s to Like – and Not to Like”

  1. Shabbeer Hussain says:

    Please provide more details.

  2. Tara Gopal says:

    This is an excellent article. I loved all the details, scenarios, pros, and cons. It will help me to make an informed decision. Thank you!

  3. Stacy says:

    Do you have to have an internet connection to listen to audible? It says you can listen to audible ALMOST anywhere. So, I’m guessing not on a plane?

  4. Harold D Goodman says:

    Audible has a silver level membership which they never advertise.

    It is excellent for saving money and getting the same service as the more expensive plans you mention.

    You get one credit toward any book every two months for $14.95. I do this so that I can take my time with books and always have extra credits in place.

    I also use the app Libby. It is a free download. Your local library will allow you to download thousands of audiobooks and listen to them on this app. I listen to most of my audiobooks this way including many that I would have bought on Audible.

    This makes having the silver plan the best since I only use it when I want to take a break from the free audiobooks of Libby. I use cards for two library systems in my area to have a greater selection.

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