What is Audible? An In-depth Look at Amazon’s Audiobook Service

If you’re an avid reader who struggles to find the time to indulge in books, have you ever considered listening to them instead? Enter Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon that specializes in selling and producing spoken audio content. While Audible offers a diverse range of material, including radio and TV programs, its primary claim to fame lies in its vast collection of digital audiobooks. Gone are the days of “books on tape” – Audible provides a convenient and immersive experience by offering audiobooks that can be enjoyed with just a push of a download button.

Unveiling the Journey of Audible

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Audible made its debut as an independent company back in 1995, introducing a digital audio player for consumers to enjoy their favorite audiobooks. However, due to technological limitations at the time, the device could only store a mere two hours of audio content in Audible’s proprietary format. The company faced a setback when its CEO, Andrew Huffman, tragically passed away from a sudden heart attack. Nevertheless, Audible persevered and, in 2003, struck a deal with Apple to provide books for iTunes.

By 2008, Audible expanded further by venturing into audiobook production under the Audible Frontiers imprint. This caught the attention of Amazon, which later acquired the company for a whopping $300 million. Since then, Audible has solidified its position as one of the internet’s premier sources for digital audiobooks. It has also become the largest producer of Dow label audiobooks globally. Thanks to the acquisition, users can now effortlessly log in to Audible using their Amazon credentials, making the experience even more seamless. Additionally, the service offers a wide selection of ad-free podcasts.

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How Much Does an Audiobook Cost on Audible?

Audible boasts an impressive collection of over 200,000 audio programs, cementing its status as America’s biggest audiobook producer and retailer. Purchasing content from Audible is straightforward, with options to pay the usual monetary amount you would find on most online retailers. However, Audible also provides a credit system through its subscription plans. Subscribing to Audible grants you one or two credits per month, which can be used to access most audiobooks. Some more substantial works may require two credits, while shorter works may only require a fraction of a credit. Subscribers also have the option to purchase additional books without using credits, receiving a $30 discount. Additionally, Audible offers a free trial for interested users.

Current Audible Membership Plans

  • Audible Plus: For $7.95 per month, this tier grants subscribers unlimited access to Audible Originals, Audiobooks, and Podcasts.
  • Audible Premium Plus: Priced at $14.95 per month, this tier includes a free “premium select title” each month that can be kept as an audiobook, even if you discontinue your Audible membership.

What is Audible? Amazon’s audiobook service explained

Audible – Available Across Various Devices

Audible ensures accessibility across a wide range of devices, as most of its content is protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management), which limits playback to authorized devices only. While you can stream content through the Audible Cloud Player on internet-connected devices, you may want to download the app for a more personalized experience. Here are some devices that support Audible:

  • Windows and Mac computers
  • All functioning Kindles (8th-gen Kindles and newer, as support for older Kindles may be discontinued)
  • All Alexa devices (including Echo devices and compatible car dashboards)
  • Amazon Fire Tablets (with OS 5 or newer)
  • The SanDisk Clip Jam
  • The Bones Milestone 312
  • The Victor Reader Stream
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Quality Matters: What to Expect from Audible Audiobooks

Throughout its existence, Audible has transitioned through various audio formats, such as Format 2, Format 3, and Format 4. However, the company eventually discontinued these formats and now utilizes an enhanced audio format for all titles. If you’re a returning user, it’s important to note that none of the previous numbered formats will work on the app. You’ll need to re-download them, as the window for direct downloads closed in 2020. Furthermore, Audible allows users to toggle between High Quality and Standard Quality formats in their settings, providing flexibility for managing audiobook size and data streaming limits.

Explore Audible Original Series

In 2015, Audible enlisted the expertise of Eric Nuzum, former vice president of programming at NPR, to help develop new and original content. Though Audible has scaled back its production of original series, several options continue to thrive. Notable mentions include “Where Should We Begin?,” a series that grants listeners a behind-the-scenes peek into therapist Esther Perel’s office, where couples navigate various sexual issues. Another compelling Audible Original is “Sincerely, X,” featuring anonymous individuals delivering Ted Talks. The series covers topics like a doctor grappling with the belief of having caused a patient’s death and a Silicon Valley executive’s harrowing experience with a mental breakdown. Additional Audible originals include “Ponzi Supernova,” an investigative podcast that delves into the infamous $65 billion Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, and “West Cork,” a captivating true-crime series that examines an unresolved murder case from 1996 in West Cork, Ireland.

Frequently Asked Questions About Audible

Is Audible free with a Prime membership?
No, Amazon’s Audible service is not included for free with a Prime subscription. However, some e-books available in the Prime Reading library do come with Audible narration. Prime members can avail a trial subscription, which offers two free audio credits. After the 30-day trial period, regular payment is required, similar to other subscribers.

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Are books on Audible free?
While Audible primarily operates as a storefront, it does offer a limited selection of free audiobooks. Additionally, Audible Stories is a program offering children access to a library of free content available in up to eight different languages. However, please note that even with a subscription, access to audiobooks is often limited based on the Audible credit system.

Is there a cheaper alternative to Audible?
If you’re seeking alternatives to Audible, there are several options available, such as AudioBooksNow and audiobooks.com. Overdrive provides access to free library audiobooks, while LibriVox offers free public domain audiobooks. Among the alternatives, AudioBooksNow appears to be the most affordable choice.

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