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Got an appetite for audiobooks? Audible has plenty to offer
Not an audiobooks person? Audible might just be good enough to change that.
If you've got an appetite for audiobooks, Audible's unique value proposition is hard to talk-down. The app is easy to use and feature-rich, the pricing system is plenty flexible and the Plus Catalog provides plenty of bonus content if you find yourself running short on credits.
If you’ve listened to a podcast anytime over the last ten years, chances are you've encountered an ad for Amazon’s audiobook subscription service: Audible. However, in the years since the popular audiobook distributor was acquired by Amazon, subscription services have gone from being just one part of your monthly budget to a big part of it. These days, consumers are juggling subscriptions for their access to music, video streaming, access to the internet, online storage and more.
With that in mind, it’s worth asking the question of whether a subscription to Audible provides enough value to justify the cost involved. If you're not already addicted to audiobooks, is there any point squeezing in an audiobook subscription service into your monthly entertainment spend?
How much does Audible cost in Australia?
In Australia, a standard month-to-month membership with Audible will cost you $16.45 per month. Assuming you stay on with Audible for a full year after the 30-day free trial, you’re looking at paying around $197 overall.
For those who are a little more ambitious, there's also a higher subscription tier available that costs $27.45 per month. This tier is more or less identical to the cheaper membership, except you get 2 credits each month rather than just one.
Paying for a year of Audible in advance is another way to save. A standard annual plan costs $164.50 and includes 12 credits to spend as you wish. This works out to be around $3 cheaper than the cost of paying month-to-month each month, for a total of around $33 saved each year.
Last but not least, the most expensive Audible plan available costs $274.60 annually and nets you 24 credits to spend. This represents around $5 saved each month compared to the $27.60 monthly plan and $55 saved over the course of a full year.
Cost per month
Cost per year
|1 credit per month||$16.45||$197|
|2 credits per month||$27.60||331|
|12 credits per year||$13.70||$164.50|
|24 credits per year||$22.80||$274.60|
All told, Audible is more expensive than music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, but slightly cheaper than the most expensive tier of Netflix. It’s pricey enough that I wouldn’t say you can set and forget about it, but the economics of it are easy enough to like.
Check out the table below for a sense of how Audible sits relative to other audiobook services.
Number of titles
|400,000+||Starts at $16.45||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||2-month free trial|
|5500+||Starts at $19.99||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||7-day free trial|
|300,000+||Starts at $13.99||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||30 day free trial|
|300,000+||Starts at $16.45||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||30 day free trial|
Audible plans and features
Audible has been the English-speaking part of the internet’s premier supplier of audiobooks for about two decades, and while the service has changed in various ways over that period of time the fundamental business model remains more or less the same.
The basic gist of it is that you pay Audible a monthly fee in exchange for a credit that can be redeemed for any premium audiobook available on the service. Each month you stick with Audible, you get another credit. However, credits expire after a year if they aren’t used.
Audiobooks bought via Audible can be listened to via the Audible app, which is available on both iOS and Android. Audible audiobooks can also be listened to via Alexa speakers, most web browsers, selected Kindle eReaders, the Sonos app and even the Apple Watch.
Audible also let you download the audio files for any purchases, which feels like a rarity in today’s streaming dominated landscape. That said, the files come in a propitiatory AAX format. Apple Books and iTunes support this codec. Playback of AAX files on Windows and Android is a little trickier, though not impossible.
If you’re the kind of person who listens to a lot of audiobooks, the main strength of the Audible library is its size. Unless what you're after is truly obscure, you'll probably be able to find something neat to listen to here. What's more, unless you’re listening to more than one audiobook each month, there’s clear value here versus buying audiobooks outright either here or elsewhere.
Once you’ve redeemed your monthly credit on an audiobook, you’re able to listen to and download it as many times as you want and will still have access to it even if you cancel your subscription later down the line. This quirk of Audible’s business model adds real staying power to the service and makes it a little bit more generous than many other monthly subscriptions.
If that single credit is insufficient for your auditory appetites, audiobooks on Audible can be bought directly for the list price. This varies widely, so it's usually just smarter and cheaper to upgrade to a more expensive Audible plan.
Audible app and library of content
Beyond just letting you listen to your audiobooks, the Audible app also supports a number of features like bookmarks and notes, letting you mark down annotations as you work through a given text. None of these are particularly revolutionary, but they're pretty decent nice-to-haves.
The Audible also supports offline playback, with most books able to be downloaded on a chapter by chapter basis - letting you minimise the drain on your monthly data allowance.
As for the size of the library, Audible currently offers around 400,000 titles to choose from. Most of these are in English, but the service does include a modest amount of French, Spanish and Chinese language titles. All told, this puts it about 100,000 titles ahead of its closest rival.
What's more, a not insignificant chunk of this library is also included in The Plus Catalogue.
Accessible to active Audible members, the Plus Catalogue is a selection of Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts that cost nothing to download but can only be listened to by active Audible members. This perk adds a clear bucket of extra value to the monthly subscription, and yet another reason to stick with the service. Some of the original titles here like It Burns, Riot Act and Nut Jobs are good enough that they almost justify the subscription cost associated with Audible on their own.
The final perk worth mentioning here is that Audible members sometimes get access to exclusive member-only deals, letting them save on the odd audiobook. This is another half-decent, but given the baseline generosity associated with an Audible membership, I’ve yet to make much of it during my years as a subscriber.
Is Audible worth the money?
Audible isn’t the only game in town when it comes to audiobooks. Audiobooks.com has a library that’s almost just as large (and offers a more generous free trial), many local libraries offer audiobook borrowing via apps like Libby and Scribd offers a more Netflix-style buffet option. Still, there’s something to be said for the simple and appealing setup here.
Audible combines a huge library with a robust app to predictably delightful results. Unless you’re the kind of heavy audiobook listener who can yield more value from the volume-driven alternatives available elsewhere, it’s the right amount of audiobook for the right price.