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Audible review (2020): Is it worth it? My verdict

We listen to podcasts, music, interviews, and so much more all the time, but when was the last time you listened to an audiobook?

As the number one audiobook platform on the internet and a library of just about half a million audiobooks, Audible was my go-to choice when I wanted to try audiobooks out.

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about Audible to decide whether or not this audiobook membership platform is right for you, from why you might want to try Audible (and audiobooks) out in the first place, to everything the platform has to offer.

Why I Gave Audible A Shot

Books have always been a major part of my life.

While other kids were out playing games and hanging out, I preferred spending my time reading books by Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, and C.S. Lewis from cover to cover.

I’d be lying if I said I had no aspirations of writing my own fantastical tales, with dreams of being a famous published author.

And it’s not for the fame or the name recognition or even just seeing my books in the bookstores; it’s just for the feeling of creating entire worlds with my own imagination and the words on the page and sharing those ideas with anyone willing to pick up a book.

But life gets in the way, and one thing leads to another and another and another.

After university and starting my career and getting into a serious relationship, finding the minutes to sit down and read is harder than it’s ever been.

I’ve had this conversation with every friend and colleague who told me that they had a favorite book or that they used to love reading, and we all experience the same difficulties – it just feels so impossible to consistently do as an adult.

And I know what you’re thinking – I’m just making excuses, right?

Sometimes I worry that my brain might just have gotten lazy and that all these feelings are just a bad excuse, and maybe I just don’t like reading as much as I used to.

But I know this isn’t the case – when I do get the rare chance to pick up a book and truly immerse myself for a few hours, I always remember just how much I love this hobby.

My love for reading is definitely still inside of me. People always say “you can make time for it if you really want to do it”, but reading isn’t exactly the kind of hobby you can pick up, start and pause whenever you feel like it.

The best reading comes when you have an entire afternoon or evening booked entirely for your reading pleasure, with the silence and space to get into those worlds with no interruption.

But even then, texts and emails and calls from clients and partners always seem to drag you away from the book, until you’re scrolling mindlessly through social media again.

Like most people on the Internet, I’ve known about Audible for a long time now; it seems like they’ve been around for ages.

But it was a friend who recommended it to me a few months ago when I was complaining about never having the time or space to read.

They said they were having the same problem until they gave Audible a shot, which helped them rediscover their passion for reading. 

And honestly, after considering it for a while, it just made sense.

I already listen to podcasts while driving to and from work every day, and I have tons of little gaps in the day when I can’t really squeeze anything in besides a quick few minutes on the phone – waiting in line at the bank, waiting for my kid to get out of class, or just dozing off before bed every night. 

Here’s the way I saw it: over the years and because of the hundreds of responsibilities of adulthood, I had lost the habit of reading despite still loving it as much as I did twenty, thirty years ago.

Audible could be my path allowing me to become a reader again, just by showing me what I’m missing whenever I have the time to do it. 

So I gave it a shot, and I haven’t looked back since.

What Is Audible, Exactly? 

The easiest way to understand Audible is by comparing it to the Kindle: Audible is to audiobooks as the Kindle is to ebooks.

Owned and operated by Amazon like the Kindle, Audible is the biggest audiobook subscription service you can find.

They offer several membership plans, including:

  Gold Monthly: $14.95 per month for 1 monthly credit

  Platinum Monthly: $22.95 per month for 2 monthly credits

  Gold Annual Special: $119.50 per year for 12 annual credits

  Platinum Annual: $229.50 per year for 24 annual credits

The package you choose determines the number of credits you get per month, with each credit giving you access to an audiobook.

If you don’t want to sign up for a membership and just try out an individual audiobook to start with, that works, too; Audible allows anyone (member or not) to buy individual audiobooks, with prices ranging from $10 to $25, although you can save tons of money buying credits and deals as a member.

So how exactly does Audible work?

You can think of it like any other bookstore, except you’re dealing with audiobooks instead of books.

There’s a huge library you can browse with all the genres of books you might want, including some original Audible books that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.

You also get everything you would expect from a normal store, including surprise deals, seasonal offers, and the ability to return books you don’t like.

All of this can be done either through Audible’s online store – accessible with any device that can connect to a browser – or through the official Audible app, which is compatible with computers, cell phones, tablets, and Alexa.

A common question about Audible is whether or not you have any perks by being an Amazon Prime member.

Firstly, while Amazon owns Audible, they don’t include an Audible membership with the Amazon Prime membership.

However, Amazon Prime members do get the awesome perk of having free access to a selection of Audible Originals as well as a number of extra audiobooks available through the Prime Reading option. 

Who Is Audible For? 

Audible is for everyone. There is no one out there who wouldn’t find their lives enriched with an Audible membership, because Audible doesn’t cater to any one niche or demographic.

Audible offers an experience that any type of person can enjoy. 

The Audible library contains nearly half a million audiobooks, and that number will only continue to grow as Amazon continues to expand.

There is no audiobook market as rich and densely packed as Audible, meaning no matter what genre you might fancy, there is sure to be thousands of options waiting for your particular interests. 

Audible has over 20 categories, including:

  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Biographies and Memoirs
  • Business and Careers
  • Children’s Audiobooks
  • Computers and Technology
  • Education and Learning
  • Erotica
  • Health and Wellness
  • History
  • Home and Garden
  • LGBT
  • Literature and Fiction
  • Money and Finance
  • Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense
  • Politics and Social Sciences
  • Relationships, Parenting, and Personal Development
  • Religion and Spirituality
  • Romance
  • Science and Engineering
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Sports and Outdoors
  • Teen and Young Adult
  • Travel and Tourism

This means they’ve got anything you might want. Are you a fan of graphic novels like The Sandman, or do you want to improve your social and business skills? Are you in the mood for World War II history, or would you like to get an in-depth experience in the biography of a famous person?

No matter what your interests may be, Audible has the answer. 

Who Is the Team Behind Audible?

If you’re a millennial like me, you’ve probably been hearing about Audible since the early 2000s, but the company was nowhere as big then as it is now.

The company started as a digital audio player in 1995. They introduced the very first audio player, which pretty much makes it the iPod’s ancestor.

Later on Audible would sign an exclusive deal with Apple, which gave iOS users access to an exclusive catalog of books through the iTunes Music Store. 

It was around 2005 to 2006 that I first really heard about Audible, which coincides with the time they launched Audible Air.

At this point, you didn’t have to have an iPhone or an iPod to download audiobooks. I remember a friend gushing about how easy it was to directly transfer downloaded audiobooks onto his old phone. 

Around 2008, news broke that Amazon was buying Audible for a whopping $300 million and the rest is history.

Don Katz, founder and executive chairman of Audible, has partnered up with the US’ biggest retail company to create what will become the world’s biggest producer of all audio content. 

Everything You Get with an Audible Membership

Although you don’t need a membership to buy the audiobooks, I would still recommend signing up for a membership to get access to the exclusive perks.

Here are some of the things you get as a member:

1. Access To Audible Originals

Think of Audible Originals as the exclusive TV shows and movies from Netflix and Hulu, accessible only by their subscribers.

With a subscription, you get access to Audible Originals which is Audible’s extensive library of informational, engaging, and entertaining audio content. 

They’ve published everything from lectures to romance titles, so there’s definitely something for everyone there.

The best thing about the Originals library is that it’s always expanding; every month there’s a new rotation of books to choose from so you’ll never run out of stuff to listen to.

Audible Originals is a great way to discover new content if you’re tired of the adapted titles. Their current hits include the Real Crime and Sincerely X series. 

2. 30% Discount + One to Two Originals A Month 

Even just the basic membership gives you credit for any one Originals title a month. I personally use this to delve into genres I haven’t tried before; the audiobook is technically free anyway and it’s a great way to find out if you like a new kind of writing or not. 

On top of access to the Originals library, members also get a 30% discount on any purchases that don’t involve credits.

If there’s a book that can’t be redeemed by credits or if you want to save your credits on more expensive titles, the 30% really gives you better value for your money. 

3. Better Value Overall 

Speaking of value, you get more out of the credit-based redemption system the more premium your membership is.

The way the membership works is that you get a set amount of credits every month or yearly, which you can use to purchase books. 

One credit is for one audiobook, and these books can be purchased for anywhere from 99 cents to upwards of $20 a pop.

With my current plan, I get 24 credits every year on top of the two free Originals I get every month.

I typically save my credits for the more expensive books and just buy audiobooks in the $5 to $10 range. It’s a great way to expand your library without spending too much too fast. 

4. Exclusive Add-Ons Like News and Guided Meditation 

Here’s one of the perks I really enjoy about my subscription. I can subscribe to news publications like CNN and Fox News and get the latest updates without having to turn on the TV or surf the internet.

I like it because I can get news updates whenever I want, without feeling like I’m transitioning from one site or one device to another one. 

The access to guided meditation and fitness classes is also great. I personally haven’t tried either, but my wife swears by the guided meditation.

She’s currently doing Guided Breathing for Calmness, Awareness, and Love by Bodhipaksa. The audiobooks range from one-off “courses” to weekly classes.

If you’re incredibly busy like my wife and are constantly on-the-go, the meditation audio books might be a great way to keep you stable throughout an otherwise hectic week. 

5. Listen to Audible in Spanish 

Having a membership means you can listen to Audible in Spanish. There are hundreds of books narrated in Spanish, with more coming on the horizon.

It’s just a cool little detail that adds to the entire experience, especially if you prefer listening to titles in Spanish. 

My Personal Experience with Audible

I’ve always been an avid reader and writer but life can get so busy that something as simple as reading becomes a luxury.

I tried Audible because I wanted to read again, that much is true, but I also gave a try Audible because I wanted a more productive way to spend my time. 

We’re bombarded with so much low-quality TV shows, podcasts, and music that it’s so easy to go on autopilot and put something in the background while you run or finish a project.

I used to drown out the sounds of overhyped podcasts while driving to work just to fill the silence. Audible has since changed my daily commutes.

Now I spend the 30-minute drive to the office listening to a new book. And not just hearing in the background either – actually listening to it and enjoying my time. 

I think for busy people, Audible is a great way to reconnect with amazing storytelling or just learn something new and interesting. 

Audible is also incredibly flexible. If you want to slow down and savor every minute, you could slow down the playback speed to really stay in the zone.

Or if your brain is feeling a little more active than usual, you could listen to 1.25 to 1.50 times the normal playback speed.

I don’t always adjust the listening speed but it’s nice knowing you have the option when you need it. 

Ultimately, I think what I love about Audible is just how the platform redefines a reader’s relationship with books. 

With Audible, reading isn’t a chore, you’re not locked into a commitment where you have to sit down and turn page after page after page.

It becomes a well-rounded experience, and you can really immerse yourself into the material without taking yourself out from the real world. 

I recently finished listening to Stephen King reading his very own “On Writing”, which is one of the first books I read when I first started writing.

Reading words on the page was one thing, but listening to King narrate it for me was an experience in and of itself. 

Is Audible worth it?

It definitely is. I can go on and on and on about how much money you save (which you do) but I think the real value of the app is just how it gives readers the space and energy to start reading again in a modern world where silence is scarce. 

Check out Audible here.

(I also just reviewed Jim Kwik’s speed reading course. Check it out here.)

Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.
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