We may live in a world where entertainment comes thick and fast and loud from everywhere – music, movies, Netflix, concerts and more. But one thing that hasn’t changed in thousands of years is the way people enjoy a great story, well told. Despite all the advances in technology and rapid shifts in entertainment, books are still seriously big business.
You only need to look at the numbers of copies that are sold of big blockbuster novels to realise that while books don’t have the instant appeal of superhero movies or the latest hits on Spotify, they are an important part of the cultural lives of hundreds of millions of people.
Technology’s helped with that, too. While many would argue there’s no substitute for a book printed on actual paper, avid readers these days have many more options. You can read books on your phone or tablet screen, though lengthy reading sessions starting at a brightly lit display can be annoying. Then there’s e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle – dedicated portable book-reading devices that use a screen specially made to look like ink printed on a page, and readable even in bright sunlight.
Audible Australia Review
All of which is fantastic if you’ve got the time to sit down, relax and read. But what if life’s too busy for that? Or you wish you could pass the time on a long drive with a great story? That’s where audiobooks come in handy – and when it comes to audiobooks, there’s one name above all others that dominates. Audible.
What Makes Audible Different
While audiobooks have been around for decades in various forms and started gaining real popularity in the 1970s when cassettes became common, a long-standing problem with many of the audiobooks on offer was that they, well, sounded a bit dry. Merely hiring a well-spoken person to show up and spend tens of hours reading a book into a microphone is simple enough, but here’s the thing – it’s a performance, and potentially a very complex one. A good audiobook narrator will be someone who’s great at telling stories, bringing the book and its characters to life. That’s something Audible has long specialised in, and as the company has grown into a global audiobook powerhouse (it’s owned by Amazon these days) it’s had a real influence on the way audiobooks are produced.
That’s why these days, if you buy the audiobook of The Handmaid’s Tale on Audible, you’ll get that classic dystopian novel read to you by Elisabeth Moss, who plays the lead character’s role in the TV adaptation. The recently released sequel to that book is read by several notable people, including actress Anne Dodd (Aunt Lydia in the TV version) and author Margaret Atwood herself.
Familiar voices are everywhere on Audible – Stephen Fry reading the complete Sherlock Holmes collection, for example (71 hours of it!) and the entire Harry Potter series. Demi Moore, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Michelle Obama reading their own autobiographies, a genuinely personal touch that a printed book can’t match. In many cases, the actual author of the book reads it to you.
Because Audible’s parent company is Amazon, many audiobooks are linked to their corresponding Kindle eBook in two ways. On the right device (such as one of the latest Kindle readers) you can listen to an audiobook while following along with the words on screen. And across all devices, playing supported audiobooks will update your place to the same location in the Kindle eBook. So you can listen in the car on the way home, then grab your Kindle, head to bed and pick up reading right where the audio left off.
And Audible doesn’t just have audiobooks. With the huge increase in popularity of podcasts, Audible is a perfect fit for some exclusive, member-only podcasts that you can listen to in between books. Audible’s original podcasts are professionally produced series that are completely free to Audible members.
What Audiobooks Does Audible Have?
The question really should be “what audiobooks doesn’t Audible have?” Because no matter what you like reading, it’s probably in their library – to the point where brand new best-selling novels launch in bookstores and the audiobook version launches on Audible on the same day.
If you’re a fan of veteran author Stephen King, for example, then you’ll have a collection of over two hundred audiobooks to choose from. Prefer British fantasy writer Neil Gaiman? There are over 60 audiobooks there, many of them read by Gaiman himself. The bestseller Boy Swallows Universe is available in English or Spanish. And George RR Martin’s entire Song of Ice and Fire series – the books behind Game of Thrones – can be had as a set of audiobooks totalling a phenomenal 221 hours of listening time.
Audible has also been commissioning audio versions of stage and radio plays, which are far more more dramatic – like audio-only movies. And there’s even audiobook versions of popular magazines.
How Much Does Audible Cost?
While anyone can pop onto the Audible site and buy an audiobook immediately, the service is set up more as a subscription-based thing. You get the first month free – including your pick of any audiobook at no charge, along with Audible’s monthly free book selection – both of which you can keep even if you cancel. But if you stick around, it’ll cost you $16.45 per month, which gives you one book credit each month.
With your credit, you can pick any audiobook you want and add it to your permanent library. You don’t have to pick one right away, either – you can roll over up to five credits if you’re waiting on some new releases. But if you want more than one audiobook in a given month, the extras cost only $14.95, regardless of their usual retail price (which can be very high – the Game of Thrones books are usually $32.50 each and the Sherlock Holmes collection mentioned above is $125!)
If you’re not loving any audiobook you choose, you can return it using an automatic process on your account page and pick another one, no questions asked.
Audible’s original podcasts are all free for members, too – so there’s tons to listen to even if you stick to only a single full-sized audiobook each month. There are podcasts covering a huge range of subjects, from true crime stories, to tech news to language to documentaries. There’s even an exclusive podcast with hours of comedy from the Melbourne international Comedy Festival – free of charge for members, like all the others. While avid podcast fans will know all too well that there’s no shortage of excellent free podcasts available through the usual sources, Audible’s tend to be produced to a very high standard and there’s some great stuff there to supplement your audiobook sessions with.One note, though: presumably because Amazon isn’t keen to hand over a percentage of the profits to a third party, while you can browse and sample the vast catalogue of audiobooks on the mobile apps, you can’t actually buy anything. To do that, you’ll have to head to the web site. Anything you buy will immediately appear in your apps ready for listening.
What Devices Does Audible Support?
Originally, Audible sold a proprietary player for listening to their books on the go, but these days your smartphone or tablet serves that purpose perfectly. Audible has apps for iOS and Android devices, as well as Windows and Mac computers – and you can easily pick up listening on a different device since your progress through a book is always saved.
Recent Kindle eBook readers also offer Audible support, though you’ll need a set of Bluetooth headphones to listen, since those devices don’t have a headphone port. For ease of use and portability, your phone or tablet is a far better choice.
Audible – The Pros and Cons
The Verdict – Is Audible Worth It?
While reading books is more popular than ever thanks to the widespread adoption of eBook readers and other portable devices, sometimes we just don’t have the ability to sit still for a few hours reading text off the page. Audiobooks are the perfect solution for that – whether you’re out for a walk down to the shops or in your car driving between cities, having a good story read to you as you do is an absolute treat. And when it comes to audiobooks, Audible is the powerhouse – a company that almost single-handedly popularised listening to your books, it has the biggest library, the best pricing and a well-designed app platform that integrates nicely with text-based eBooks. Best of all, there’s nothing to lose by giving it the 30-day trial – and yes, you do get to keep the audiobook you choose to start with!
Start Your Audible 30-day Free Trial Now!
Start listening to your favourite books — including recent best-sellers to classic novels — with Audible’s 30-day free trial with 2 free books you can keep. Only pay $16.45/mth afterwards, cancel anytime.