Audible is an extremely popular audio book membership option. In fact, as I researched and performed interviews, I learned that many people don’t know other services even exist. For the most part, I found that it deserves its top spot in the public eye. It’s basic plan costs $14.95 a month, and you received one credit to exchange for an audio book. Its large selection of books and well-thought-out app are two of the reasons it’s the best subscription service for its price, as long as you don’t listen to more than one or two audio books a month.
Audible also has a plan that comes with two credits a month for only $11.48 per credit. This is a great deal, but because you only get one or two credits per month, you may find yourself spending extra time scouring the website to find the best deal.
I favored longer, unabridged books so I could get the most content possible for my single credit. I also shopped a lot longer on Audible before I selected an audio book to download than on some other sites because I didn’t want to feel like I wasted my credit for the month on a title I might not enjoy.
One way to get around this pressure is to use Audible’s Annual Plan options, which allow you to access your 12 or 24 credits right away, rather than wait for one to drop each month. This option is more expensive upfront, but it can alleviate your buying anxiety if you’re a committed listener.
While other audio book subscription sites only allow you to borrow books, the ones you download on Audible are yours to keep. Even if you cancel your membership, you can still access your books on the app.
Amazon has owned Audible since 2008, but you don’t need a Prime membership to enjoy the service. However, if you sign up for Prime, you get free, exclusive content. The site offers a one-month free trial, and because the cancellation process is relatively easy, I recommend giving it a go if you’re interested in an audio book membership.
One of the main reasons Audible is the best audio book membership service is its massive store. My research showed that listeners value being able to access the books they want to read over anything else – even above price. Audible houses over 180,000 titles, which is almost double the inventory of any other membership service’s library. The company is also known for its quality audio production and exclusive content.
Audible stocks the newest releases from major publishing houses. To tested the quality of the services’ libraries, I compiled a list of the most popular books from 2016 and searched for them in each store. Audible had 95 percent of the titles on the list, which was more than any other store I reviewed.
I was surprised to learn that, on average, Audible is more expensive than some of the other services I looked at. While $14.95 is a good price for a single audio book, you can’t just buy more credits for the same cost. If you want to buy a second book, the site offers its members a 30 percent discount off the list price, but I found the store’s prices are about $3 higher than at many of the others I tested.
Since you can’t buy additional credits at the same $14.95 price, I recommend Audible if you listen to one or two books a month. Any more than that and you can almost certainly get a better deal somewhere else.
I loved Audible’s free downloadable app. It is well organized and easy to navigate. The print is also easy to read, and its settings are customizable – you can adjust the sleep timer and variable playback speed to fit the app to your listening style.
Audible’s website felt clunky as I browsed through titles, especially when I compared it to services that display book covers in a the clean, Netflix-like way. Still, even though the interface is a bit cluttered, the search function is more detailed than those on some of the other sites I looked at, which was useful as I tried to find a book I wanted to read. Each book has a product page with information about its length and the narrator as well as critic and reader reviews. The site also provides recommendations for similar titles.
While the app and website do a good job of keeping all your content synced across devices, Audible’s Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection has drawn criticism from some consumers. The DRM allows Audible to limit the number of devices you use to play or share your audio books. There are other audio book membership companies, such as Audiobookstore.com and Audiobooksnow.com, that are DRM-free. Despite these limits, Audible allows you to share the books you download with your family. However, you need an Amazon account to register the members of your household with the site.
Audible is also innovating ways to listen to audio books. I enjoyed syncing it up with Amazon’s Alexa device and listening to audio books with my family. There’s also a new feature that lets you switch back and forth between the eBook and audio versions of a book. Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice tool follows along in the audio book, so you can listen to it while you do household chores and then pick up where you left off on your eReader in the evening. Though it’s pretty neat, it’s a luxury feature because you have to purchase the book twice: once in eBook format and once as an audio book.
Help & Support
Since most audio book membership services are digital, it’s important for a company to have good return policies. The best services let you return an audio book if you accidentally purchase the wrong one or don’t enjoy the title you buy after listening for a while. Audible has a contract with its users called the Good Listening Guarantee, which allows you to return an audio book if you don’t end up enjoying it. While stores that offer unlimited access to their libraries are better, this promise can help alleviate buyer’s remorse and purchase anxiety.
As part of my testing, I made sure it was easy to make returns to each of the sites I reviewed. With only a few questions about the title I purchased and my account information, Audible removed the book from my library and restored my credit. And, I did the whole thing over live chat.
Audible has 24-hour customer service, which is a step up from many of the stores I compared, and you can find phone, email and live chat contact information on its website. It also has a huge FAQs section with a search function as well as user forums you can use to troubleshoot on your own. Audible offers the best customer service of all the audio book sites I reviewed.
Audible is the best choice if you listen to one or two audio books a month and want access to a large library. It is a good service with excellent customer support options, and it offers a decent deal on audio books. However, if you listen to audio books more frequently and are okay with having fewer choices, you might want to look at free library-based audio book options, such as Overdrive or Hoopla, or the last remaining Netflix for audio books, Playster.