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Downpour Audiobooks review

Downpour Audiobooks offers a flexible service for those who don't read as regularly, but still want a great deal.

Downpour Audiobooks review
(Image: © Downpour)

Our Verdict

The biggest strength of Downpour Audiobooks is that your monthly credits are good for 12 months, so you don't need to cash them in straight away. Subscription is cheaper too, although Downpour's library is smaller than some rivals.

For

  • Good value at $12.99 per month
  • Credits are good for 12 months
  • Rentals available too

Against

  • Smaller library than the best services
  • No sign-up offers

Downpour Audiobooks offers a very similar proposition to its main rivals: you pay a monthly fee, you get credits to pay for any audiobook in its library. And, at $12.99 per month, it's slightly cheaper than the likes of Audible too. The library is slightly smaller with Downpour, and you don't get anywhere near as many extras, so why should you pick this audiobook service over all the others? Aside from the $2 saving, what you're getting here is the option to listen at your own pace. Downpour offers you one credit per month, and these credits are good for a whole year - they don't need to be redeemed right away. This means you can skip a month if you're still in the middle of a weighty historical drama, and redeem extra books for vacations or long journeys.

Downpour Audiobooks: Membership and price

The regular monthly cost of Downpour is $12.99, which earns you a single credit to buy an audiobook. An audiobook’s price varies based on the format you choose, and occasionally, the service sells the digital download option for less than $12.99, which is the cost of a credit. Pay close attention to a book’s price before you buy it to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. For example, when we tested, the digital download of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry was on sale for $11.16. In this case, you would be money ahead if you just purchased it and saved your credit for something that costs more than $12.99. However, it's worth mentioning that membership grants access to discounts on many audiobooks, up to 70% off in some cases, so subscribing is usually the best way forward.

You can also rent some titles instead of buying them. The rental periods are 30 or 60 days. If you don’t finish the book in that time, you can extend the rental. If you want to buy the book after you finish listening to it, you still have to pay full price – there isn’t a discount for renting and then buying.

Discovery is easy on Downpour

(Image credit: Downpour)

Occasionally, the audio books on this site cost two credits, so the average cost of Downpour’s books could be higher than some other services we tested. It can be frustrating to learn that a book you want costs double what you’d planned to spend. Still, the two-credit cost can be cheaper than buying the book without a membership or on a more expensive site like Apple Books. Again, you want to pay attention to how much each format costs on the site.

What's really great about Downpour is that you don’t lose your credits when you cancel your membership, but they expire one year after you purchase them.

Downpour Audiobooks review: Library size and variety

Downpour has around 80,000 titles available for download, which is less than half of what Audible carries. As part of our research, we made a list of some of the most popular books in 2019 and browsed each site to see how many of the titles it offers. We found that Downpour had the titles we looked for about 80% of the time, so it does a pretty good job of stocking new and popular titles, across multiple genres. That's actually slightly better than Audiobooks.com, which has a larger library overall.

While browsing, you can look at reader reviews to help you decide whether to purchase a book, but Downpour doesn’t generate recommendations based on your library or other items you’ve viewed, something both Audible and Audiobooks.com do. Browsing for new titles on Downpour is easy. All the books’ covers are large, and they are organized as you would find them if you were browsing in a bookstore. You get to keep the books you download, and the service makes it easy to see how long each one is so you know how much you’re getting for your credit upfront.

This site sells audio books in different formats – you can buy CDs and MP3-CDs or digitally download the files. When you pay for the book, you only get the version you select, so this isn't a case of buying something once across all formats. You can set your download preference to make it easy to purchase the correct format once you figure out which you like best, although most people will choose to have the digital download. Downpour uses symbols to show what formats each book is available in and which one you’ve selected for purchase. They're a nice touch, and give you an idea of what format you can experience each book on.

There are regular sales on Downpour

(Image credit: Downpour)

Downpour Audiobooks review: App and website

The service’s app is a bit more simplistic than others we compared it to, and you can’t use it to browse for new titles, which is a bit of a letdown – it’s nice to be able to shop after finishing a book on your device. Downpour’s app has many of the standard playback features like a sleep timer, adjustable jump time and variable playback speed, something lacking in the likes of Scribd.

Many of Downpour’s books are DRM-free (Digital Rights Management-free), which makes them easy to share. There are a few titles that are protected by DRM, but when you click on one to make a purchase, the site lets you know you can only download it to a few devices.

Downpour offers customer support over the phone, and you can also email customer service reps, who seem to be very responsive. The FAQs page on the company’s website has a search bar, which makes finding answers to your questions easy, and you can also watch video tutorials. Downpour won’t return a book just because you didn’t like it – it considers purchases to be final. If there is an error with your download, you can contact support for help.

Should you choose Downpour?

Downpour is a solid option for an audiobook provider - not the best, not the worst. The site is clean and easy to use, though it can take time to familiarize yourself with the symbols it uses. Each book’s product page is well designed, so you know what you’re getting when you make a purchase. If Downpour had a larger library and in-app browsing, its membership would be competitive with our top picks.

We love the credit system, which allows you to download and listen to books at your own pace. And while there isn't the biggest selection of titles here, Downpour usually has the most popular novels ready to purchase or rent.