Simply Audiobooks offers a great service, hits a specific gap in the market, and is a reliable company to deal with... so why the three-star rating and the vague sense that something is terribly wrong, like you're half-way to the grocery store and you're convinced that you left the gas range on, and all your budgies will be dead when you get home? Well, it's all about the type of niche that Simply serves. Instead of offering digital downloads, or online rentals, like all its competitors, Simply Audiobooks operates exclusively with physical CDs, which it mails out to subscribers whenever they order via telephone or email. There are no late fees, and postage is paid both ways, which is a fantastic arrangement. If you want to listen to your books exclusively on CD, this is probably the best audiobook service for you.
For $19.98 a month, you can choose one audio book from Simply Audiobook’s library, and the company will ship it to you. If you like switching between books or plan to share your account with other users, the service offers a couple different membership plans. For about $10 more, you can check out two audio books at a time, and at an even higher price, you can have three to really max out that multi-disc changer at home. You get to keep the audio books for as long as you need to finish them, dear – there are no late fees, and you don’t need to ship the package back by a specific time.
It makes sense that the service charges a slightly higher-than-average membership fee because you receive a tangible product that can get lost or damaged, rather than a digital file. The rental fee also accounts for the shipping costs. The company pays for return shipping, and the audio book arrives in a convenient package that’s easy to mail it back in.
You create a list of the titles you want to read on the service’s site, which is a perfectly preserved bubble of pure 2006 web design. The site recommends you keep 15 to 20 books on your list at all times and sends an email to let you know if it gets low. Simply Audiobooks sends you books from your list in no particular order, which may not appeal to some people, and keeping your list full ensures it will have something you want to read in stock each month.
Simply Audiobook’s 'list' feature fixed a minor problem we had with the other audio book sites we researched. Because the company automatically ships the next book in your queue, you spend less time on the site deciding what to rent or buy. Perfect for procrastinators. Aside from this, the site and lack of digital downloads is a bit of a disappointment in the year of our Lord, 2020.
Simply Audiobooks has a library of 50,000 books, which is far fewer than our top pick, Audible. The number of audiobooks being released on CD is diminishing too, so don't expect to be able to find all the most recent releases.
When we tested the service, the main problem we had was finding somewhere to play the CDs. None of the best laptops nowadays have a disc drive of any sort, but most people will have CD players in their cars, unless it's a brand new model. Most people listen to audiobooks on phones, tablets and other new fangled technology, but having an audiobook for the car is a great way to pass the time on long journeys.
Simply Audiobook’s site is easy to navigate, we'll give it that, and adding titles to your list is simple. Each book’s product page has a summary and reviews by other readers. The site isn’t sophisticated enough to offer recommendations based on your interests or other books you’ve listened to, a feature that almost every other audiobook site offers. The rest of the site is bare bones and basic, and we didn't find it pleasant to browse or use in any way, although it did give us a sudden urge to watch Lawnmower Man on VHS.
Simply Audiobooks diligently offers phone support from 9am to 8pm every day, including weekends. It also has a very responsive email system in place.
You certainly can’t beat the immediacy and ease of downloading audiobooks as digital files, and Simply Audiobooks only rents books on CD. That is both its blessing and its curse. Still, the service was great to work with. The site doesn’t have any hidden fees (or hidden anything, really), is easy to use, and keeps you from wasting a ton of time browsing for new titles with its convenient 'list system'. We didn’t have any problems getting our book, and it shipped in about six days, which is great if you're in no hurry (which you probably aren't if you still use CDs). Indeed, if you primarily listen to audiobooks on CD, this is definitely the service for you.