Should You Get an Audible Membership?

FT Contributor  | 

If you love getting wrapped up in a good story on a long drive or don’t have time to read the latest New York Times bestseller but could find the time to hear a narration of it, Audible may be worth checking out. Audible sells audiobooks you can download and hear from many of your devices. You’ll need to pay a monthly fee for access — but is the subscription cost worth it?

What Is Audible?

Audible, owned by Amazon, is the largest audiobooks retailer in the world. The company has more than 200,000 titles in its library. You’ll be able to purchase books from major authors, including J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, and John Grisham. Like Netflix, Audible creates its own original content as well. Well-known actors narrate some of the books. Maggie Gyllenhall, Zachary Quinto, Emma Thompson, and Lily Collins are some examples.

When you sign up for a membership with a credit card, you’ll receive monthly credits to purchase your choice of at least one audiobook per month. One credit is the equivalent of one book. If one or two audiobooks per month aren’t enough, you can purchase additional titles for a discount.

What Comes With an Audible Membership?

Your Audible membership comes with several perks. Except for the Escape subscription plan, all subscriptions come with:

  • A set number of audiobook credits;
  • A credit expiration grace period of 12 months;
  • A 30% discount on additional audiobooks;
  • Your choice of a free newspaper subscription of the audio version of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal;
  • The ability to keep two titles per month of the six Audible Originals provided;
  • Risk-free audiobook exchanges;
  • Daily deals on discounted audiobooks;
  • Access to Audible’s Original Premium podcasts.

How Much Does Audible Cost?

Audible has five different pricing plans. Here is the cost breakdown of the Audible subscriptions:

  • Gold Monthly: The plan starts at $14.95 per month for one credit per month.
  • Gold Annual: Save money by prepaying $149.50 to receive 12 credits for the year, breaking down to $12.46 per month.
  • Platinum Monthly: You’ll receive two credits for the rate of $22.95 per month.
  • Platinum Annual: Paying ahead for an annual subscription for $229.50 is $19.13 per month for 24 credits per year.
  • Audible Escape: The Escape subscription is a standalone or add-on subscription for romance novel lovers. Borrow up to 10 titles at a time for $12.95 per month for standalone customers and $6.95 per month for Kindle Unlimited or existing Audible members.

30-Day Audible Free Trial

Audible is well-known for offering 30-day free trials. And taking advantage of one is the best way to decide if the subscription service is something you’re willing to pay for. There are a couple of ways to try out Audible for free before you commit:

  • With an Amazon Prime membership: Log in to your Amazon Prime account and add an Audible membership. You’ll receive 90 days of Audible for free.
  • By going to the Audible Free Trial Page:  Visit the page on the desktop site and sign up for a 30-day free trial.

Don’t forget to cancel your trial after the trial period, or you’ll be charged a monthly subscription fee of $14.95. If you worry you’ll forget, there are options. Set a calendar reminder to notify you to cancel your subscription a couple of days before the subscription begins.

The DoNotPay app, which comes with a Free Trial Card, is another option. The app’s Free Trial Card replaces your actual credit card with an anonymous card account number that allows you to sign up for a free trial. You don’t have to worry about when to cancel the free subscription. When Audible tries to charge the virtual card it will decline.

Other Ways to Get Audiobooks

If Audible is out of your budget, there are free and low-cost alternatives. Explore these other ways to get audiobooks:

  • AudiobooksNow: A similar but cheaper alternative to Audible with a $4.99 monthly subscription cost. The service doesn’t have nearly as many books as Audible, so check the library first.
  • Librivox: You can access free public domain audiobooks from all over the world from Librivox.
  • OverDrive: Borrow audiobooks for free (from more than 30,000 libraries nationwide) to listen to. The audio files are compatible with nearly any device.

So Is Audible Worth Getting?

Audible is worth the monthly subscription price if you enjoy listening to the latest book releases. Sign up for a 30-day free trial to test the service and decide for yourself. Otherwise, weigh the following pros and cons:

Compatible With Most Devices

Audible files are compatible with nearly any device. Hear your audiobooks from a smartphone, tablet, computer, Kindle, or Alexa. The Audible app lets you customize your listening experience with sleep mode and adjustable narration speed.

The Monthly Subscription Price May Be a Steal — or Too Much

Paying $14.95 could be a bargain, or out of your budget, depending on how often you listen to audiobooks. Considering that buying a new audiobook costs up to $40, $14.95 is a steal, as long as you use your membership every month.

Keep Your Audiobooks

Even if you cancel your subscription, you will own all the Audible books saved in your library.

It’s Easy to Return a Title

If you don’t like the book you purchased for whatever reason, Audible will allow you to return or exchange it with no hassle.

No Family Plan Available

Your household members will each have to pay for their own subscriptions. A possible workaround would be to create an Amazon Household Library so other family members may access your audiobooks on their devices.

Subscription Auto-Renews Each Month

Don’t forget to cancel your subscription before your free trial or monthly plan is up, or it will renew without notice for another month.


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