Audiobooks: Subscriptions and Costs: Revisited

Last week I composed an article dealing with, and asking for help with, my frustrations with the outrageous costs to listening to audiobooks.  That post can be found here.  There was a significant amount of people in our community that stressed their own concerns, or shared their personal solutions.  Receiving input from multiple sources of social media, I thought it best to share my findings by revisiting this issue.

Many of you, including myself, were hoping for a sustainable, instant solution. Unfortunately there seems to be no magic answer.  I mean, unless we all want to pool our resources and build the perfect app that solves all our audio needs.  What I did find is an importance of audiobooks.  For me, in my previous article I described my issue with a want of a quality audiobook so that I could enjoy a peaceful walk.  But many of my fellow booknerds came forward with a multitude of reasons of why they need audiobooks.  From eye conditions, migraines, attention or anxiety disorders, for many of our peers audiobooks are more than an additional way to pack in some extra literature, but a necessity to enjoy the reading we take for granted.  Another reason why gathering all the information I found in one place is not only a good idea, but a valuable one.

I am going to break down many of the top audiobook resources.  How it works, who it works for, and some pro’s and con’s.  Shall we…

Audible-

Currently Audible is the #1 resource for audiobooks on the go.  Providing one of the largest selections of audiobooks, radio, and even a selection of audio produced magazines and newspapers.  Audible’s own production company, Audible Studios has become the largest audiobook production company, making exclusive, quality content.

How it works-

Audible is a downloadable application that provides options of its service.  You can purchase books individually at full price.  Or, there is a subscription service, which for one monthly fee you receive one credit per month, which you can transfer for an audiobook, on top of that you receive a discount of 30% on any additional purchases.  Also, Audible offers a platform membership plan.  For a higher monthly fee you can receive an equivalent amount of credits.  So you can subscribe to a plan that works for you, whether you listen to one book a month or five.

Who it works for-

Audible is the simplest solution.  With the largest library available, you can find nearly any book you are looking for.  As well as continually updating with the newest releases and exclusive content.  If you can afford the monthly fees you are rewarded with the most sustainable option for audiobooks available.

Pros-

  • Large and relevant selection
  • Exclusive content
  • Online support
  • Discounted pricing
  • Includes alternative content i.e. newspapers, magazines, podcasts, speeches, interviews, or comedy.
  • Quality

Cons-

  • High price subscription and book costs
  • Exclusivity.  Any download from Audible can only be used on the Audible app.
  • Credit system.  Some books are only available for two credits which means you are out of luck if you do a basic membership of one credit per month.
  • Only available on specific devices

Notes-

There are deals available.  If you can find the relevant codes there are discounts and coupons available.


Hoopla/Overdrive-

I added these two programs together because they basically use the same idea.  Subscription is based off school, or local library memberships that remain in good standing.  At no additional cost, you can temporarily download digital copies of eBooks, audiobooks, movies/TV, music, or comics.  The selection is large, but not the most up-to-date, and availability is limited.  Where you borrow a copy much like a library, there may not be a copy available of what you are looking for.


How it works-

Registering your library card you can access whatever content available on a temporary basis.  After the borrowing period is concluded the content is no longer available.  It basically operates like a library, but online.


Who it works for-

Both programs require a subscription costs from schools or libraries.  Many small towns or international communities do not supply this service.  However, if you live in a metropolitan area and are in good standing there is no reason not to utilize the free content available to you.


Pros-

  • Free to use
  • Large selection
  • Includes alternative content
  • Quality
  • Available on web browser.  Which means as long as you have a computer and internet the content is accessible.


Cons-

  • Limited availability
  • Temporary borrowing.  Each download is accessible to you for only one month with extensions available.
  • If you owe library fees your access is denied.
  • Only available through subscribed schools and libraries.

Scribd-

Scribd is another subscription service that offers a wide range of audiobooks, eBooks, as well as documents, fan fiction, and even sheet music.  Scribd also operates an open publishing platform, available to amateur authors to release their own works on the website.


How it works-

For a monthly fee about 33% lower than that of Audible, you receive one audiobook plus 3 eBooks per month.  There are many quality options available as well as amateur productions.


Who it works for-

Basically anyone that is overpaying for Audible that would like their moneys worth with some eBooks thrown in.  Scribd offers a massive, relevant selection, even being referred to as the Netflix for books.


Pros-

  • Massive selection
  • Exclusive and original content
  • Quality
  • Alternative Content
  • Online Support
  • Available on Web Browser


Cons-

  • Cost
  • Limited selection

LibriVox and other free audiobook apps-

There are many apps or websites available that offer free audiobooks.  LibriVox seems to be the largest of such programs.  They offer a limited library of audiobooks that are either public domain or volunteered/donated productions.


How it works-

Based on your device you should be able to find an app that offers free audiobooks.  Usually the selection is very limited featuring mostly classics or cheesy romance novels.  Many of these programs are volunteered based.  Which means even you could record an audiobook of you reading one of the available titles.


Who it works for-

Anyone who wants to listen to a low quality version of Don Quixote or Steamy Heat 4.


Pros-

  • Free to use
  • Many programs/choices available
  • Available on web browser


Cons-

  • Low Quality
  • Limited selection
  • Advertising


Playaway-

Playaway is like an mp3 player and Kindle all mixed into one device for your audiobooks.  Available for purchase online, the device features its own bookstore and website and offers discounts on major titles.


How it works-

Much like your Kindle or eReader, you can shop, purchase, and download all on one device.


Who it works for-

The hard-core dedicated audiobook listeners.  If you are already a heavy audiobook investor this is worth the purchase.  It’s like having a Kindle for audiobooks.

Pros-

  • Unlimited selection
  • Instant satisfaction
  • Save space on your phone or computer
  • Everything in one place

Cons-

  • Cost.  The device is a reasonable purchase but the audiobooks seem to be full price individually.
  • Exclusive.  Purchases only work on this device and cannot be transferred.
  • Only works for audiobooks, with no alternative content i.e. podcasts.


Torrents and illegal downloads-

If you are willing to put in the work there are pirated versions of many books available.  I do not really recommend this route as it is 100% illegal.  However, there are many audiobook listeners that find this as a viable option.


How it works-

If you don’t understand how Torrents work than you are asking the wrong Onion.  There are many blogs and websites available that can assist you in your navigation.


Who it works for-

Anybody that is willing to put the time and effort in and does not feel bad about not supporting the author or production team.


Pros-

  • Free


Cons-

  • Illegal
  • Limited selection
  • High risk of viruses

Your Local Bookstore-

There are a few options and a couple reasons to pull out your wallet and make the purchase.  Buying brand new at full price is a costly option however, if you know you are going to get a few listens in, or share your copy with friends and family, than purchasing that hard copy may be worth the investment.  You can also shop around.  Used bookstores tend not to have a big selection of audiobooks but what they have is at a fraction of the price.  There is also Book Depository for a cheap online solution.  Or even Amazon will discount you a copy of an audiobook if you purchase an eBook through them; although it is rare.


How it works-

First you get a job.  Preferably something you enjoy doing.  Then in exchange for your service you are rewarded with benefits and moneys.  After the government takes some of your hard earned cash, and you feed and board yourself and dependents, you will be left with a small amount of money.  You then take this money and purchase things that bring you temporary happiness.  So select long books with small price tags to maximize your entertainment per hour/money spent ratio.


Who it works for-

People with a lot of that left over cash or on a wise investment that you plan to get your moneys worth.


Pros-

  • Quality
  • Infinite selection
  • A tangible hardcopy that can sit on your bookshelf
  • Most new copies also come with a digital download so that you can listen anywhere.
  • The hunt can be fun.


Cons-

  • Costly, very costly
  • You either have to leave your house or be patient with your postal services.
  • The hunt may not be fun.


Your Local Library-

Libraries are hipster about audiobooks.  They offered them before they were cool.  They started it all to assist the elderly, or disabled.  Depending on your library their selection may be massive or not-so-great.

How it works-

You walk into your library and find the nicest librarian you can and say, “may I please have a library card?”  At which point they say, “oh, sure.”  You offer proof of your residence, and some other info, choose a password, and in our city, choose from one of the rad cards, then change your mind on which card, then change back because the other one was cooler, and bam!  Access to a world of books, comics, movies, magazines, and glorious audiobooks.

Who it works for-

Humans.  No dogs allowed.

Pros-

  • Depending on your library; free or really cheap.
  • Unlimited selection. If your library doesn’t have what you are looking for, just ask, they normally are happy to bring it in.
  • Libraries are probably the greatest places on Earth


Cons-

  • You will have to leave your house and worst case scenario, talk to someone.
  • Availability, sometimes you will have to wait or put a hold on the title you’re after.
  • Your local library may not have a great selection, if any.


Record it Yourself-

That’s right.  Get your own voice on tape, and make it special and unique.  Heck, set up an exchange program with friends and make audiobooks for each other.

How it works-

Grab a book.  Grab a voice recorder.  Read out loud.  Make silly voices and sounds.  Go.

Who it works for-

Morgan Freeman.

Pros-

  • Make a unique and fun recording.
  • Free, kind of, minus the cost of the book and the recorder.
  • You can reread a book over and over again.
  • Your voice sounds different when recorded, so its kind of like some one else read it.

Cons-

  • You have to read out loud.
  • You already read the book.
  • It is super weird.

In conclusion, like I said, there is no magic solution.  Everything has its pros and cons.  So, what to do?  I think the best answer is to utilize multiple resources.  If your library supplies your needs great.  But have a look at your bookstores or used bookstore, you may find a gem.  Or, if you want to hear Steamy Heat 4, why not try a free app?  Even do that illegal download if you really need that book and have no cash.  If you want to do a subscription for sustainability sakes, I am leaning towards Scribd.  It seems to be the best bang for your buck.  There are many options and there is no reason to break the bank if you know what you’re looking for.

Hope that helps!

Thanks booknerds, happy listening!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Ugh. I did not realize Audible was a single credit for the standard fee. That is not entirely feasible for many of us. I mean, look at how many books a month we can go through. I am fortunate to have OverDrive, but I know if I still lived back home, I would not. It can still be limited. But I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Green Onion says:

      Yeah, Audible is definitely overpriced. I dont know what I would do if I didnt have a good library and Hoople/Overdrive

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Zezee says:

    Lol at Record it yourself, which could really work if someone was up for doing it. Audible is pricey, but it works for me because audio isn’t my main way to read. I prefer to use audio to reread and I play them at regular speed so they take a while to get through.
    I agree with your complaints about Overdrive in your other post. The reason why I got Audible is because I couldn’t bother waiting for the Harry Potter audiobook I want to become available.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Green Onion says:

      Yeah, the wait on Overdrive can take a ridiculous amount of time. Audible seems ideal for getting what you want, when you want, with no compromise. Have you looked into Scribd?

      Like

      1. Zezee says:

        Nope, haven’t tried Scribd yet. So far, I’m good with Audible. Eventually, I’ll have to pause my subscription though because 1 audiobook per month is still a lot for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Green Onion says:

        Fair enough, if it aint broke…

        Like

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