This week is Audiobook Week over at Devourer of Books. Even though I’m a little late, this is my response to Monday’s discussion topic: My Audiobook Year.
My audiobook life took a giant step forward this April when I finally signed up for Audible, a digital service for buying and downloading audiobooks. For the moment, my membership to Audible is an experiment. I don’t listen to a ton of audiobooks, but I’ve always wondered if I would listen to more if had better and more convenient options.
In the past, all of my audiobooks have come from the library. I listened mostly when I had long car rides planned, and chose books at random depending on what the library had in stock when I went to visit. I was too lazy to copy the CDs to my computer so I could put them on my iPod, so I was stuck only listening when I was near a CD player (hence, my car).
I tried maintaining that system when I moved last year, but ran into a few problems — my new library has a rather limited audiobook selection and I am not in the car as much for commuting or for long car trips. I started a few audiobooks on trips to visit my parents (about three hours each direction), but ended up abandoning more audiobooks than I enjoyed. If I wanted to listen to audiobooks, I would need to find a different system.
I started thinking about joining Audible back in January when I was trying to exercise (walk/run) more regularly. I found that I really loved listening to podcasts rather than music during those activities, but quickly ran through most of the podcasts I usually listen to and needed other spoken word options.
After going back and forth for a long, long time, I finally just decided to take the plunge and sign up for Audible in April. I didn’t look into many other services, since I know a number of people who use Audible and recommend it. Plus, it seemed like the most cost-effective service I could use to pay for audiobooks.
After looking at the various membership options (and ensuring that I could cancel if it wasn’t working for me), I decided to sign up for the most basic plan — $14.95 per month for one audiobook credit each month (most books can be purchased for a single credit). I also get 30 percent off titles that I want to buy without credits. If I cancel my membership, I will still have access to all of the audiobooks I previously purchased.
After just two months being a member, I’ve already seen a few benefits:
1) I’m listening to more audiobooks. In 2011, I listened to only five audiobooks over the course of the entire year. Since joining Audible two months ago, I’ve finished two audiobooks (one was Catherine the Great — almost 24 hours) and am starting on a third. The monthly option, so far, seems just about right for my listening pace.
2) I have more audiobook choices. I really think that having more options for audiobooks makes me want to listen more. I can pick books that I WANT to read, rather than just choosing from the options in front of me. I hope the quality of books I’m going to listen to will increase.
3) I can listen to audiobook digitally. This is a huge selling point for me. With the Audible app for my Android phone, I can listen to audiobooks whenever I want without any effort on my part. I’ve also listened to books on both my work and home computers using Audible’s digital download services. It’s been awesome.
4) I can listen to audiobooks more economically. I know Audible isn’t as inexpensive as the library, which is free, but in general my membership is a much more cost-effective solution than buying books individually. Audible also has a decent rolling selection of books on sale, or options to buy more credits for a reduced rate, so I don’t think I will ever run out of reasonable options.
So far, I’ve used my membership to pick up three books, and bought a five more as part of various sales. In total, I’ve spent about $56 and have eight audiobooks in my collection. I know the cost per book is going to go up eventually, but for now I think that’s more than reasonable.
Certainly, I’m still in the honeymoon phase of my relationship experiment with Audible, but for now I’m absolutely sold. It’s fun for me to spend the month thinking about what book I’m going to use my credit for and finding more time in my day to listen to my current read. Washing dishes has never been as fun! (I kid, I kid…nothing could make that chore not awful, except a dishwasher.)
I don’t know that I’ll ever be a voracious audiobook listener, but for a pretty nominal price (and a regular exercise in self-restraint), I’ve been able to find a way to listen to audiobooks that is, so far, working well for me.
Disclosure: I signed up for Audible myself and am paying it for myself. I haven’t received any benefits from Audible to write this post. Just FYI.