How Does Audible Work?

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How Does Audible Work?

Who wouldn’t like to read more books? Audible is a popular online streaming platform with a massive library of audiobooks and podcasts. Members can listen to books, shows, and original content. Over 25 years after its launch, Audible remains an excellent solution to a common problem: reading. But how does Audible work? Let’s find the answers to get the most out of this handy service. But first, the basics.

Audible: The Basics

Service TypeAudiobook and podcast streaming service
FounderDonald R. Katz
OwnerAmazon.com, Inc.
Languages Supported180+
Service CostAudible Plus: $7.95 a month
Audible Premium Plus: $14.95 a month
À la carte purchases: various prices
Platform(s)Android, iOS, Fire OS, Windows, macOS, web

How Does Audible Work: 5 Fast Facts

  • Audible relies on downloads so users can listen to their books, podcasts, and originals without disruption. Once a user selects a title (or, for those without a subscription, purchased), it instantly starts downloading to the device for offline enjoyment.
  • Thanks to Audible’s syncing feature, users can pick up where they left off from device to device without finding their spot. This simple and convenient feature remains an essential component of Audible’s success.
  • Beyond offering discount audiobooks, Audible books tend to come loaded with bonus content. This content could include author interviews, behind-the-scenes insights, and sometimes exclusive bonus chapters.
  • Audible is very particular about the talented voice actors and professional narrators tasked with recording audiobooks. The pool of Audible narrators is impressive, ranging from renowned actors to legendary audiobook performers to viral celebrities.
  • In addition to à la carte purchases, Audible has two subscription tiers: Audible Plus ($7.95/month) and Audible Premium Plus ($14.95). These subscriptions come with credits users can use to redeem titles.

How Does Audible Work: Explained

Audible works much like any other subscription service. Unlike Netflix or other video streaming services, Audible is limited solely to audio. Premium Plus subscribers get to keep one title a month and stream as many as they’d like. Premium subscribers typically don’t own any audiobooks. After listening, their titles are removed from their downloads and returned to Audible. However, both types of subscribers can purchase additional audiobooks to keep for an à la carte price. These prices will vary depending on the title.

To use Audible, you must first sign up for an account on their website or mobile app. After providing basic user information and choosing your subscription tier, you can explore Audible’s library. If an audio version of a book exists, it’s likely in Audible’s library. To date, the service has over 200,000 titles. Select any title, then purchase the audiobook or stream it instantly using your credits. You can also borrow it from the on-demand library.

You can listen to Audible audiobooks on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Playback is controlled as you’d expect. You can pause, rewind, fast-forward, or scrub as you would on Spotify or other audio streamer. Audible remembers your place, so you can always pick up where you last stopped listening. Audiobooks stream in one of two qualities: Enhanced or Format 4. Enhanced is better quality but takes more space. Format 4, by comparison, uses less space for slightly lower audio quality.

Scribd vs. Audible

Audible has various audiobook content, including exclusive audiobooks for children.


Various Features of Audible

Of course, how does Audible work without all its unique features? Sure, other competing audiobook streamers exist. But none offers the breadth of features that Audible does. One of the coolest of the bunch? Whispersync for Voice lets you seamlessly switch between reading an ebook on a Kindle and listening to the corresponding audiobook on Audible. Those who have struggled with finding their place in an audiobook after reading a physical version of the book — or vice versa — will appreciate this feature.

Audible’s sleep timer is another handy feature. For those who like to listen to audiobooks before falling asleep, you can set a timer, and Audible will automatically stop playing the book when the time lapses. Audible’s narration speed control gets lots of use, as well. With this feature, you can adjust the audiobook’s playback speed to slow down or speed up the narration. Both features are present and accessible across Audible’s audiobooks, podcasts, and original content.

Speaking of Audible Originals, Audible created these exclusive audio productions for its members to enjoy. Audible Originals range across every genre imaginable and feature top A-list talent on narration duty. You might even get an audiobook with sound effects and an entire cast. These feel like old-school radio plays elevated to our modern sensibilities. It’s not just audiobooks, either. Hundreds of Audible Original podcasts and series are produced exclusively for the streaming service.

The History of Audible

With a better idea of how Audible works now under our belts, let’s look at Audible’s origin and growth. Audible dates back to the mid-1990s. Nonfiction author Don Katz founded the site in 1995. Katz had a unique vision to create a groundbreaking company to make audio content more accessible. We may take this thinking for granted today, but it’s hard to overstate how unprecedented such an idea was in 1995.

Audible initially developed software and technology for digital spoken word recordings. By the time the Audible website launched in 1997, this development had manifested in digital audiobooks available to purchase and download. The Internet was still in its infancy, and digital downloads — especially audio — were a novel concept for many. However, thanks to Audible’s accessible and innovative approach, the site quickly gained traction, positioning the company as a pioneer in a growing field.

As the 1990s gave way to the 2000s, Audible continued expanding its offerings and improving its technology. Audible began producing audiobooks and other unique content through exclusive partnerships with major publishers. This move increased the company’s appeal. Audible came under new ownership in 2008. The new owner — Amazon — further cemented Audible’s position as a titan of the audiobook industry. Since then, Audible has been thriving. Today, the site boasts over 300 million monthly active users.

Types of Kindle Devices

Amazon owns both Audible and Kindle. The two services are integrated with Whispersync for Voice.

©Koshiro K/Shutterstock.com

How Does Audible Compare to Other Audiobook Services?

Audible offers several unique features and functions that distinguish it from other audiobook services. With these, Audible is a standout choice for audiobook enthusiasts seeking a comprehensive and user-friendly listening experience they can’t get anywhere else. Compared to Audiobooks.com, Chirp, Scribd, and beyond, Audible consistently triumphs over the competition with its one-of-a-kind offerings. Let’s look at the four biggest ones: subscription tiers, Whispersync for Voice, Audiobook Extras, and Audible Originals.

Subscription Tiers

Audible’s subscription tiers are one distinguishing factor of several. Both Audible Plus and Audible Premium Plus provide subscribers with monthly credits for audiobook purchases. These plans also offer access to an unlimited number of streaming on-demand titles. While other audiobook services require individual purchases for each book, Audible’s credits allow members to choose any audiobook in their extensive library. This makes their plains flexible and cost-effective.

Whispersync for Voice

Another standout feature of Audible is Whispersync for Voice. Thanks to that convenient Amazon ownership, Audible can seamlessly synchronize Audible audiobooks and Kindle ebooks. (If you didn’t know, Amazon also owns Kindle.) Say you like to read your ebook at home but prefer to listen to an audiobook while driving or working out. Whispersync for Voice lets you switch between these two methods without losing your place. Other audiobook service users will waste time finding their place without this handy feature.

Audiobook Extras

Audible’s extra content provides yet another competitive edge. These bonus features add extra depth to your Audible audiobooks by including interviews with authors, glimpses behind-the-scenes of the writing process, and even bonus chapters not found in the book’s original text. (Think of it like a director’s commentary on a DVD, Blu-ray, or video game DLC.) No other audiobook streaming services can provide access to these extras because they live exclusively on Audible.

Audible Originals

Audible Originals go hand in hand with Audiobook Extras. These include exclusive streaming rights to popular audiobooks, original productions of new stories, streaming home for numerous Audible podcasts, and coveted Audible Originals like your favorite Netflix Originals or Prime exclusives. (And just as jam-packed with talent, too.) By collaborating with famous authors, celebrities, and content creators, Audible has one more leg up over competing audiobook services.

Summary Table

Subscription TiersAudible Plus and Audible Premium Plus with monthly credits and unlimited streaming
Whispersync for VoiceSeamless synchronization between Audible audiobooks and Kindle ebooks
Audiobook ExtrasAdditional content like author interviews, behind-the-scenes, and bonus chapters
Audible OriginalsExclusive audio productions, podcasts, and series for Audible members

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does Audible cost?

Audible offers two different membership tiers to suit varying preferences. Audible Premium is $7.95 a month, while Audible Premium Plus is $14.95 a month. Audiobooks can also be purchased à la carte for an additional fee depending on the price of the book.

How do I cancel my Audible subscription?

You can cancel your Audible membership anytime from your account settings. Follow the cancellation instructions and confirm the cancelation before exiting. Otherwise, you may incur charges again. If you cancel your membership, you will lose access to unused credits and previously purchased audiobooks. You can still access any books you’ve downloaded after cancellation.

Can you return audiobooks on Audible?

Yes, Audible offers a Great Listen Guarantee, which allows you to return or exchange audiobooks if you’re not completely satisfied with your purchase. If you encounter any issues or change your mind about a book, you can request a return or exchange within a specific timeframe (usually within 365 days of purchase).

Can you share Audible books with others?

Yes, Audible allows you to share your audiobooks with friends and family through the “Send this Book” feature. With this feature, you can send a specific audiobook from your library to someone else’s Audible account or email address. The recipient will receive a link to claim the audiobook, and they can listen to it using their Audible account or the Audible app.

Does Audible support languages other than English?

Yes, Audible offers a wide range of audiobooks in languages other than English. Audible has an extensive selection of audiobooks in different languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, and many more.

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