This review is a bit over 4 years old now. I have left the main review in place and just added some of the new features at the top.
Since Amazon purchased Audible they have been actively working to increase the integration of kindle books and audiobooks. This has happened several ways. The most obvious is the whisper sync for voice that started in Sept 2012. There are now nearly 60,000 books that allow you to switch back and forth between kindle and audio versions without losing your place. This requires you to own both the kindle and audible versions, but a significant number of books have audiobook discounts with purchase of Kindle Book. This only works if you buy the kindle book first.
Amazon has a tool to help you find audiobooks that have the ability to sync. The Match tool is a bit of a pain, especially if you have a large kindle library, but it can help you find the books that have discounts.
Also just recently, Amazon has made purchasing the audiobook even easier by putting the option on the Kindle page directly.
Because so many books have audiobook discounts, it is often cheaper to buy both the kindle book and the audiobook together than it is to buy the audiobook by itself, especially if you are not a member. This makes membership a less attractive option for many. I am not sure if I am going to renew my own membership, now that I am actively using Scribd. That being said, buying an audiobook with membership credits with the largest membership plan is just over $9 and is quite often the cheapest method of purchasing a book.
Audible also has very good customer support and gives a guarantee on all of its books. If you end up not liking a book, they will give you a credit to use on a new book.
If you have read many of my reviews you have probably seen that many of the books I read are audiobooks. I love audiobooks. I like that, a good audiobook draws you into the story in a way that just reading does not do. Many non-fiction authors write in a form that is more oriented to the spoken word than the written. I will probably never read Rob Bell, Eugene Peterson and Orson Scott Card in print again. All three are authors that seem to scream for an audio version.
Audible.com have been around since 1999 and I have been a member since 2003. I have hundreds of books from Audible. They advertise that they are the “Leading Provider in Digital Spoken Audio”. That is marketing speak that means they have an almost monopoly on downloadable audiobook. Audible has more than 100,000 books now.
This store review will have almost nothing negative to say. I think their DRM (Digital Rights Management) is reasonable. They allow concurrent activation of six devices (although there are exceptions to this and you can get more devices activated if you ask) so your family can share the account. Also if you have a smart phone (iPhone, blackberry, windows mobile, palm, symbian and some java equipted non-smart phones) allow you to download your books directly to your phone. I have discovered through trial and error that phones are not charged against your six devices, I presume because they can be replaced so often and require OS wipes so much. I have never come across a time when I could not listen to an audiobook when I wanted to. In my mind, that is the goal of a good DRM system, one that does not get in the road of the person trying to consume the product.
I am a part of the Platinum Plan, $229 a year for 24 books. That ends up being less than $10 a book. Which is often cheaper than what I can get the book on kindle and quite often cheaper than paperback. Included in the Platinum plan is a daily summary of either the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. The summaries are quite good and about 1 hour in length. I just don’t have time to listen to them, but if you would it is a great benefit. This past year I have also received about six free books (in addition to the 24). Only 1 or 2 would I have purchased on my own, but free is always nice.
Other plans are cheaper, and have less books, but are also monthly. So you get either 1 or 2 books a month and you have to use that book that month. There is a rollover if you don’t use the book, but only up to six books. So potentially you can loose books if you don’t use them. Since I am at the highest level plan I get all 24 credits when I sign up and do not have to worry about when they expire. And then when I run out of credits I just renew my membership, even if my year is not yet over.
If you are just signing up now, Amazon will give you $100 credit toward the purchase of a kindle or music player or audio enabled GPS (click for more info). The offer is good through January 31, 2012. And it has been renewed for the past several years so it will likely stick around after that. I get lots of people ask me how I read so many books. My main answer is audiobooks. Certainly not all, and probably not even half, of the books I read are audio, but most of the time I spend listening to audiobooks is while I am doing something else.