The Curse of Amazon Audible

This year wasn’t just the year I read the most books, it was also the year I listened to the most audio books. Most of these I read through Amazon’s Audible program, as it handles a lot of professional audiobooks as well as books for more indie titles by authors who are just starting out or whose writing styles might be enjoyable to me yet not have caught on to the mainstream yet. There’s a lot of great stories to listen to here, and I can’t help but recommend them… even as I struggle every month to cancel. It’s a tricky thing. Let me explain.

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Amazon Audible is first and foremost a subscription service. For a monthly or yearly fee, individuals get access to one “token” for a book in a given month, and then access to up to two “Audible Originals” – books that the company specifically curates. Individuals who read more can purchase more tokens.

However, in my case, I haven’t used a token in four months. When there’s an audio book I want, I usually buy the e-book for it, so that I can read along with the audio book or so that I can read the book when unable to listen. This is not an uncommon situation when I’m at work and want to steal a few pages read in between a project, but can’t pull out earphones and listen to the narration proper. Often, when an individual wants to purchase the audiobook and they already have the electronic version, they get a discount. I’ve often found it more worthwhile to just do this.

In fact, I’d argue the biggest benefit to the Amazon Audible subscription service, for me, is that the monthly cost is quickly paid by how much I save on the price of audio books that I already own a written copy of. For that, it seems silly to cancel on its own.

Of course, even if I wanted to, cancelling Audible means I would lose all of the credits I have currently not used. This seems strange to me, but Amazon doesn’t allow people to hold on to the credits they get as part of their subscription service. I would, essentially, have to panic and choose something to spend them all on before cancelling. In fairness, there is an option to pause payments for the service for up to 90 days, but this seems like a rather strange hassle to hold on to a perk the customer has already paid for. (Then again, these credits also go away after a given time, usually about a year after issued, so there’s that.)

Still, I’m not aware of any solid competition out there. Outside of the spare podcast or fan work, there doesn’t appear to be any major competition, especially when it comes to the indie market. So for better or worse, it looks like I’m stuck with an Amazon Audible subscription. A lot of these more professional productions have also given me an idea of what I should be working on if I wish to continue voice over narration, so there’s that to consider as well.

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