At the beginning of the year, Audible - an Amazon company - launched its membership-based services in Australia (audible.com.au) offering the first month's subscription for free with an ongoing monthly payment of $14.95 thereafter. This gives you one free downloadable audiobook of your choice each month along with access to discounted prices on a selection of digital titles and other members-only promotions often including free downloads.
Audible, which Amazon purchased back in 2008, is the number one provider of digital audiobooks for download offering over 150,000 titles, periodicals, radio and TV shows in the US. But let’s have a look at what the benefits and drawbacks of an Australian Audible account are with regards to the content and features available to members on this side of the globe.
Price - Audible has a wide selection of popular, high quality digital audiobooks including bestsellers from local and international publishers across the usual bookstore categories (mystery, sci-fi, self-help, romance, bio, business, kids, etc.). With the subscription it seems that you can typically save around 50% off local market prices on these audio file downloads (compared to Bookworld, Booktopia, Audio Books Direct, etc.).
Setup - As Audible is an Amazon company, you can use your Amazon account to sign up and cancel your subscription very easily. Once you've subscribed for the $14.95 monthly membership you'll get one credit per month, each of which will entitle you to download a book for free. However, if you do not have the time to use up your credits or prefer to wait for a new release, you can "save up" over time as they do roll over to the following months. Audible Australia also offers free samples for each audiobook, so you can listen to it before making a decision.
Audible app - The Audible app can be downloaded onto your smartphone and digital files are compatible with Android, iOS, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Kindle and even Blackberry platforms. Once you've downloaded/purchased an audiobook, they’re yours forever. This even applies should you decide to cancel your subscription. The app itself has many useful features, besides serving as a portable library, such as changing the playback speed, bookmarking and letting you add notes.
Limited selection - which seems to go for both the library and subscription plans. While it’s a great addition to have plenty of Australian titles advertised, the library is not nearly as comprehensive as Audible’s US version of the service, yet. Audible is available in many countries (heads up for those looking for ebooks in a foreign language) but they all have a regional restriction, just like iTunes. There is a way around that though, which despite being a bit of a hassle is likely to be worth it for many. Being Amazon when you log in your store is tied to the address/country which you initially set up in the account. Therefore, if you change your address to one at a location you wish to access content from, Audible will recognise you as a customer from that region. And because these audiobooks are all digital downloads, there aren't any of the complications sometimes associated with the shipping of physical products.
Subscription plans/ automatic renewal - as of now there’s only one plan available in Australia, which is the $14.95 for one free book a month vs. the US where you can choose from two monthly (1 book for $14.95 or 2 books for $22.95) or two annual plans (12 books for $149.50 or 24 books for $229.50). If you do have a US or a UK audible account, unfortunately you can not transfer your credits and will have to cancel your account and set up a new one instead. On the plus side, you’ll get your first month's subscription for free. If you do not wish to continue your membership, don’t forget to cancel which by default renews automatically each month.
Overall, in my opinion Audible is a good service with superb ratings. It is also very useful having the try-before-you-buy option of a free month trial, not to mention the significant discounts you'll be getting on all digital audiobooks available on the market. So with no upfront costs required to see what it's all about, there really isn't any reason not to at least try it out for your yourself.
Don't forget to check Buckscoop for Audible coupon codes to get further discounts and special prices on your subscription too.