What Is Audible? 4 Important Things You Should Know

If you’ve ever wondered “What is Audible?” then you’re not alone – here’s your complete guide.

The year 1997 was remarkable in many ways: Frank Sinatra had a heart attack, and someone stole a Picasso from a London gallery. Queen Elizabeth II knighted Paul McCartney, and a couple of California nerds registered the domain Google.com.

But perhaps most importantly (at least for our purposes), the very first digital audio player made its debut. Goodbye, books on tape … Audible.com had arrived, and it ushered in a whole new listening experience for the masses.

Wondering what it is and how it works? Here’s your handy guide.

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What is Audible?

What Is Audible?
Audible also offers podcasts, magazines and newspapers

Audible is a listening platform that enables you to choose from around 100,000 audiobook titles and download them onto your phone, tablet or computer. Once downloaded, you can listen to them offline, which means your audiobooks will work on planes and in areas without Wi-Fi.

It comes in a range of membership options, discussed below. Many people use it as their only listening platform, while others combine it with Overdrive or other apps that let listeners borrow audiobooks from schools and libraries.

Audible is widely supported. Phone OS types include iOS, Android and Windows. At-home listening systems include Sonos, Fire TV and Alexa.

The app also works on Kindle, Kindle Oasis and Kindle Fire tablets, as well as computers and all other main tablet systems.

Most people don’t know that in addition to books, Audible also offers podcasts, magazines and newspapers. Although the selection is not nearly as wide as its standard book titles, these options widen the listening content considerably.

How Does Buying Books Through Audible Work?

Audible audiobook service
Audible significantly reduces the price of owning audiobooks

The main selling points of Audible are that it significantly reduces the price of owning audiobooks and that you can instantly get any new title. This solves two main problems that readers face:

  1. When you try to borrow a new release from a library, you’re likely to wind up number 56 in the queue, waiting on only four titles.
  2. If you want to buy the audiobook online, it can cost anywhere in the $15-$30 range, even for a digital product.

Audible neatly solves this by offering its users a tiered membership plan:

  • Audible Plus: $7.95/month for unlimited access to titles in the Plus catalogue, which is exclusive to Audible
  • Audible Premium Plus – 1 credit: $14.95/month for the Audible Plus catalogue and one credit per month
  • Audible Premium Plus – 2 credits: $22.95/month for the Plus catalogue and two credits per month
  • Audible Premium Plus Annual – 12 credits: $149.50/year for the Plus catalogue and 12 credits a year
  • Audible Premium Plus Annual – 24 credits: $229.50/year for the Plus catalogue and 24 credits a year

If you wish, you can purchase additional titles on Amazon, just as you would if you didn’t have the membership. As you can see, there truly is a package for everyone. If you decide you want to try it, you can start your free trial here.

Are Audible and Kindle Unlimited the Same?

This is a question that crops up frequently. The short answer is no, Audible and Kindle are different reading/listening apps.

Kindle Unlimited (KU) is an ebook membership plan that allows you to choose from 2 million titles. It also offers magazine subscriptions and audiobooks numbering in the thousands, all of which you can access through a Kindle device or app.

With the KU plan, you have access to ten titles at a time, which you can keep in your library as long as you want. To get more, you’ll have to return some items. Kindle Unlimited and audiobooks do cross over in a couple of places:

  1. Some books offer free companion versions through WhisperSync, a different listening platform, so you can switch between reading and listening to the same title.
  2. Some Audible books are available through KU, though you shouldn’t expect to find the same wealth of titles as you would through the main platform.

Returning Audible Audiobooks

You do not have to return Audible books in the sense that you would have to return them to a library. When you get a title, it is yours to keep – even if you cancel your membership plan. The exception is Audible Plus content, which will disappear after you cancel.

Some people wonder what to do if they want to return a book they didn’t like or are having trouble with. That’s a different story, and Audible has a very user-friendly return policy. Simply go to the book, click on the list of options select return, then tell Audible why you want to get rid of it. Options include:

  • Not liking the book
  • Not getting what you expected
  • Purchasing the wrong title
  • Having trouble downloading it

Typically, you will get an email within a day or two confirming that you have returned the title and will get your money back.

How to Cancel Audible

If you decide you want to cancel your membership, just follow a few basic steps. Note these work the same for all users regardless of device type and plan level.

Step 1. Use Any Remaining Credits

Credits disappear when you cancel, so make sure you use up any you have left. You’ll be able to listen to those books after you cancel.

Step 2. Cancel

On the Audible website or in the app, go to Account Details. Follow the prompt to cancel your membership.

Step 3. Track Billing

You should get an email saying your membership was canceled. Be sure to check your last Audible billing date and make sure you’re not billed again on that date the following month.

The Final Word on What Is Audible?

When it comes to Audible, the final word is pretty simple: It’s still the gold-standard listening platform out there. The huge number of audiobooks makes it easy to get titles you want, even new ones. At worst, you do the free trial and don’t like it, then cancel before billing commences.

FAQs About What Is Audible

Is Audible free through Amazon Prime?

No, Audible is not free through Amazon Prime. Prime members do, however, get two titles free during the 30-day trial period. That’s opposed to the one that everyone else gets. When it comes to the books or membership plans themselves, though, there aren’t any discounts for Prime members.

Is Audible ever buggy?

Yes. In fact, Audible is known to work significantly better with iPhone than it does with Android, whose users complain at higher rates. It’s not clear what causes this difference, but some Android users do ultimately cancel and sign up for another platform for this reason.

Of course, even iPhone users may experience bugs. Luckily, Audible does have reasonably good customer service if you call or email, though you shouldn’t expect an email response for a day or two.

Can I restart my membership?

Yes, you can restart at any time with a new membership plan and the same library.

Further Reading