Last month I signed up for a free Audible trial. I realized how much time it was taking me to read books, and I decided that the $15.00 per month would be worth it, if it bought me more time.
After we got back from our trip to Florida, it was time to select my first paid audio book. I wanted to get the best value for my money, so I made a wish list of titles that were over 20 hours in length. Essentially, I would be paying $0.75 per hour or less to read a book to me. I thought that was worth it.
Then, out of those books, I wrote down all of the books with a regular (actually, discounted for Audible members) price of more than $30.00. Out of these 14 books, I picked out the "top three"- that is, the three books with the most hours AND top dollar value. The best value was David McCullough's Truman, with a price of $66.11 and playback time of 54 hours. Wow! A monetary savings of $51.11, and an hourly reading rate of just $0.28.
Running Into Problems
You would think that choice would be a no-brainer, but I realized later that I didn't actually want to spend 50 hours listening to a story about President Truman. There were FREE podcasts and audiobooks that I would much rather listen to. So, I went back to my list. Still, most of the books were history books. I wondered if I could find books in any other genres to listen to.
Instead of spending another three hours browsing Audible, I went to Amazon and typed in some of my favorite keywords. Then I scrolled down the list of books, looking for those with an Audible edition. I found two, and then went to Audible to read the reviews.
One of the books, as it turns out, had a lot of good reviews, but I didn't think it was what I wanted for $15.00. The other book had a lot of good reviews as well, but many listeners said it would be better to buy the paperback, as it was in more of a workbook format. So I passed on those two books.
I spent probably another hour looking for audio books that I liked. The problem I kept running into was that the price on Audible was less than $15.00. If I was paying $15.00 per month for a subscription, it didn't make sense to buy a $14.00 book. But then again, if I DIDN'T have the subscription, my price for most of those books would go up to $20.00 or more.
So, I went back to the history books on my list. When I started looking up the Audible reviews, there was one last issue. Commenters said, "The book sounds like Siri is reading it" or "This was their worst day in the studio- ever". Finally I found a book that cost more than $15.00, sounded interesting, and had good Audible reviews. I used my credit to buy it. It only had a monetary value of $17.95, and under 20 hours of playback time, so it would not have made my first list. But, oh well.
Not Sure if I Will Continue
My first real Audible subscription purchase didn't live up to my expectations. I wanted to buy books that I were already on my reading list, but most of the paperback books on my shelf are not available in audio format. They are either too old, too niche, or too short to warrant spending my $15.00 credit on.
Instead of spending five hours on the couch reading, I spent over five hours on the computer, trying to find a suitable book to buy. This thing was supposed to SAVE time, not waste it!! For next month's purchase, I have created a few guidelines.
1) It must be something I would enjoy reading.
2) Preferably a book on my shelf right now, that I will not have time to sit down and read.
3) The book must cost more than $15.00 on Audible.
Instead of making a wish list from the high-value books, then, I am going to buy a book already on my bookshelf. I will probably end up paying around $1.00 per hour for someone to read to me, but if I can do a $5.00 per hour activity while listening to an Audible book, I'll still be "earning" $4.00 per hour.
In the long term, I think it would be more frugal to pay for paperback books and listen to FREE audio.
The Good News For Non-Members
The good news for all of you non-members of Audible is that you can find a LOT of cheap or free audio to listen to without paying $15.00 per month. Amazon Prime members have access to Audible's "channels", which often include free audio books as well as podcast-type material. Then there are also free podcasts on Stitcher and iTunes to listen to.
Lastly- and this is a hack I learned before our road trip- you can "buy" a free ebook version of older classic books on Amazon, and get the Audible version for a few dollars. I downloaded David Copperfield (Kindle version) on Amazon for free, and then bought the 36 hour Audible version for $0.95. If I had bought ONLY the Audible version, it would have cost my $15.00 credit, $2.00 with an Audible membership, or $40.00 without an Audible membership. My total cost per hour for David Copperfield, then, was under $0.03 per hour.
If you are in the market for good, classic fiction (pre-1910's), it's easy to find, and very cheap. Non-fiction audio books are a little harder to be frugal about, but you can still find pre-1910's non-fiction on Audible for cheap, a tiny bit of modern non-fiction on Audible Channels (for Amazon Prime members), and a lot of modern non-fiction audio though free podcasts.
Obviously, if money is tight, then borrowing non-fiction through your local library is going to be the best option. Second, find a cheap used paperback version on Amazon. If the used version is still not cheap, you can still buy it, read the book, and resell it on Amazon if the value hasn't gone down too much. Usually I only buy Kindle books if they 1) are free, 2) aren't available at the library, or 3) if they cost less than $5.00. It's important to remember that Kindle books have no resale value, so you MUST get your money's worth out of reading the book. Lastly, I check if the audio book would be cheaper with the purchase of an ebook. For modern non-fiction, though, usually it is just cheaper to buy the audio book if that is what you want.
Are you an Audible member? How to you chose which books to buy and how do you get the best value?