9 Reasons Audible is Worth it in 2021 (& 4 reasons it’s not)

Is Audible worth it? The short answer is yes, Audible is an excellent audiobook subscription service that is customer friendly, has a huge selection of audiobooks and excellent price-to-quality ratio.

That being said, Audible does have a few minor annoyances that are not deal-breakers, but can sometimes make the experience of using Audible frustrating.

Audible AdvantagesAudible Disadvantages
30 day free trial, with 1 free credit and access to another 10,000+ free audiobooksMobile app interface is frustrating (except audiobook player, which is excellent)
Audible has 250,000+ fiction audibooksNo personalized suggestion algorithm for new audiobooks; few features to discover audiobooks
Audible has 300,000+ non-fiction books & 100,000 podcastsYou don’t truly own audiobooks you’ve purchased
Affordable pricing, such as $7.95 or $14.95 per monthAudible not included in Amazon Prime, nor does it provide discount for Prime users
Amazing credit refund policy, can even refund finished audiobooks no questions asked! 
Excellent sound quality, all narrators are professional voice actors 
Plus Catalog: 10,000+ audiobooks that are free to listen & require no money / credits to obtain 
Vast number of user reviews makes it easy to know if an audiobook is good or not 
Audible does not have ads 
Listening time, badges and other fun stats 

How does Audible work

As mentioned in the table, the first step in using Audible is signing up for the 30-day free trial. This will provide you with:

  • 1 credit you can use to purchase any audiobook from Audible’s 500,000+ audiobooks, no matter how expensive they are.
  • Access to Plus Catalog, a library of 10,000+ audiobooks that are free and don’t require money/credits to purchase.

After the 30-day Free trial ends, you’ll have the option of subscribing either to

  • Audible Plus, at $7.95 per month, which has access only to the Plus Catalog, with 0 credits.
  • Audible Premium Plus plans, starting from $14.95, with access to Plus Catalog and 1 credit per month (or more, for more expensive plans).

Credits are very cost-effective ways to purchase audiobooks. The value of a credit ranges from $7-11, however you can use them to purchase books that are $40 or even more!

9 reasons Audible is worth it

Biggest library out of any audiobook service

Audible has hundreds of thousands of audiobooks in its library, so you’ll never really have to worry about finding something interesting to read, for any genre you can think of.

As an example, Audible has 41,000 titles in its Fantasy section, split into multiple subgenres.

Clicking on any one of those subgenres will repopulate the feed with relevant books.

As an example, the screenshot below shows only the first results in the Fantasy > Military subgenre.

Here are some more numbers on how many Audiobooks you can find for the biggest fiction categories:

  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense: 58,682 titles
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy: 57,233 titles
  • Literature & Fiction: 60,140 titles
  • Adult & Mature Oriented: 25,517 titles
  • Romance: 59,046 titles
  • Teen & Young Adult: 17,711 titles

Finally, Audible also comes with a library of some 100,000+ podcasts.

Equally large non-fiction audiobook library

Audible also has a sizeable library for non-fiction books as well, such as science, psychology, medicine, engineering, mathematics, etc.

In terms of numbers, Audible’s library is split roughly equally between non-fiction and fiction books.

  • History: 30,343 titles
  • Computers & Technology: 3,803 titles
  • Health & Wellness: 51,397 titles
  • Biographies & Memoirs: 47,081 titles
  • Business & Careers: 52,420 titles
  • Relationships, Parenting & Personal Development: 57,311 titles
  • Science & Engineering: 16,521 titles
  • Religion & Spirituality:  55,871 titles

Audible has an affordable price & excellent value

Audible has a free 30-day trial. During this trial, you will receive 1 credit to purchase any audiobook you want as well as access to Plus Catalog, a library of 10,000+ completely free audiobooks and podcasts. More on Plus Catalog further down the article.

If you happen to be an Amazon Prime subscriber, you will get 1 additional credit, meaning 2 total credits only for the duration of the free trial.

After the free trial, Audible offers multiple pricing tiers, depending on your audiobook listening preferences:

  • Audible Plus ($7.95 per month): Access to Plus Catalog, a library of 10,000+ audiobooks and podcasts that require no money or credits to purchase. No free credits, however.
  • Audible Premium Plus ($14.95 per month): Access to Plus Catalog, plus 1 credit per month to purchase any audiobook you would like.
  • Audible Premium Plus – 2 credits ($22.95 per month): Same as standard Premium Plus, except you get 2 monthly credits.
  • Audible Premium Plus Annual- 12 credits ($119.95 first year, $149.95 after that): Get 12 credits upfront and a $60 discount per year compared to Premium Plus monthly.
  • Audible Premium Plus Annual- 24 credits ($229.50 a year): Get 24 credits upfront and a $45 discount per year compared to Premium Plus – 2 credits.

Another important thing to mention is Audible’s amazing refund policy for credits. Basically, you can refund any audiobooks (even finished ones!), and reuse the credit to buy a different audiobook.

This credit refund policy is extremely generous and allows you to listen to multiple books with the same credit. More on the credit refund policy further along the article.

Sound and narrator quality

Audible has strict quality guidelines for any audiobook published on the platform. For example, audiobooks must have near 0 background noise (the recording must essentially be silent unless the narrator speaks), with no accidental pops or clicks.

Next, Audible encodes all audio in its proprietary encoding format called Enhanced format or .aax. Enhanced format encodes sound at 64kbps and is rated as having CD-quality sound.

A cool feature is that you can decrease or increase the playback speed without any noticeable loss in sound quality.

This feature is so good, that at lower playback speeds (0.8x to 1.4x), narrators still sound entirely natural and believable. You wouldn’t be able to tell the audiobook was sped up/down unless somebody pointed it out to you.

This is an excellent feature, because you might find some narrators a bit too slow or too fast, and the playback speed feature fixes this without sacrificing audio quality.

Even at higher playback speeds (1.5x or above), there’s no sound distortion, altered pitch, or weird background noises. Narrators will have a funny voice after 1.7x playback speed, but that’s to be expected.

As for the narrators, they are all professional voice actors. This means you won’t find yourself listening to a new audiobook, only to discover it’s narrated by an amateur in their spare time.

That being said, some narrators are better than others – even if all are professionals. So do be prepared for some variation in this regard.

Finally, you can choose between Standard and High quality when downloading an audiobook, with the caveat that higher quality requires more storage.

Audible Originals and Included audiobooks

Through its licensing deals, Audible has created a separate collection of over 10,000 audiobooks called Plus Catalog.

All Audible subscribers, regardless of their subscription plan, can save, download and listen to any book in the Plus Catalog entirely for free, without spending any credits on them.

You can recognize if a book is in the Plus Catalog by the INCLUDED tag in its description.

This Plus Catalog is sizeable and has hundreds, sometimes thousands, of books in a particular subgenre.

Many of the audiobooks in the Plus Catalog are also Audible Originals. These have high-quality sound, and are in-house productions by Audible Studios, and are often narrated by Hollywood actors such as Collin Farrell or Bryan Cranston.

These Originals are exclusive to Audible and are all included in the Plus Catalog.

In real-world use, Plus Catalog increases your buying power by providing a large and growing library of free audiobooks, while saving your credits for expensive audiobooks that are not included in the Plus Catalog.

Amazing credit refund policy

Audible has a fantastic return policy for audiobooks you’ve purchased with credits.

Essentially, Audible allows you to return any audiobook you’ve purchased within 1 year after spending a credit on it.

You can return audiobooks you haven’t even opened, audiobooks you’ve only read a few chapters from, and even audiobooks you’ve listened in full.

Because of this extremely generous refund policy, you can buy and refund multiple audiobooks with a single credit.

That being said, if you return an audiobook too many times, the feature will get disabled and you’ll have to manually contact an Audible customer support rep to refund your credit.

For this particular user, “too many times” means 6 refunded audiobooks purchased with the same credit.

So the refund system does have some limits in place, but with normal usage, you likely won’t ever reach them.

Because of Audible’s awesome return policy, you’ll never have to worry if an audiobook will be good or not, since you can always refund it, get your credit back, and try another audiobook.

One last thing to mention about returns is that the audiobook publisher and/or author swallows up the refund cost, not Audible. In other words, abusing the refund feature will take money away from the small guys that create audiobooks and record them, instead of the giant, Amazon-owned Audible.

Almost every audiobook has numerous written reviews

Audible has a vast userbase, and one major advantage of this is that even obscure audiobooks have a healthy number of reviews that can help you decide if they’re worth listening to or not.

As an example, the audiobook Monster Core is part of an adult-oriented subgenre called dungeon defender and harem core. This subgenre is very niche and out of the mainstream, so it flies under the radar for the majority of users.

And yet, within a few years the audiobook has been rated more than 400 times and has quite a few written reviews, some more informative than others.

Just a few example reviews

More well-known books have tens of thousands of star rating reviews and hundreds of written ones.

If you’re the type that wants to know as much as possible about a book before reading it, Audible is a great place.  Because of its vast number of reviews, you can rely on the collective judgment of hundreds of other readers to help you decide on an audiobook.

Audible does not have ads

Audible does not have any sort of ads. You’ll never have to worry an ad will take up valuable space within the app, or that your listening experience will be interrupted by a 2-for-1 burger promotion at your local restaurant. 

It’s just you, the audiobook, and the narrator that keeps you company without any other distractions.

Listening time, badges, and stats

Audible has a neat feature that logs how much time you’ve spent listening to audiobooks in total, as well as a per day and per month breakdown.

It would be nice if you could have the listening time segmented based on genre, time of day, average length of books, etc. To be fair, Audible probably doesn’t do this because most users don’t care that much (with the exception of statistics geeks), so it’s not that big of a deal.

Another feature is the “badges” you can earn while using the app. These badges are handed out whenever you complete a certain challenge.

There are no practical benefits to completing challenges and acquiring badges. It’s just a light-hearted, fun feature that can draw a smile with how silly some challenges are worded.

4 reasons Audible is not worth it

The mobile app interface is frustrating to use

Audible’s mobile user interface is a mixed bag and is at the same time both easy and frustrating to use.

The UI of the audiobook player itself is very good and contains all the necessary features you need either right in front of you, or one tap away in the three-dot menu on the righthand corner.

Two excellent features are the “Sleep Timer” button, which automatically stops playback after X time passed, and the “+ Bookmark” button, which adds a bookmark at the time of click and even attaches a note to it.

However, the headaches start whenever you leave the audiobook player interface.

The biggest issue is that the app is inconsistent. For example, the My Library section of the app loads up in the native, dark-theme mode of the app.

However, when opening up the Wishlist section, the Audible app becomes a browser and opens up the mobile website version, instead of a native-style app screen.

You’ll encounter this issue all across the app. Some features are opened natively in the app, others load up a mobile web page.

Besides the visual inconsistency, the mobile web pages load slightly slower than a regular native screen.

This is especially noticeable when browsing for a new audiobook to listen to, because they load up as a mobile web page, instead of natively.

After visiting 10-15 audiobook pages, you really start to notice the extra loading times and how tedious the process is.

Not only that, but using the Back button / gesture on mobile web pages throws you back to the app’s homescreen, instead of the previous screen. This is annoying when you want to close a pop-up with the Back button / gesture, only to have the app kick you out of the page entirely.

Then there’s the fact that administrative settings (profile, wish lists, purchase history, pre-orders, payment methods, etc.) are all buried under various overlapping menus and submenus that are hard to navigate.

Overall, the app’s UI will do what you want it to do, but you will have to “work” it first. It’s not a fun or fluid experience, but it gets the job done eventually.

The only exception to this is the audiobook player itself, which is excellent.

Discovering new audiobooks is tedious

Audible has hundreds of thousands of audiobooks, but finding a new audiobook to listen to can be surprisingly tedious.

The biggest issue is that there’s no personalized algorithm for suggesting new audiobooks, such as YouTube has for videos, Spotify for songs, or Netflix for TV shows & films.

The closest thing to it is a sliding panel on an individual audiobook page called “Listeners also enjoy…” which shows a few suggestions.

As a result, you’re forced to rely on the in-app Search engine to sift through thousands of titles and find the next audiobook to listen to.

This wouldn’t be a problem, but the Search feature isn’t very smart. It works well if you type in (near) exact terms such as “harry potter” but completely breaks down if you search for something more complex such as “books like harry potter”:

The Search engine does have some filters that can help you narrow down what you’re looking for, such as Category & Subcategory, Length, Abridgement, Format (Audiobook, Lecture, Podcast), etc.

Unfortunately, even the Search filtering could use more options. For instance, you can’t filter audiobooks based on average ratings (total, narrator or story), number of total ratings, award winning books etc.

In real-life use, it’s much easier to find new audiobook suggestions on sites such as Goodreads or Google, then see if they’re available on Audible.

You don’t really OWN the audiobooks

With any digital media whether it’s digital copies of movies, music you buy from iTunes, ebooks you buy from Amazon, or audiobooks from Audible, you don’t actually “own” the item even if you paid for it. You are actually buying a license to use the file.

Thus, if a publisher or author removes their audiobook from Audible, then that audiobook disappears from your library and you can’t listen to it again, even if you paid for it.

The only exception is if you downloaded the audiobook to your device before it was removed. Audible won’t touch audiobook downloads already on your device so those are safe (until you run out of storage space).

What makes this even more problematic is that Audible will not notify you if an audiobook you paid for was removed. You essentially have to keep track of the audiobook library yourself, or else risk losing out on credits you pay a subscription for.

To Audible’s merit, however, their customer support will always refund credits if this happens to you.

So how often does this happen? In close to 2 years, this user had 2 books out of 60 or so removed from their library. Both books were bought using credits, and both credits were quickly refunded.

To be fair, this lack of ownership over digital products isn’t isolated to Audible. It’s a feature of the digital economy and you’ll encounter the same problem with every other such platform, be it Apple iTunes, Steam (video games), Google Play etc.

Audible is not included for free in Amazon Prime

Unfortunately, Amazon Plus subscribers don’t get access to Audible for free, as they do with Amazon Prime Video.

You can argue this is nitpicking, but it would have been nice if Amazon at least allowed you to add Audible as an add-on to Prime at a discounted rate (like an extra $6-7 to your monthly Prime subscription).

As it currently stands, the only benefit Audible gives to Amazon Prime subscribers is that they get 2 credits instead of 1 during their free trial period. That’s pretty much it.

Maybe in the future Amazon will bundle up the two subscriptions together, but until then separate subscriptions is how it has to be.