My Rediscovery of Audible.com i.e. “The Joy of Digital Audio Books”

image I’m a regular listener of about 12 podcasts including Windows Weekly featuring Paul Thurrott.  One of the sponsors of his podcast is AUDIBLE.COM, a digital audio book store which I used to pitch heavily back in the day when I did a lot of Windows Mobile sales stuff. 

Paul’s podcast keeps pitching AUDIBLE on the program so I decided to check it out again since my wife spends a lot of time just sitting with the baby and she could really use audio books during this time.  And besides, I haven’t actively visited the AUDIBLE.COM site since the early 2000’s.

NOT MUCH TO LISTEN TO BACK IN THE DAY
The problem I had with AUDIBLE.COM back in the day (and we’re talking about back in 1999-2001) was that there was really not a whole lot out there that I found interesting in digital audio book form.  It didn’t warrant me docking my device day after day to download content from the site.  Not even weekly.  I’d buy something then I’d forget about it.  The only thing that really seemed like it might be compelling enough to ‘dock every day’ was the Los Angeles Times, read daily.  The problem was that if you missed a day, the content was worthless.  Who wants to read yesterday’s news?

And with regard to normal books, I’d just as well simply buy the Audio Book on CD from Amazon.com then rip the thing if I ever really wanted to get an Audio book.

ENTER PODCASTS!
But along came podcasts.  It didn’t require visiting a special web site to get new audio content – just an RSS feed URL.  And sure enough, the content from these were worth downloading and archiving because they didn’t get “stale” like newspapers did.  All of a sudden, there was a reason to dock my device (a Zune 120GB or a Zune 8GB Flash) on a semi-frequent basis to my PC.  Podcasts were available with new content.

Soon I concluded that if I’m going to download all that new podcast content, I might as well do the same with AUDIBLE.COM.  After all, paid content is usually BETTER than free content in general so why not get both if there’s a compelling reason to dock your device.

image WHOA.  THINGS HAVE CHANGED A BIT.
Next thing I know, I’m looking at my old AUDIBLE.COM account (Ancient!  Had to look up my old password in my files) and I’m seeing stuff available like “Super Freakonomics” (sequel to Freakonomics) and “Lost Symbol” by Dan Brown.  Hmmm.  Must check those out.  And they’re available in some kind of new “Enhanced Format” which purports to be CD quality – i.e. 192kbps, 44.1khz.  Cool.  “Lost Symbols” price was $35.

Wait a second.  $35 AN AUDIO BOOK?!?  WTF Audible?  Audio books suddenly got way expensive on me!  I don’t recall audio books costing this much on AUDIBLE.COM.  At these prices, I might as well go get the tangible Audio CD from Barnes and Noble because there doesn’t appear to be much benefit from going “digital”.

WHAT’S THIS SUBSCRIPTION THING?
Then I notice this subscription thing.  Apparently, they now sell Audio books on a subscription – specifically an “AudibleListener GOLD MONTHLY imageSubscription”.  You can buy 1 audio book every month for a year for $14.95, which locks you into paying at least $179.40 total for 12 books (1 each month) but at $15 each, you basically save yourself $20 on most major Audio books since they usually cost $35 each.

Now the REAL deal comes when you try this “AudibleListener PLATINUM ANNUAL Subscription”.  This PLATINUM deal nets you 24 books that you can download anytime you want instead of 1 each month, and better yet, the cost is $229.  This is obviously the most flexible and cost effective deal being that each book comes out to be about $9.90 instead of paying $35.00 each.

This is what I opted for.  I now have 22 “credits” left since I picked up both “Super Freakonomics” and “Lost Symbol”.

OTHER BENEFITS
It turns out that as a “subscriber” or “member” you get a bunch of additional “free stuff” like free books occasionally or free “first chapters” to whet your appetite.
http://www.audible.com/adbl/site/template/members/FreeForMembers.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes

The “big one” is you get free M-F subscription to either the New York Times Audio Digest (the NYT read aloud for your morning drive into work) or the Wall Street Journal Audio Digest.  This is normally a $49/year for each.  I should know – I used to subscribe to it way back in 1999.

Another benefit is that all books that you purchased beyond your cap (24 books in my case) are 30% off.

CONCLUSION
I really like my rediscovery of Audible.  Something else that blew me away was that apparently AUDIBLE was acquired by Amazon.com some time ago.  Didn’t even realize that.

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