So, I’ve talked about #Audiblegate before (you can find the previous posts here and here) and its deceptive “exchange policy” that are actually returns in disguise, but here’s a quick recap. Audible is using its platform as an lending library instead of a selling platform and allowing customers to return audiobooks in exchange for a another free book. They can do this up to a year after purchase, no questions asked, and, although they state there are limits on how many books can be “exchanged”, those limits are not being enforced and their system is being liberally used by customers.
How are they allowing this you ask? By not paying authors their royalties. Audible is making money on this free book “exchange” and authors are losing money. This policy may be legal, but that doesn’t mean Audible aren’t crooks.
This is why indie authors, including myself, are leaving Audible, and it’s distributing arm, ACX, to go wide. And I’m here to discuss why audiobook listeners may want to switch as well. (As far as I know, the following information is correct, but if I’ve made an error, feel free to correct any mistakes).
What Audible has to offer: They are a subscription service that costs $7.95 USD a month for their Plus service or $14.95 USD a month for their Premium Plus service. Their Plus service does not include the one complimentary title of your choice per month via a credit. They also have audiobook exclusives for these programs. On the surface this is a good deal, and to some respects it is. Their Plus service is cheaper than most other programs, but they promote the Premium Plus and most people I’ve observed seem to sign up for the for expensive plan for the free credit a month. It also seems to be difficult to cancel your membership; I’ve heard of several cases where Audible has dragged its feet in letting it’s members depart. Books are available through an app.
What Kobo.com has to offer: Now here’s where it gets interesting. Kobo has essentially the same membership plan as Audible’s Premium Plus, but it costs $9.99 USD. It also has exclusive content called Kobo Originals, and will soon have a lot more indie authors. Books are available through an app and I believe this site caters to a wide variety of countries.
What Chirp has to offer: Now Chirp (BookBub’s audiobook arm) is currently only available in the US, but the scuttlebutt is that it will be expanding into Canadian and UK markets soon. Now Chirp isn’t a subscription service (which I like) and is excellent for occasional audiobook listeners, people who hate subscription services, or readers who want to test the audiobook waters. Plus they heavily discount their audiobooks, so you can pick up deals for the same price as an ebook. Books are available through an app.
What Audiobooks.com has to offer: Also, a subscription service, for 14.95 USD (the same price as Audible) you get the choice of 1 free premium + 1 free VIP selection book every month, as well as access to special member deals and discounts. Books are available through an app.
What Authors Direct has to offer: This is a direct download app. Authors upload their book and consumers buy direct though the app. It is available in the US, Canada, U.K., Europe, or Australia. I don’t currently have the app, so I’m not sure on prices, but I would assume they fluctuate depending on how each author prices their product. But this app is how Findaway Voices (the major wide audiobook distributor) dispenses its promo codes. So if you like free books from authors, this may be worth a look.
What Nook has to offer: Nook is not a subscription service and you purchase per book. It seems to be the most expensive option, although they do seem to offer some discounting. Books are available through an app.
What Google Play has to offer: Honestly, I’m a bit confused as to how this one works, but it seems to to be another buy per book site. And they seem to have discounts here and there.
And there are other numerous smaller sites such as Scribd, 24Symbols, Bingebooks, Audiobooks NZ, and more, all with their own benefits and cons.
And there is one more option: Libraries. Authors and publishers that have gone wide have most likely distributed their audiobooks to libraries. So if you need free audiobooks, see if your local library has an audiobook option, and if they have, request your books through them. Actual libraries (unlike Audible’s faux lending library system) pay authors for the right to distribute their books. So you get to listen to a book for free and authors and narrators get to earn a living.
And if you’d like to check out my audiobook on any of these alternative sites, pop over to my audiobook page for the links.