Dear Audible, How About a Device for Distraction-Free Listening?

unrecognizable female audiobook narrator recording audiobook
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

First, let me say I’m a big fan. It wasn’t always that way. I used to think that audiobooks just weren’t for me. But once I tried them, I quickly saw the error of my ways. I became an Audible subscriber in February 2013. Since then I have happily added more than 1,100 books to my Audible library. I love audiobooks. I love that they allow me to read while doing mundane things around the house, or while commuting. I love the dimension they add to a book with the narrator’s performance. I love their convenience, and the simplicity of the app. What bothers me today is all of the other distractions I find on my phone when I try to listen to audiobooks.

Remember when MP3 players first came out? They were these tiny, devices that could fit in the palm of your hand. They could hold maybe a dozen songs. They had a simple interface to select a song, play a song, move between tracks, and randomize the tracks. And control volume. That was it. When iPods first came out, they improved upon this. The interface was better. And you could download music, which was a game changer. But otherwise, all they did was play music. The iPhone is great, but these days, it does way too much. There is too much to distract me on my phone. Here is what I would love to see in the future:

I’d like a device like similar to the early iPods, except instead of music, you can download audiobooks from Audible. There are no other apps on this device. The device can hold a decent number of audiobooks, and has a good battery life, mainly because all it is doing is playing audiobooks. The interface for the device can essentially be what the Audible app is on the iPhone today. I can see my stats, browse my wishlist, buy books with credits, but mostly, I can listen to my audiobooks. The device should allow me to connect via bluetooth to the headset of my choosing. It should be a small device, like an old iPod. If you want it to come in different colors, I’m okay with that. It could run the Audible OS.

I think a device like this would be popular. It would allow me to listen to my audiobooks without having to have my phone nearby. These days, I take my phone to bed usually because I am listening to a book before I fall asleep. But if my phone is there, I will inevitably start browsing something and get distracted. An Audible device would prevent this. I could leave my phone in the office and still listen to my book. Granted, I could play my audiobook through Alexa and not be distracted, but then everyone else would have to listen along while Grover Gardner read Will Durant’s The Age of Reason Begins at 1.7x speed. The family already thinks I’m a little nutty. This might push them over.

Having a little device that would allow for distraction-free listening would be a perfect holiday gift. Think of all of the possibilities in such a device. You could have specially branded editions, like a black Neil Gaiman edition, or perhaps one in the shape of a dagger, the special Michael J. Sullivan edition. I don’t know that I’d want an author to sign my iPhone, but I could imagine having them sign my device. You could call it the “Narrator.” I think I’d use my Narrator a lot and use my iPhone a lot less. Just imagining it, I can see those distractions melting away.

Anyway, I humbly submit this idea to you, good people of Audible. Feel free to use the idea and build the device. I don’t even need to get one for free for coming up with the idea. I’d be more than happy to pay for such a device, if it existed.

Thanks for listening (see what I did there?).

Yours truly,

Jamie Todd Rubin

(Your #1 fan)

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