Tag: Audible

Audiobook Economics

black samsung tablet computer
Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

Recently, Audible had a site-wide sale where everything on the site was up-to 85% off. I love sales like these because they are a feeding-frenzy for buying books. But to make the most effective use of such a sale requires a bit of skill. I picked up more than a dozen audiobooks in the latest sale, and I thought I’d use that as an example of audibook economics that I have picked up in the 9+ years I have been using Audible.

The first thing to understand is my subscription to the Audible service: I have the Audible Premium Plus subscription. This subscription entitles me to 2 credits each month, a 30% discount of the prices of Audiobooks, access to anything in the “Plus” catalog, special discounts like the Daily Deal, and other features. For this I pay about $25/month.

At $25/month my credits are worth $12.50 each. So when I am browsing books to buy, if the book in question costs less than $12.50, I won’t use a credit for it. Instead, I’ll pay separately. Moreover, I can buy an additional 3-pack of credits for $35, which amounts to $11.60/credit. So in practice, my rule is that if an audiobook costs more than $12 I’ll use a credit; if it costs less than $12 I’ll pay separately for it. This is just common sense.

There are always exceptions, however. For instance, especially with nonfiction books (the bulk of what I listen to) I will frequently also buy the Kindle version. Often times, if you look at the Kindle page for a book, you will see an option to add the Audible audiobook version for a fraction of the normal price. For instance, the Kindle edition might cost $12.99 and there will be an option to add on the audiobook for an additional $7.99. That is a grand total of $21, which is more than the cost of a credit. However, because the audiobook add-on is only $7.99, which is less than my $12 threshold. In these cases, I generally don’t use a credit to pay for the editions. I justify this because I get more than I would for buying the audiobook alone. And besides, often times the audiobook alone wouldn’t be $7.99, but more like $20. It is only bundled with the e-book that is becomes discounted.

There are other deals I look out for. I always check out the Daily Deal, which usually offers an audiobook at a deep discount each day, normally in the range of $2-6. In these cases, I never use credits to pay for the book because the credits are worth more than the book. I’ll just pay normally for these.

Then there are the 2-for-1 deals that popup now and then. In these deal, you can use a single credit to get 2 audiobooks. These can be tricky. If I see books that I want, I have to weigh the cost of getting 2-for-1, over the paying separately for the Kindle edition, if I want it. In other words, I will look to see if the Kindle edition offers a discounted add-on for the audiobook and then weight the difference over the use a single credit. Sometimes it is worth spending the credit, other times, I pay without the credit to get the bundle with the Kindle edition.

At the time of the recent site-wide sale, I think I had 4 credits stored up. Here is how I ended up aqcuiring 16 books from that sale using the method detailed above (and using just one credit):

BookList PriceSale PriceI Paid
Gotham by Edwin G. Borrows and Mike Wallace$39.95$5.99$5.99
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal$29.95$4.49$4.49
Collosus by Mike Hiltzik$29.95$4.49$4.49
Fallout by Lesley M. M. Blume$17.00$8.49$8.49
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White$18.90$9.46$9.46
Point to Point Navigation by Gore Vidal$24.49$3.67$3.67
Index, A History of The by Dennis Duncan$17.49$8.74$8.74
The Man From the Future by Ananyo Bhattacharya$31.50$20.331 Credit
The Gulf by Jack E. Davis$24.49$3.67$3.67
The Death of a President by William Manchester$39.95$5.99$5.99
The Hawk’s Way by Sy Montgomery (pre-order)$14.17$7.08$7.08
Cuba by Ada Ferrer$33.07$5.95$5.95
Fairy Tale by Stephen King (pre-order)$33.07$16.54$16.54
A Man of Iron by Troy Senik$22.67$11.34$11.34
Analogia by George Dyson$24.49$12.24$12.24
Einstein’s Fridge by Paul Sen$18.89$9.44$9.44

For the 14 books I ordered, I paid just 28% of the list price. Note that I used a credit for the most expensive of the books on sale (The Man From the Future). Techically, that credit cost me about $11 so I saved $13 by using it, which means I should add the $7 to the price I paid. That brings my total to $124.58, which is still only 29% of the list price. I think that is a pretty good bargain.

That, good readers, is my theory of audiobook economics. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some reading to do.

Written on March 7, 2022.

Did you enjoy this post?
If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for reading!

Follow Jamie Todd Rubin on WordPress.com

9 Years on Audible

black corded headphones with colorful books in between
Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

I joined Audible on February 12, 2013, making today my 9th anniversary on the service. It is, by far, the service I use and benefit from more than any other. I’ve written before about this, but Audible has allowed me to read more because I can listen to audio books while performing other tasks like driving, exercising and doing chores around the house. It also introduced me to a new dimension–narrators–many of whom I have come to love. For my favorite audio book narrators, I’ll go out of my way to find books that they narrate, just becaues they narrate them. What is remarkable to me about this transforming is that there was a time, not long before 2013 when I was sure that audio books were not for me. Boy was I wrong on that one!

In that time, I’ve listened to 5751 audio books from Audible, or about 63 per year, on average. That adds up to a total listening time of 9 month 11 days 13 hours and 5 minutes — or 21,157 hours of listening time. During that period from February 12, 2013 to the present, I read a total of 629 books, meaning that audio books made up 91% of the books I’ve consumed in the last 9 years.

For the first several years, I listened to all the books at 1x speed. Gradually, however, I increased my listening speed over the years, working my way up, so that today, I typically listen to most books at 1.7x. It sounds fast, but I’ve gotten used to it. And besides, my kids talk faster than that.

Over the last 9 years I have accumulated 1,157 books on Audible, which just about matches the number of paper books I have surrounding me in my office. Yes, I have about twice as many audio books in my library as I have actually listened to, but that is sort of by design. Those unread books are my antilibrary.

In all this time, and with all these books, I’ve never had a problem with Audible’s service. It has worked virtually flawless for me from the start, and the features that they had added over the years have only improved my reading experience. No service that I use has been as reliable as Audible over a 9 year period. It’s really remarkable to me: in more than 21,000 hours of listening, I haven’t had any problems.

That’s not to say that Audible is not perfect. I’ve often wished for a better way to annotate audio books, but I understand it is a hard problem to solve. And Audible has done a good job at keeping their app simple and usable. Better annotation features might complicate that simplicity. Audible is about as perfect as a service can get.

Written on January 31, 2022.

Did you enjoy this post?
If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for reading!

Follow Jamie Todd Rubin on WordPress.com

  1. As of January 31, 2022. Probably a few more by now.

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

unrecognizable female audiobook narrator recording audiobook
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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)

Did you enjoy this post?
If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for reading!

Follow Jamie Todd Rubin on WordPress.com

Audible Stats for the first Half of 2021

Audible was kind enough to send me an email highlighting some of my listening stats for the first half of 2021. Here is what they sent me:

That 24,063 minutes amounts to about 400 hours of listening time so far this year. Keep in mind that the 76 titles is how many titles I’ve started, not how many I’ve finished. According to my own records, I’ve finished 48 books so far this year. I’m about 7 books behind my pace of 100 books for the year. The main reason is that I’ve sunk a lot of time in catching up back episodes of the Tim Ferriss Show Podcast.

I love Audible, but they are owned by Amazon, and as I have pointed out, Amazon is terrible at predicting what I want to read based on what I have already read. In this case, the message from Audible was that “mysteries & thrillers are your jam.” Actually, I’ve read far more books on information theory this year than I have mysteries or thrillers.

This was actually a useful reminder that I need to get back to my usual volume of reading. I’ve slowed down a bit, but it’s about time that things returned to normal.

Did you enjoy this post?
If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for reading!

Follow Jamie Todd Rubin on WordPress.com

Audible Deals

Every now and then Audible has these deals on audio books. I always look forward to these as there is usually at least one good find in them. Often these are lucky finds, as more often than not, the theme is only tangentially interesting to me.

Today, however, I discovered something remarkable. Audible came out with a “True Stories Sale” with the books on the list offered at $6 each. But it wasn’t the price that I find remarkable. It was the books on the list. It was like walking into a bookstore in which the books were selected with me in mind.

Ironically, I already owned many of the audio books. Indeed, after getting halfway through the 700 or so books on sale, I found that I already owned 32 of them! I have never encountered one of these sales where I owned so many of the books on the list.

Of course, I combed through the list to see if there was anything interesting that I didn’t own, and managed to find several books that I can pick up for $6 a pop (a bargain when you consider a credit typically costs about $11). Among those books that piqued my interest are:

  • Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Battles of a Sergeant from WW IIs Band of Brothers by Don Malarkey and Bob Welch
  • The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder
  • Significant Figures: The Lives and Works of Great Mathematicians by Ian Stewart
  • The Pleasure of Finding Things Out by Richard P. Feynman
  • Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons and Dragons and the People Who Play It by David M. Ewalt

This is one Audible deal that really impressed me.

1,000 Hours of Audiobooks in 2019

Given all of the reading that I keep track of, one thing I haven’t managed to track is how many hours of audiobooks I actually listen to in a given year. The Audible app shows only the last 5 months worth of listening metrics, and several days ago, I found myself wondering how much it might be. Today, I found out, thanks to an email from Audible. It turns out that through yesterday, I’ve listened to 936 hours of audiobooks this year.

This turns out to be about 2-1/2 hours each day on average. But the number is a bit understated for a few reasons. First, given that it has to be through yesterday, it doesn’t count today or tomorrow, which, based on the last several days, will add another 10 hours to that figure. So we have 946 hours.

Then, too, it has been a long time since I have listened to any book at normal speed. Indeed, listening to a book a normal speed makes the narrator sound drugged. I typically listen at 1.5x normal speed, with some books (depending on the narrator) at 1.75x normal speed. Call it an average of 1.6x for the year. In that case, in my 946 hours of audiobook listening this year, I’ve listened to 1,514 hours worth of audiobooks. That’s an average of 4.1 hours/day compressed down to 2-1/2 hours a day thanks to the faster listening speed.

I am currently reading (listening to) Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson and the Making of Middle-Earth by Ian Nathan. I expect to finish this book tomorrow, and that will give me 114 books read this year. Of those, the vast majority, 105, are audiobooks.

I’m often chagrined thinking about how much more I might have read if I’d embraced audiobooks sooner. I friend of mine has been using Audible since the late 1990s, while I only got started with Audible in 2013. Indeed, I am on the record claiming I could never listen to an audiobook–which just goes to illustrate the folly of being closed-minded.

Some of the time I spent listening to books this year did not go into completing a book. I give up on quite a few books each year, and if I give up on a book, it doesn’t make it to my list of books I’ve read. I’ve never kept track of the books I give up on so I don’t know how many or how often it happens. I’m considering keeping track in 2020.

I’ll have more to say on the books I read this year later in the week, after the year is over. I plan on posting a list of my 12 favorite books of the year, as well as a separate post on the 10 best books I read this decade. Stay-tuned.