I get through quite a lot of audiobooks at the moment, on account of the fact I commute for about 10 hours a week. Add in some audiobook listening when I’m tidying, walking around the supermarket and falling asleep, and I usually end up reading about 4 or 5 audiobooks a month. That’s a big chunk of my reading, but where I have a stash of unread paperbacks to get through, I have no such stockpile of audiobooks, so obviously I have to get them from somewhere. I rely predominantly on 2 sources, and I thought it was worth sharing for anyone else who might be interested!
I’ve posted about Scribd a couple of times before, both when I first tried it, and then again about a year ago when I re-started my membership again. Since then Scribd has come under a lot of fire for it’s ‘unlimited’ service, so I thought it was about time to weigh back in. Scribd says:
Our members can always read an unlimited number of books and audiobooks each month but, occasionally, we have to limit the titles that you’re able to access within a specific content library in a 30-day period. If you’re only seeing a preview of a specific title, you should also see a notification of exactly when that book or audiobook will be fully available to you.
That ‘occasionally’ is turning out to be pretty frequent for a lot of users, and as there’s no consistent rule, it makes planning your TBR very difficult. Some users are reporting only getting 1 or 2 audiobooks before their catalogue virtually disappears. Back in October 2018 I had a similar issue: I got in touch with them to complain that 55 of my 61 saved audiobooks had changed from ‘available’ to ‘available on the 1st’ of the next month, after I’d listened to one book and started a second. I got a fairly generic apology and when my membership was due to renew again I cancelled it.
Once my commute increased after Christmas I decided to give it another go, and I’ve been much happier with it since. Thanks to email troubles I signed up with a new email address (i.e. not the one I’d complained on) and have had no issues with unavailable titles. As an example: I’ve listened to all of Vox, Me Before You and Sherwood, as well as half of The Disasters so far this month and none of my books have changed to unavailable yet. I’m sure that won’t remain the case if I keep listening at that pace every month so I keep my ‘saved’ list long – it currently has 86 titles on – and don’t plot my audiobook TBR in advance. That way, if titles do start becoming unavailable again, I won’t have got myself psyched up for one just to be frustrated! The system definitely isn’t perfect, and the selection isn’t as good as Audible, but I get several audiobooks every month for about £7 which is much better value for money, so this is where I get the bulk of my listens from.
UPDATE: After finishing The Disasters and starting Labrador (Ben Fogle) I did lose availablility for some of my titles – 14 changed to ‘Available on the 29th April’, but I still have 52 audiobooks available on my saved list, including Sky Without Stars, King of Ashes, These Rebel Waves, We Set the Dark on Fire and The Devouring Gray, so plenty of big titles left. I do find it a little irritating for some of the titles to change, but as I managed to listen to 4.5 audiobooks before that happened, and as I’ve still got plenty of audiobooks available, all for less than the cost of one audible credit, I can’t really argue!
Everyone has heard of audible I’m sure, so it’ll be no surprise that this is my other audiobook source. I have the standard 1 book a month membership (£7.99) and probably a couple of times a year I’ll be offered 3 more credits for £18 and buy those too. It’d work out better value to buy the 24 credits a year plan but that means finding £110 up front, and the self-control to not burn through them all at once, so I haven’t switched! If there’s a specific book I want, I’ll almost certainly get it through Audible. That’s usually driven by narrator – for instance, Emily Woo Zeller did a great job on The Poppy War, so I’ll get the second through audible, and Scott Meyer’s Magic 2.0 are made for audio format, so again, I’ll pre-order that through Audible.
In terms of getting the best value for money, I love the 2-for-1 sales, and if there are 4 books that you want rather than 2 (rare for me, but occasionally happens) audible lets you buy extra credits to pay, which always works out a lot cheaper than paying the audiobook price. Although I haven’t used it yet, they’ve recently also added in 4 free books a month through Alexa (usually classics from what I can see, and although we got an Echo for Christmas I don’t really know how to work it so I might need to look into this a bit more!). The Daily Deals are worth looking at, although I’m not very good at remembering, and because I know I’ve always got a stockpile of audiobooks through Scribd, I resist buying them unless it’s something I really want.
Audible’s app co-operates much more effectively with my car’s bluetooth for some reason, and I love the fact I can set a custom timer on the sleep function. It’s night mode is great for when I’m in bed, and I’m a stats nerd so I like seeing my total listening time and getting the badges.
Combining my sources
I use Audible for my specific must-read-as-soon-as-they-come-out titles and my pre-orders, and Scribd for audiobooks in quantity. My library uses RB Digital, which so far has very little on it, but I keep checking it now and again. Whenever I finish an audiobook – Scribd or audible – my first port of call is to double check whether anything on my audible wishlist is now released, or whether I’ve had any audible pre-orders arrive. If there’s a new release I really want or a pre-order has come in, I’ll start with that. If not, I’ll go to Scribd and see if I can find something I fancy. I try to save my audible credits for when I’m in the mood for something specific Scribd doesn’t have, so spending my audible credit tends to be the last step of my audiobook hunting process. There’s no problem with letting them build up, and it means I’ll have more available the next time a 2-for-1 rolls around 😉