I have been an audible customer for years, and before it was taken over by Amazon, the customer service was good, as was the choice of books.
The choice of books now seems to have become very limited. One reason for this, and especially where one or some of a series is on Audible, but not others, is possibly because Amazon appears to have hooked up with a US company that sells Audiobooks on cd claiming them to be "itunes & ipod ready". They aren't. However as a US company it is possible that this cannot be reported to the UK Advertising Standards Association for mis-selling.
Furthermore I have a monthly credit account, and when Audible was an independent company my credits appeared in my account early in the morning. This suited me perfectly. Now it's in the afternoon. Whilst this appears to be a small matter, and I assume it's for reasons of Amazon's own convenience, it shows a disregard for the convenience of customers. BTW their customer care service is based in the Philippines!
Everything Amazon touches is, in my opinion, tainted by their poor attitude towards customers. I would also like to point out that their UK website appears to break UK distance selling regulations as it doesn't show a direct email address, UK phone number, or list their registered office. I was under the impression that it was mandatory for all internet retailers to show these on their website and on all correspondence, electronic or otherwise.
I have an iphone and listen regularly to music and sometimes audiobooks. I saw an advert on quidco for a free audio book download and £4.50 cashback. I immediately clicked through, used my amazon account to log in, and downloaded the audible software needed.
Once the software had downloaded which took about 5 minutes, I then chose a book to download. I went for Miranda's autobiography which was worth £19.99, it took about 10minutes to fully download, and then I tranferred that via itunes onto my phone.
The free book came as part of a free months trial. The only problem with this is that after 1 month it would charge you £7.99 a month from the credit card linked to your amazon account. I cancelled the free trial immediately the download was finished as I cant afford to have that money coming out every month.
It was really easy to use, and the download speed was good. The quality of the audio book is really good and I am impressed with the service this website provides. Its easy to cancel your subscription after downloading your free audio book although not so easy to completely delete your account forever.
Books are very expensive on this site so choose wisely! If you have a monthly subscription then you get one free book a month. If you increase the price you get 2, then 3 and so on. If you dont have a membership then the price of the book is twice as much or more sometimes. They do have sales now and again.
I would recommend to people comfortable with downloading new software and using it with their portable devices.
I struggle to sleep at nights so I thought I would try out some audio books so hopefully the talking in my ears at night would sent me off. It worked!
I received a voucher for a free audiobook with audible when buying something with amazon once, so I gave it a go and got the first twilight book.
I had read the last book in the series and hadn't had the chance to read to others. (I read the last one because I was going to see breaking dawn at the cinema and wanted to read it first).
It was quick and easy for me to get the free book and I ended up signing up too at £3.99 for the first three months and that entitles you to one book a month and up to 80% on other books. (It's £7.99 after that hence me cancelling).
I ended up cancelling before the 3 months was up because my father in law had some audio books and let me copy them to my Ipod.
It's so easy to do when you want to choose your books. You can either download the software which will put it onto your ipod etc for you, or it will just download normally and you can burn it to a CD, put it on a memory stick or what ever device you are going to be listening to it on. You can just leave it on the computer too if you want to listen to it on there.
I like that I can take it wherever I want. I downloaded the App on my Iphone so I can download something from there if I wanted to.
Twilight Audiobook: (By Stephenie Meyer)
As i'd already watched the film, I wish I hadn't. When listening to this book, I couldn't use my own imagination to imagine the scene very well as all I could picture was the scenes and settings and even the people in the film. The narrator was female and american with a very easy voice. She wasn't too nasally or loud and I loved that she changed her voice when the characters would converse.
I have since got the rest of the twilight series audio books and have been listening to them every night. I end up falling asleep after 20 minutes so It's taking me a long time since this first book was about 13 hours of listening time.
I think most people put down Twilight's plot like I did. I hadn't watched any of the films at all until last year in August when I gave in and watched the first one. I instantly fell in love with the story line and watched the other two films straight away and then planned to go to the cinema a few months later to watch the next in the cinema.
I'm a sucker for a love story and a bit of vampire action is great.
I think now due to this film, any woman would be fine with being bitten by a vamp if they looked like Edward Cullen.
I had a wonderful and easy breezy experience with Audible. I would 100% use them again when I have finished the books I have.
5/5 from me.
Thanks for reading.
I recently registered with Audible as I received a voucher for a free audio book. Not being one to turn down anything free I signed up thinking I'd get the free book and then just cancel my membership after it had finished downloading.
Audible, it turns out, is a website owned by Amazon where you can download audio books to your computer, phones and many other devices in order to listen to them on the move.
Sign up was easy, simply fill in a few of your details: email address, name, user name and credit card details. There are two options: £7.99 per month - this gives you one audio credit a month, or £14.99 per month which gives you two audio credits. They have an offer at the moment where your first three months are half price (making it £3.99 or £7.99). Once registered you get your audio credits immediately; one credit is equivalent to one audio book from their selection.
If not used your credits will roll over for up to 6 months.
No book shop is ever going to be successful without a good selection of books. Fortunately, this is not a problem with Audible, they have an amazing range of books both fiction and non-fiction. They claim to have over 50,000 titles but I'm certainly not going to sit here and count them to check that claim.
Some of their books are abridged, whilst this will appeal to some in order to save space on computers/iPhones there are many unabridged ones too. These are easy to find and again cover all categories. There are 31,432 titles in the unabridged selection and so there are plenty here to keep even the fussiest buyer happy.
If you want to purchase more audio books over and above the limit allowed on your account this is possible and will cost £3.99. You can also buy all their audio books without creating an account but prices vary from £9.99 to £61.60(!) the subscription fee is less then that so your better off subscribing, downloading the books you want and then cancelling your account again.
I consider myself fairly computer literate but even I was stumped when it came to downloading my first book so the first step here is probably to have someone tech savvy at hand to help!
Once you've chosen the book you want you click download, then it takes you to a page where you select the device your downloading to. Once it knows that, there is a programme you need to download in order to play the books - it won't just play from your computer or phone. One thing I should note here is that there is no option for iPhone, despite saying that the iPhone is a compatible device. This is because you need to download the Audible app from the app store. I have only downloaded to the iPhone and so for the sake of this review this is what I will be talking about. I can only assume that the other players are very similar if not the same.
Once I had downloaded the Audible app I then needed to sign in on my iPhone and locate "My Library", the book could then be downloaded from there.
I chose an unabridged version and so it came in two parts. They claim to have split it to quicken the download speed. My book consists of 16 hours of listening time and took around 3/4 hours to download so it's not the quickest download time ever but you can start listening to the book while it's downloading.
Besides a good selection of books the other thing a good audio book store needs to be successful is a decent quality playback. I'll admit this did annoy me slightly initially and it took me a while to work out what was so frustrating about it. The actors are American and so everything is read back with an American accent. I have nothing against American's or their accents and to be fair to Audible their accents are light and so easily understood. This doesn't bother me now I have gotten used to it but it did take me some time to adjust and even now the difference in pronunciation does catch my attention over the story itself and so this is something to be aware of when downloading.
The sound quality itself is not the best I've heard and there is room for improvement but it's not awful by any means and doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. If listening through the iPhone however I would strongly suggest listening through headphones. The below average quality of recording combined with the below average quality of the iPhone speakers really does lead to a poor playback experience!
The actors however are very good and I feel they capture the inflections in the story very well and adjust their voice to suit different speakers where there are quotes so I have no complaints here at all.
I wasn't actually expecting much from the player - just an option to play and stop different books so I was pleasantly surprised in this respect. Again, this is the app for the iPhone I can only presume that other players are the same.
Firstly, in your library you can arrange books by date of download, title or author which makes it easy to find the book you're looking for if you have a large library. There is also a statistics area where you can earn different badges in relation to how many books you've listened to, how long you've been listening etc. and there is a news area which gives you easy access to the most recent updates.
During playback itself there is a sliding bar which allows you to move forwards and backwards through the book easily. Whilst this has the potential to be quite a useful feature I have knocked it by accident and then it's difficult to find my place again.
You can also place a bookmark and add a note to highlight interesting/important parts of the book enabling you to easily find that spot again. There is a sleep timer where you can set it to automatically turn off at 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes. I have used this a lot as I need sound to sleep so I place a bookmark in case I fall asleep before it turns off and then set the sleep timer for 30 minutes. Whilst I am often asleep before then so can't check that it does last for exactly 30 minutes the bookmark makes it easy to go back to where I was when I fell asleep.
You can also adjust the speed of playback from normal, twice or three times as fast or half speed. I've found that normal is just right so haven't had need to use this but when I tested it for this review it did work.
There is also an option allowing you to move forwards/backwards 30 seconds. Whilst I initially thought this was a rather useless addition I have to admit I have used it several times when I was distracted and therefore missed some of the playback.
This is all well and good but what about if you need to cancel your account?
Let's face it £7.99 is a lot of money for a book a month, especially when we're all short on money anyway but cancelling is easy. You simply sign onto the website and select "my account". At the bottom of the page is an option to cancel.
When you click this you will have two options to try to convince you to stay. A £5 voucher to use on any book, if you refuse this they will offer you a free audio credit. I accepted the credit, downloaded a second book and then went to cancel again. There was no problems when cancelling even after accepting the credit. I simply went to my account, clicked cancel and went through the process again. They then confirmed my account was cancelled. Your username and password remains active however which means you can easily access your account should you chose to and the audio books you have already downloaded you can keep.
Would I Recommend It?
I think if you listen to audio books a lot then it is a good site since you get massively reduced prices on top of your free book a month. Otherwise I don't think it's worth joining as a regular member but I can't fault the service and the playback quality is fairly good despite the faults I mentioned earlier. So if you're looking for an audio book then it is worth looking here and just signing up to download that one before cancelling the membership.
It is definitely a site I'll be buying from again. It gets 4 out of 5 from me.
I tried a free trial of Audible and found the website fairly easy to navigate and the downlaods fairly fast.
After downloading I decided I was going to cancel as only really wanted a free trial - hey, we all love a freebie eh?
When I went to cancel, I was offered a free £5 voucher which I accepted. When I then called to cancel, a rude obnoxious *** lectured me about how I should not have accepted the voucher if I was going to cancel. He really went on and I felt my anger rising!
If a company wants to add vouchers to be used, fair enough, but don't lecture people when they use them! There were no conditions to the voucher saying that you had to remain a member if you accepted it, if this is what they want then they should add conditions to it.
I am glad I did not stay if their service and general disrespect of the public is like this!
Audible is an online retailer of audio books, and is owned by internet retail giant Amazon. The site is bright and laid out in attractive way, with clear sections allowing you to head straight to what you want. As well as selling audio books on an individual basis, you can sign up to their subscription service and this offers you a set-rate price per month and a limited number of audio books included in this fee, and also gives a reduced member rate across all other audio books. I signed up for subscription deal to find out more about their service and give audio books a trial run.
Before signing up to Audible, I had not ever used an audio book, and I was unsure of what to expect. The subscription fees seemed reasonable and I was willing to give it a go.
There are two packages to choose from:
Discount Audible Listener - costs £3.99 per month for the first 3 months, £7.99 per month thereafter. You can select one audio book of your choice per month included in this charge.
Discount Premium Listener - costs £7.99 per month for the first 3 months, £14.99 per month thereafter. You can select two audio books of your choice per month included in this charge.
Other benefits to both subscription options include savings of up to 80% on non-member prices, and a 40,000 title library for you to choose from.
I dove straight in and selected the Premium Listener package, as I figured that by having 2 audio books I would be able to get to grips with the system better and explore the workings of the files and see how I get along with the format in comparison to reading a regular paper book. I was enticed by the idea that I could load them up onto my MP3 player and listen to them anywhere, and also have the books playing while doing something else, for example cooking or cleaning, so I could maximise my multi-tasking potential! It was very easy to create an account and sign up, and although personal details and card number are required, no money is taken at this point in time.
So, once I'd finished creating my account and specified the plan I wanted I was raring to go and have a good look through the thousands of books and start adding things to my virtual library. I was halted almost immediately in my tracks at this first stage. I have a 'reading list' where I record the title and author of all the books I have heard about that take my fancy and I would like to read someday. I thought that rather than overwhelming myself by browsing through Audible's catalogue of 40,000 titles, I would be better off starting by searching for some of my reading list titles and taking it from there. The search function itself is relatively simple, you just type the author name, title, or a keyword into the search box and off you go. Unfortunately the majority of title I searched for were unavailable, and this either led to a dead end 'no results' screen, or brought up a list of irrelevant books that may have happened to match one of the words in the search criteria. I tried around 30 titles and finally managed to the 2 books I wanted to fulfil my subscription for the month. I read a varied cross-section of genres, ranging from horror and sci-fi to non-fiction philosophy and popular culture books. A lot of things I had expected to find I did not, and it could just be possible that the books are not popular enough to make it into the audio book format.
The books I ended up adding to my download library were:
-The Meaning of it All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist by Richard Feynman - included in subscription fee but one-time download costs were £3.99 for members or £5.69 for non-members. A reasonable saving and worked out as half of my £7.99 monthly fee.
-The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin - included in subscription fee but one-time download costs were £3.99 for members or £10.49 for non-members. A very good saving and worked out as the other half of my £7.99 monthly fee.
I got my moneys worth out of both book by paying the monthly 2-book subscription charge so it seemed pretty fair at this point. Although I was disappointed not to be able to have some of my first choices as they were not in the selection available, I was ready to give these a try.
Audible have their own download manager which was incredibly quick and easy to set up. If you follow the software wizard it will be ready and on your computer in only a few minutes. I found that the instructions for downloading the files and getting them onto your media programme of choice (I used iTunes) were not clear or detailed enough for a beginner. I've not had any experience using this sort of service before and it would have helped if things were a bit more basic, but after using the FAQ section and a couple of trial and errors I managed to obtain the files and get them ready onto my MP3 player. Audible are compatible with over 500 devices including the Apple iPod and iPhone.
After finally going through the lengthy search, installation, and downloading stages I was ready to get underway with listening to my books. I found that the sound quality was quite poor and extremely variable. In some cases the volume would be almost impossibly quiet, and in other it would come up in loud bursts. The books are stored as one file, which are then separated within that into separate chapters. This did not seem to be sufficient for my needs, sometimes I will only be able to catch a 15-20 minute listen and will have to stop in the middle of the chapter. It is then really annoying to have to waste loads of time scanning through the file to get back to the point where you left off before. I also found it difficult to listen to what was being said, as the voiceover seemed to be just reading it straight off the page without pacing or allowing a quick pause for you to allow the piece to sink in and work things out in your head. One of the things I love about reading is that it encourages you to think and imagine scenarios and meanings, but I barely had enough time to take in what was being said let alone expand on it personally. This is possibly more of a disagreement with the format than with Audible, but I do not think I will change my reading habits in the future.
After finishing the two audio books that I chose and considering the format and subscription service I decided to cancel without continuing any further. If you cancel your membership within a 14 day trial period you will not be charged anything for this period, even if you have downloaded the audio books that your subscription package entitled you to. I was pleased with this side of things, cancelling was a very quick and simple process. It's a shame that I couldn't get on with it more positively, but there was not enough choice to my tastes, the downloading process was difficult and time-consuming, and the quality of the files was not up to good enough standards for my liking. Audible provide a good service but it's not for me, although I would recommend it if you already use and enjoy audio books, and if you like 'book club' type books, as popular modern fiction seemed to be the biggest available option.
I came across audible through one of their adverts on amazon, offering a free audiobook, with no strings attached. Never one to turn my nose up at a freebie, I went straight to the website to check it out. The offer was simple- open an account by filling in all the usual details (including credit card info) and choose my free audiobook using the credit alloted me. I wouldn't start being charged for two weeks, and was free to cancel during the fortnight and keep my downloaded audiobook.
Having set up my account and received my free credit, I started searching their selection. It really is vast, with over 30,000 titles and a great range of styles to choose from. There are many different genres to choose from, as well as non-fiction books, but I went straight for the unabridged section. Even within this, there are a whopping 22915 titles to choose from, and you can filter the results by language, category etc.
There were a great selection of titles- just about every Dickens, Hardy and Austen novel were there in the classics section, sometimes with several versions to choose from, but it also had many popular modern novels too. You can listen to a generous 3 minute snippet before you decide- this is a really useful way of ruling out any dud narrators, and unfortunately I did come across a few of these. But there were a lot of gems in there too, and I had real trouble choosing between them all. In the end I opted for Khaled Hosseini's 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'.
Downloading it looked straightforward- they provide you with all the download software you need, and transfer all your downloads into itunes, or a different media player of your choice. However, my first attempt to download my audiobook was incredibly slow, and after over an hour, it eventually gave up and told me the download had failed. Fortunately, once you've purchased a book, you can download it as many times as you want, so it was easy enough to try again. This time, things went much more smoothly and the book took around 45 minutes to download in total, not bad for over 11 hours of runtime.
Listening to my audiobook on itunes, I was a little disappointed with the sound quality- it sounded as if the narrator was speaking down a tube. Listening to the other snippets on audible, it sounds like this is the case with a lot of their audiobooks, which is a real shame because it doesn't make them easy to listen to and spoils the usually excellent narration.
Audible offers two different packages- for £7.99 a month you can download 1 audiobook per month. For £14.99, you can download 2. It sounds like a lot, but considering some of the audiobooks on offer cost over £50 if you're not a member, it actually works out pretty good value. And if you opt for one of the longer audiobooks, you could be getting 40 or 50 hours of listening for your money. You can purchase audiobooks without subscribing, but as the vast majority of books are priced over £10, it makes more sense to sign up, pay your £7.99 subscription for 1 month, and then cancel.
I was very pleased with my free audiobook, but I'd be reluctant to subscribe to audible.co.uk for several reasons. Firstly, £7.99 a month is a lot to pay, so unless you listen to audiobooks on a regular basis, it's probably not worthwhile. And while it's lovely being read to while you're doing other things, listening to hours and hours of books is quite time-consuming. Finally, the sound quality is not up to the standard you'd get if you bought an audiobook on CD, and it's an annoying distraction from the book itself. But I'd certainly recommend everyone to check the website out, get their freebie and then decide for themselves if it's a worthwhile investment.
I heard about this website through moneysavingexpert.co.uk where I read about an offer that enabled you to download two audio books as part of a free trial. It was really easy to sign up, you need to input your card details, but if you just want to complete the free trial then you won't be charged.
I was a bit worried that this website would be difficult to use, because I had just bought a new MP3 player that I wasn't used to and I thought that I might find it difficult to put an audio book onto it. However it was really easy to download the correct software and then put the books onto the MP3 player. Don't be put off if you don't have an I-Pod because you will be able to put the books onto virtually any mp3 player.
I was quite impressed by the range of audio books available - there are 30,000 in total. I was also reassured by the fact that audible is an Amazon company as this is a brand I know and I'm familiar with.
I was quite surprised by the cost of individual books - I downloaded the latest Dan Brown book - The Lost Symbol, for free, but there is no way that I'd pay the usual price tag - £16.99.
I would definitely use this service again, as a one off, but I won't be becoming a permanent member and I won't be downloading audio books often because I think they are too expensive.
I am giving the website three out of five dooyoo stars because it is easy to use and it is part of Amazon, however improvements do need to be made to the site - the prices need to be dropped and it would be good if they ran a weekly offer.
I first came across audible years ago when looking for some Ricky Gervais audio tapes. Years back it was quite simple to download them to your PC without needing to instal the audible-player - but I am assuming that audible introduced this to stop people file sharing - so I guess the extra trouble and time it takes to download is worth it if you are expecting to use the service more than once.
If you have a small child, then I recommend that you get them to get it all set up for you, as you do need to be quite computer literate to get everything installed in the right place - particularly if you have an older computer.
The range of books they have is tremendous - with everything from 'radio style shows' right thru to classic literature and the prices are reasonable too - (an hour of Ricky Gervais's 'Guide to...' series is less than £2)
I have never needed to contact their helpline, but through audible I have rediscovered a joy for audio/radio that was long forgotten. Ideal for those of us who work at home - a lovely way to break in the day.
Good idea, great range, rubbish product and poor service.
I wanted to download some family friendly audiobooks to listent to in the car on a long drive. Audible seems to have an excellent range and reasonable prices so I decided to go ahead.
Firstly in order to use their books you have to use their proprietary player. This makes the process unceccesarily complicated and adds nothing over using an ipod or other MP3 player.
Secondly when I had downloaded the player and my 2 books I discovered (about 150 miles down the road) that the system had only given me the first hour. I have no idea how to get the rest. I have raised a case with their support service, but after 3 days I have had no response (incdent no 090727-000400) .
As someone else has said the chapters work on 1 book and not the other, no idea why.
In short I would recommend looking elsewhere for your Audio books
I have tried this service on the 14 day free trial. I went to the site through my shopping rewards and earned £2.00 cash back just for trying the service.
It was easy to sign up for and did require a credit card but I find this is fairly standard with a free trial. The claim it is to confirm you are who you say, but they WILL charge this card if you don't cancel your subscription within the 14day period. (I always cancel a few days early because the last day is often too late!)
Once you have signed up you clarify how you want to listen to your audio books and it redirects you to software downloads. I downloaded two free pieces of software.
Then you are free to browse. While there is a wide selection, Harry Potter is not on there and that is what I would have liked. I settled on two Eddie Izzard shows and continued to the checkout where it confirmed I would pay nothing for them.
However at this point I got an error message and when I went back to the checkout the titles where no longer there. I called the 0800 number as by this point I was looking forward to listening to my titles! My call was answered within a few minutes by a man with English as his first language. He was very helpful and clearly instructed me to do a few things. He was friendly and competent and helped me find my titles.
The error was my fault as I had not rebooted my computer since I had downloaded the software.
If I was more 'in to' audio books I would certainly use this site. However, as it is I'm an old fashioned reader at heart and enjoy curling up on the sofa with a dog eared novel! The narrators never read it the way I would have!
A final thought: it might be trendy and clever to use an audiobook as the 'on hold' silence filler, but when the automated messages interupt it, at least ressume from the same point!
What a terrible product and service. I would never use them again.
For starters you get your book in their proprietry format (.aa file) which only certain players can play. If your MP3 player doesn't then you are out of luck. It's encrypted to stop you from simply turning it into an MP3. If you do manage to get it onto MP3 there are no chapters so you have to forward through like 3.5 hours to get to the last chapter! How convenient...
They do give the option of burning to a CD but that is by no means simple. You have to do it via their Audible Manager software and if you don't have Nero 7 installed then it just doesn't happen and but you can't tell why. You just get taken to the Nero 7 download page with no other help. Their help files and FAQs are out of date referring to older software, are often totally wrong and good luck in getting a response via email - I never have.
I managed to burn my CD in the end using Itunes having tried to install Nero 7 trial in vain which uninstalled my older paid-for Nero installation. It says that you get chapters which for a 4 hour book is ESSENTIAL. But all I got were about 5 chapters with no apparant scheme to them so they are useless. And my first CD just ends 1/2 way though a chapter anyway.
The CD quality is not great either. It has that digital ringing distortion sound you get in low b/r mp3s. And of course if you want to use the CD to get it to MP3 then you lose even more quality making it painful to listen to.
The quality in the .aa format ranges from very poor to acceptable depending on which size file you download.
Honestly, this is a good idea so badly executed it's not true. No way am I giving money to people who can't be bothered to help my buy and then use their product.
If we give money to companies who treat us badly then we only have ourselves to blame for poor service.
Audible.com Introduction Audible.com is a company offering a great product, let down by an absolutely crap service. This is an organisation which allows audible books to be purchased over the internet and downloaded and played back by a number of methods, including PDA, MP3 Player and Media Player or similar on your PC. One glaring omission, which in Audile's defence was recently although belatedly rectified, was the ability to burn to your own CD's. My First Encounter Before I begin to give a fair review of the site/service, I will recount to you my initial experience with Audible, which was nearly enough to put me off. Last December, I purchased a new HP Jornada PDA. Amongst the numerous inserts and flyers within the Welcome Pack was a piece of paper apologising for the lack of an Audible.com brochure - which was currently out of print - but that should I choose to go ahead and register for a free account a $50 credit would be applied on placing my first order. OK, so what happened after my first order? I'm sure you can guess - no credit was applied. So naturally, I e-mailed Customer Support - only to have to re-email them 3 times to even garner a response. When I did finally get an acknowledgement, I was told that the offer was unknown and not approved by Audible. Hmm - so basically they were accusing Hewlett Packard of promoting an offer without their knowledge? I asked them this - again only to receive no reply. Getting pretty mad, I scanned the flyer, attached it to another e-mail. The final response was that the version of their download software referred to in the flyer was over a year old and therefore the offer had now expired - quite interesting as to the best of my knowledge, the model of Jornada I had purchased had only been on the market for about 6 months. Either way, I could see their point, but what annoyed me the m
ost was their simple initial insistence that the offer never existed in the first place! Despite all this, I eventually persevered with the organisation. The Audible.com Website OK, on to the site. Reasonably well laid out - A clean and tidy menu bar at the top of the page leads you to a "How Audible Works" area split into four sections - Shop, Download, Listen, Save. As the name suggests, each section describes the Audible process. Further down the page a sample of the books on offer is displayed. Once you register with Audible for free, things shape up a little more. As part of the sign-up process you are asked for your favourite genres of reading material. Then when you return to the site, you're greeted with a much more informative home page. The site offers an easy to use shopping basket and wish list facility. A library is also provided, which lists all of the titles you have purchased. This library is always maintained so that you can come back any time in the future and download your purchased titles again, should you need to. The library is split in to two sections - New, Heard and Archive. There is also a subsection for Subscription items, such as newspapers and magazines that are forwarded to your library automatically on release. The real product at Audible however, is its AudibleListener plans. For a set fee each month you can download two publications - The BasicListener plan costs $14.95 per month (around £9.50 or Euro15) and allows you to download 1 book and 1 daily, weekly or monthly subscription (i.e. newspaper or magazine), while the PremiumListener will set you back $19.95 (around £13 or Euro20) and allows you 2 book downloads. While Audible's standard prices represent a good saving over buying an audible book on CD or cassette from a high street store, the AudibleListener plans represent excellent value for money. For ex
ample, for usually less than the price of one book, you can select two from a choice of thousands of titles with the PremiumListener plan. The audio files can usually be downloaded in a number of formats, 5 to be exact - some PDA's or other MP3 devices are capable of handling a number of formats, but the basic line is the higher the Format number, the larger the file size but the higher the playback quality. Personally, I feel that only Format 4 is suitable for extended and pleasurable listening - Format 5 being exclusively for the Sony IC Recorder. This can be a bit of a bummer, as even on a 56K connection, it can take up to 5 hours to download a 6-hour audio programme in Format 4. It is possible to re-start a download halfway through should your connection drop, however this only seems to work as long as the download is not closed - re-boot your machine and you re-start from the beginning! The Material Thousands of titles are available to download from the site, from best-sellers to newspapers and magazines. Many of the books are available in un-abrisged format. My only complaint here is that a number of them are not available to download outside the US at present. Maybe I've been lucky in the first few choices I made, but I had never encountered this until last month when the first 5 titles I chose all came back with this, hence the reason I am not currently renewing my credit card details! The Software Downloading is handled through the AudibleManager program, which you need to download to your machine by way of the ON the Fly downloader. Whatever you do, make sure you download the latest version of AM directly from the website - I didn't and originally used the version supplied on the software CD which came with my Jornada - this was about 2 versions out of date and committed me to a long winded process of downloading 2 other successive versions and
plug-ins before I had the latest version, which I believe is the only one that can now work with the site. The software seems a reasonably easy to use piece of software, save some peculiar idiosyncrasies. For example, when AudibleManager schedules a download, it often leaves up to 15 minutes from current time to download start. This can be altered but if you try to reduce the time difference to anything less than 3 minutes, the software reverts to the original time! Another weird issue, is the need to "activate" your player, be it CD Burner, Online Player (i.e. Windows Media Player etc.), or PDA. Not quite sure the need for this or what it achieves - the process is painless and takes around 5-10 seconds while the software contacts the website. Customer Service (Groan!) On the whole, when things are working OK, everything is great! However, when you do encounter problems, you have to contact the dreaded customer service department and its here that things tend to go a bit Pete Tong. You?ve already heard of my first encounter with them earlier in this review, albeit of a non-technical nature. In the 7 months or so, I?ve had to contact Audible's CS department on 3 separate occasions, for technical matters. Now don't get me wrong, I'm no PC or Internet idiot - I would consider myself at an intermediate level with my PC knowledge - I can format and partition a hard drive and re-install the OS, install new memory and CD drives and the like. But some of the issues I was confronted with Audible stumped me. A recent example was where I had been forced to re-format my hard drive. When re-installing AudibleManager and attempting to activate my CD Burner, I received an error message telling me that I was unable to activate my player as I had already done so twice in a six month period (something I hadn't done). On clicking on the help button, which transported me to the Audible website,
a page came up. This page re-counted the message in the error box and directed me to another button further down the webpage, which supposedly reset some sort of activation counter. However, it told me that I had also re-set this counter (for both my CD Burner and my PDA - again neither of which I had done) twice in the last six months and that I needed to contact customer services! Quite what the point is behind all this, I don't know - if someone does, the please tell me. Response from Audible is poor too. Every time - and I mean every time - I have had to contact Audible Customer Service, my initial e-mail has not even garnered a response - only when getting snotty second time around have I been rewarded with an answer! Conclusion Overall a wonderful concept with a great product base, much more practical and adaptable than the original audio book on cassette or CD, but let down by shoddy Customer Service and peculiararites in the software and website!
Audio Books: I have long been a total adict of 'story tapes'. It hardly matters what they are about, as long as they are well read and pleasing to listen to. My bed-side cabinet is jammed full of Sherlock Holmes, Just William, Poirot mysteries, various novels and anything else that took my fancy over the years. At an average of £8-£10 per tape, that cost quite a bit, but they have all been played to near destruction and given great pleasure - whether driving or going to sleep. The attraction of downloadable stories: A few months ago I got a portable MP3 player, and started hunting for good sources of material. I had no trouble finding MP3 music to download, but it took me a while to find AUDIBLE.COM. Since I did, I can't over-state what a pleasure it has been. I have a varacious appetite for stories, especially now that I have a portable means of having a story 'on-hand' for any quiet moment. Being able to read a short review of a title 'on-screen', as well as hear a short sample being read, then just down load & start listening is fantastic. I have never been a great one for reading books, but with such a convenient way of chosing exactly what I fancy, then having it ready for just when I want to listen is perfect. To start with, I tried - with some success - to convert my library of audio tapes to MP3 format. This takes quite a long time, and needs some technical understanding [or good luck!], and ultimately was a bit frustrating as I know most of my tapes backwards. Having a big choice of new books to choose from really encouraged my listenning habbit. http://www.Audible.com: I tried a couple of other similar services before AUDIBLE.COM, but found that their download systems were clumsy and the quality of the recordings rather suspect. It was actually very frustrating spending a couple of hours downloading a series of files just to find that it sounded useless! A big 'plus' for me h
as been being able to play a sample before downloading. AUDIBLE.COM have 4 or 5 different formats of file. Certain titles are only available in certain qualities, and others are specifically for certain players. The lowest quality (fastest to download, smallest file sizes) is probably similar to an AM radio broadcast. May be a bit worse - but quite clear to understand. The best quality is similar to FM radio. Some titles appear to be from lower quality of source material, & therefore all the download formats give similar results. Download vs Cassettes & CD's: How long does a typical cassette play for? 1 or 2 hours max. A CD? - may be a little over an hour. Most books take several hours to read, especially if they are un-abridged. What's more, very long-play cassette tapes are a joy to disentangle from your tape player! By downloading stories and other audio material, a full length novell lasting several hours might take up as little as 20 Mb of disk storage. Being perfectly honest, downloading files at the highest quality with sizes up to 100 Mb is not to be undertaken lightly on a dial-up connection. Audible provide player software for PC's and a good download manager that should take care of interupted downloads. An ISDN or ADSL internet connection is pretty much essential for real addicts! Once you have a library of downloaded novels, you could keep them on a laptop PC or CD-ROM and have a huge selection always on-hand. Unlike tapes, there is nothing to wear out. Picking up a story at any point is instant instead of having to wind tapes back & forth! A good quality recording of some 6 hours duration will fit on one tiny 64 Mb Multi-Media RAM card - several of which will fit in a matchbox! But at £80-£100 per 64 Mb card, for goodness sakes don't lose the matchbox!!!! Players & technology: Audible.com obviously have strict copyright rules to adhere to. Their download mechanism takes care of making sure that you ge
t the titles you purchase. They also have a range of Audible.com compatible players that integrate with their download software. I am not certain if all of the models they sell through their website are available in the UK, but some of them are. Audible offer a couple of membership packages that include a special offer on a suitable portable player, but as far as I could find out, these are only available in the USA. Shame! However, if you already have a hand-held PDA or an MP3 player, check with Audible to see if it is compatible. I gather that these packages have changed since I joined, but the idea is that for something around $15 or $20 per month - depending on the package - you get a choice of monthly downloadable titles from any of their huge selection. You don't have to have a separate player to listen to Audible.com books, as they play fine using either Media Player or Audible's own player software. [Be aware though, that their security mechanism restricts the playing of files to your chosen PC only as far as I am aware]. If you don't want to sign-up for a year, then you can join on a monthly basis, and just download & pay for whatever you like. Generally I have found the prices to be very reasonable compared with buying tapes or CD's. Apart from the cost, many titles are full versions, something that is not that easy to find 'over the counter'. There are childrens books and the inevitable 'self-help' guides starting at $2-3 USD, with best-sellers at up to $30 or so. If you join one of the packages, you get to pick from any titles at the same price. [One point I forgot to mention is that there are MP3 players that are built in the exact size and shape of a regular cassette tape. These can either be used as a stand-alone player with headphones, or inserted into a regular cassette tape player, effectively allowing you to listen to hours of downloaded material on one cassette. Perfect for stories. Take a look at the dooy
oo section on MP3 players for more info.] Content: I won't go into all the great selection of material, but do take the time to visit www.audible.com to see just how much is available. There are all manner of titles - several catagories of mysteries, clasical novels, diaries, history, childrens, business, sci-fi & so on. Literally thousands. Every time I look I find something else interesting. The presentation of each title as well as the sample makes selection easy and enjoyable. One other area that I have enjoyed are the recorded magazines and journals. These are either monthly or annual subscriptions, and have an American slant (!), but there is still fun stuff to chose from. Summary: If you love books then this is a way of enjoying them more. If you don't love books yet, then this is a way that you might! Take a look, I am really pleased with my experience of audible.com so far!