Newest Review: ... is possibly because Amazon appears to have hooked up with a US company that sells Audiobooks on cd claiming them to be "itunes &... more
Great books, shame about the sound
Member Name: herumi
Advantages: Brilliant selection, good value if you buy a lot of audiobooks
Disadvantages: Bit pricey for a regular subscription, sound quality isn't good
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.
Summary: Definitely worth checking out, especially if you love audiobooks