Recently, Audible.com contacted me to ask about doing a review. The last time I listened to an audio book was when they came out in CDs, many years ago. That was for a 10 hour drive and then back again. But I know many people listen to them and thought it might be interesting, both for myself and for you all, my readers. Audible provided 2 credits which I could redeem for 2 books. I asked one of my twitter friends, who regularly listens to audio books, for suggestions and in short order I had two books picked out. Andrea's suggestions included comments on the narrators as well as the books themselves.
Searching the site was easy and there's a wide range of books available. I had no trouble finding books; the problem was in narrowing down my choices. Not all books that are published are available in audio format but Audible seems to have a good selection and the options for listening to a book are many: kindle, iPod, computer, or via a free app on your smartphone or tablet. For the purposes of this review, I used my Kindle Touch. Audible does not rent audio books, you purchase them. They are owned by Amazon so if you have an account with Amazon, you can use it to log into Audible; otherwise you need to set up an account.
Although I didn't try the feature, as I only bought the audio version, apparently, you can switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book, if you own it, and listening to the Audible audiobook, using the Kindle's Whispersync for Voice. After purchasing the Kindle book, you can add the audio book for a reduced price. According to their site, the Kindle will track your location and automatically pick up where you left off; so you can read the book at home and then listen while in the car.
Where I ran into problems was the download process. I followed the link in the email confirming purchase and had the books sent directly to kindle; there are also directions on the site for downloading.
The directions for downloading my purchased books were simple enough to follow but my kindle had trouble coping with the files. While I was while downloading first book, my Kindle gave me a message that the application in use hit a snag and said to close. I clicked close and my Kindle shut down. However, it then couldn't start up and I had to re-boot. It was necessary to rebook 3 times before I was successful. The second download attempt was successful. I did quick audio test of both books to ensure that they were working.
I found the dashboard of the book to be a little confusing but a few minutes of exploration helped. There's a reading progress bar that tracks chapters read and remaining, one that shows how many minutes have passed in the book and one that tracks the remaining time. You can also rewind or fast forward thirty seconds. Just as when reading visually on a kindle, the Kindle screen goes to sleep after a few minutes of inactivity but the audio continues. I did find the volume on the Kindle to be inadequate; I had it at max and still needed it to be a little higher. I don't own ear buds but if I take up listening to audiobooks on my Kindle on a regular basis, I would need to invest in a pair. I do have the option of downloading the books to my laptop and that might be better.
For assistance or questions, you can click on 'Help' at the bottom of every page. It functions as their FAQ page also. I do wish it were located at the top of every page and was as prominently marked as the categories listed there. Overall though, I found the site easy to use and navigate.
Bottom of the Audible screen with 'Help' circled in yellow
Top of the Audible Screen
Overall, if you're an audio book reader or interested in trying, Audible.com is worth your time. One downside to audio books is their expense; holy cow they are freaking expensive. One of the books I acquired using the credits Audible provided was 27.99! But, Audible has a membership program that makes the cost a little more reasonable:
You get your first book free as a trial service. After your free trial, you get one book of your choice every month for $14.95 from Audible's 100,000+ titles.They also run sales from time to time.
Next month, I'll have reviews of the two books I purchased, looking at the stories themselves, the audio portion, and the ease of use. If I have time, I may see about trying to download one or both onto my laptop and see how well that works.