A Beginner’s Guide to Audiobooks #2: Subscription Comparison

Last week I published the first part my audiobook series, it’s all about the basics to audiobooks. That post turned out to be way longer than I expected so I decided to make a little series out of it and dive deeper into all there is to know about audiobooks. Today will be all about the different subscriptions services you can use to listen to your favourite books! Since I’ve only used three so far, I’ll only be discussing Audible, Storytel and Scribd.

Audible

The Audible app is the one I tried most recently and probably also the one I love most. Amazon has a lot of Audiobooks that are “exclusive” to Audible. You can buy them for an expensive price, but you won’t find them on other subscription services like Storytel or Scribd. Books like Illuminae and Throne of Glass are “exclusive”, for example.

For $14,95 per month you get one credit (per month, obviously) to choose the book you want to listen to. You can buy more in that month (with a member discount), but you get only one book for those $15. The best thing about Audible is that your books don’t just disappear when you cancel your membership. The books are yours to keep! I was actually surprised when I found out, because that’s super rare for subscription services!

The app looks really good and it plays chapter for chapter while still showing the overall time left in your book. It shows you all the book’s chapters and their time, which is convenient if you’d like to know whether or not you have enough time to listen to another chapter. I’m a huge fan of the timer as well! It gives you the option to play until the end of the chapter, instead of only a set amount of time like fifteen minutes or half an hour. Especially since I always finish my chapters before I stop reading/listening!

Storytel

Storytel is the subscription service I’ve used most so far. For €9,99 a month you can listen to an unlimited amount of books. Say you’d listen to five books a month, they would be like two euros each. The downside for a lot of people: It’s not international like Audible. It’s a Swedish company that’s currently also available in the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Denmark. They don’t even have an international/English website! If you don’t live in any of these countries, you are, unfortunately, out of luck. Their offer of audiobooks is substantially smaller than Audible, and you won’t be able to keep the books you listen to after you’ve cancelled your subscription. Finally, you can’t purchase any of their audiobooks. Unlike Audible, it’s subscription only.

The app works perfectly fine and you can actually pick the books you want to listen to in the same app. For Audible, you’d actually have to go to your computer or phone’s browser for a book. I still favour the Audible app over Storytel’s, though. In Storytel, you can’t see info about the chapters. It just plays start to end and you can’t really go to the beginning or end of a chapter without having to play back or fast forward, which is a real deal-breaker for me now I know about Audible. During my summer holiday I often spend a quarter of an hour figuring out where I was at before I fell asleep. The sleep timer is fine. I usually put it on 30 minutes, then played to the end of the chapter. You can see how that could go wrong without the chapter timer if you fall asleep before the end of the chapter and it just keeps playing all night… hehe!

Scribd

To be honest, I don’t like Scribd anymore. They’re service isn’t great and I recently found out there’s a lot of bad/illegal stuff floating around since it’s also a PDF website. My first (and last/only) contact with customer service wasn’t all that great, so I won’t be going back there. I just wanted to mention it because I’ve used it for years and it could still work for you!

For $8,99 you get three eBook credits and 1 audiobook credit per month. When you run out of eBook credits, you can read the “Scribd Selects” for free. Anyway, we’re focussing on audiobooks today! They’re selection is small-ish, but in combination with the eBooks you can read, it’s a great price. Just like Storytel, you won’t be able to keep your eBooks and audiobooks after cancelling your subscription. You also can’t buy anything off their website, it’ subscription-only.

Scribd’s app/player works similar to Audible’s. You can see the total time left of your book, see the chapters and their lengths and you can set a timer. I had the bad luck of my app sort-of crashing on me, and I was unable to continue listening to the audiobook of The Night Circus. I contacted support, who wouldn’t really help me at all. That was the end for me, and I honestly wouldn’t recommend them for a subscription. Still, I mentioned it because I did really like the service for a while.

Other Subscription Services

Although Audible is probably the most known service worldwide, there are some others. LifeHacker.com actually made a top five of Best Audiobook Services. It also really depends on where you live! For example: Storytel is only available in a few countries. If you’re looking for an audiobook subscription in your own country, just Google something like “Audibooks [country]” and I’m sure you’ll find something.

Something I kind of forgot, but was reminded of by Lara*, libraries offer audiobooks too! Not all of them do, but there’s a huge chance a library in your area will offer them. Some might still have actual CDs, but lately libraries have digital services like ebooks and downloadable audiobooks as well. I checked mine recently and discovered they actually have selection of free audiobooks! (As in, you don’t need a membership). I wouldn’t use my library for audiobooks because they only have about 700 and barely any in English (especialyl not YA) but since it’s different per library, it might be worth your while to do some research.

*Read Lara’s blog Words With Lara!

Conclusion

It’s completely up to you what service you use, but I’d suggest Audible. The fact that you get to keep the books you get it’s amazing and so rare I’m actually still in shock, ha! Also, I just really like their app! Most of you probably won’t be able to use Storytel, but if you can I’d suggest getting a free trial. Although it’s currently my most used service, I might be switching to Audible. I won’t be using Scribd anymore, but like Storytel I’d suggest you sign up for a trial and see for yourself. The fact that they offer eBooks as well is really great!

Do you use any of these subscription services? Or do you know of another one I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

A Beginner’s Guide to Audiobooks
Basics | Subscription Services | Narrators & Sound Effects

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  • dominique_x

    Interesting comparison! I only used Storytel once and I quite liked it, the only downside (which you mentioned) is that you can’t properly see where you are in the book (which chapter etc.), but I like the amount of books they offer. I don’t have any experience with Audible, but I think it’s quite expensive for only one audiobook. Hopefully there will be another great subscripton service in the future which combines all the good things!

    • Storytel definitely has a great amount of books, I’m usually just unlucky that they don’t have what’s on my TBR, hehe! Audible is a bit expensive, that’s honesty why I didn’t try it until recently. When I discovered Audible actually lets you keep the book I changed my mind about the price, though! $15 is definitely a better price for an audiobook than $30, but I agree that there’s a downside to only get one book a month.

      Let’s just hope someone will invent a new kind of service which combines all of the good things! 😉

  • Lara

    I’m signing up for audible! I’m doing it and I’m so excited. I’m going to be doing a heap of travel in the next few months so this is the perfect time to start listening to audiobooks and audible seems pretty reasonably priced. Also how cool is it that you get to keep your books?! That’s something I really did not expect. And the thing that held me back was that I thought that if I didn’t listen to the book it would disappear and there will be months where I don’t listen to anything. But that’s okay because I keep the book! I’m so excited to start listening to audiobooks.

    What’s next in the series? I hope there’s more 🙂 and thanks for the mention!!

    • Yay! I hope you’ll enjoy the books you decide to listen to! Audiobooks are PERFECT for travelling! I also didn’t except you’d actually get to keep the books, but you do! You can also save up to six credits I think, so if you don’t get any book for a few months, you can save them up. 🙂

      I have a few more post schedules about narrators and my experiences with audiobooks. I’m also working on a post about the things I do while listening to audiobooks and I hope to make a list of favourites (with is HARD! haha). 😉