How Does Audible Work?

What is Audible anyway?

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Like the "books-on-tape" of the past, Audible lets you listen to audiobooks on the device of your choice and makes it super easy to get those books. But how does Audible work? We'll explore that, and how to get Audible books.

What Is Audible?

Audible is a service that sells audiobooks. When a writer finishes a book, his or her agent will sell the rights to produce the book on audio, which is different than creating the book in print. A studio will record the audiobook, including working with voice talents to record the reading, doing sound editing, etc, and make the book available to distributors. Audible is one of those distributors.

When you purchase an Audible book, it's added to your account, and delivered to you as DRM-protected audio files. You can then listen to the book using the Audible app on a variety of devices, including your computer, phone, tablet, or even some e-readers. The Audible book is yours forever once you purchase it, just like a print or e-book.

In addition to books, Audible also has original content, called Originals, which are created and produced by the company. Some of these aren't necessarily "traditional" books either; there's a musical production of War of the Worlds, for example, as well as a list of random facts from the year 2018. While their format may be different, they are treated just like books when it comes to buying them.

Audible's Subscription Options

To say "options" is a bit of a misnomer, since there's only one. You start with a free 30-day trial, during which you can get one book and up to two Audible Originals.

Sign Up for Audible's 30-Day Free Trial

If you decide to continue with the service after the trial, you'll have to pay for the monthly subscription, which gives you one credit you can use to pick up a book and two to use for Originals. Most books are one credit.

You're able to save your credits from one month to the next. You can keep up to five credits in your account, but they'll expire after five months.

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You also have the ability to purchase Audible books a la carte. You can do this from the storefront in the Audible app, or by selecting Audiobook as the format for your purchase.

Add Audible Narration to Kindle Books You Already Own

A third option is to get the Audible narration of Kindle e-books you already own. To do this:

  1. Go to and hover over the Account & Lists menu.

  2. Select Your content and devices.

  3. Find the book you want, and select its overflow menu (the three dots just to the right of the checkbox).

  4. Select Add Narration in the pop-up window, just below the cover image.

  5. Complete the payment process, and your book will be available to you via Audible as well as Kindle.

The Whispersync feature retains your place in a book, whether you're reading or listening. So, you can read part of a chapter at night on your Kindle Paperwhite, for example, then finish it via Audible on the way into work the next morning.

Signing Up for an Audible Subscription

While many people who listen to Audible books opt for a subscription, you don't need one. There's nothing preventing you from buying your books piecemeal, either by themselves or as an add-on to a Kindle book. However, a big advantage of the subscription is there are lots of Audible books that cost more than the subscription cost, yet they can still be purchased for a single credit. You effectively get a discount by subscribing.

Signing up for an Audible account is easy. In fact, chances are you're signed up already. Since Audible is a division of Amazon, it uses your Amazon account to sign you in and process purchases. So, if you have an Amazon account, all you need to do is sign in with it and start browsing for your trial book.

If you don't have an Amazon account:

  1. Go to Audible's free trial page and select Click to Try Audible Free.

  2. You can sign up using a simple form on the Audible website. You only need to provide your name, an email, and a password to create your Amazon account.

    Signing up for Amazon only requires a name, username, and password.
  3. Next, you'll need to opt into your Audible trial by providing a payment method, specifically a credit or debit card. Use the form (shown above) to provide the relevant information.

    Add a payment method to your Amazon account to get started with Audible.
  4. You now have an Audible/Amazon account.

Audible will begin charging you the monthly subscription fee after 30 days, so make sure you cancel before then if you don't intend to continue with the service. However, any items you picked up during your trial (books and/or Originals) will be yours to keep, even if you cancel.