Happy Cheetah Reading

All You Need to Know about Audio Books and Audible

When you’re thinking about the 1000 hours of book language that your children need, it can be overwhelming. How can you quickly boost the total number of hours, especially since you can’t manufacture new hours in the day?

When you’re wanting to incorporate more Read-Alouds into your family culture, but don’t have the time (or the voice) to do the reading yourself, audio books are an excellent way to go. You can turn all the time in the car to enjoyable listening time, as well as time spent doing household chores. Play a book during kitchen time, during laundry folding, during playroom clean-up. Bring one along during waits for appointments. Play one before bed.

Even efficiently run homes have some additional time that can be good listening time.

General Options

It used to be that you could check out books on tape, or books on CD from the library, or buy a particular favorite. Not that long ago, my husband had a long commute planned, and spent $45 on the audio version of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. It’s a long book, and I was glad he had intellectual stimulation . . . but that’s a hefty price tag.

Public libraries offer the ability to borrow audio books, though you might be waitlisted for popular titles. Some services include Hoopla, Overdrive, or Librivox.

Scribd is a subscription service that offers access to unlimited audio books. You don’t own any of them, but as long as you pay the fee, this can be an excellent option.

Another option is Learning Ally, at learningally.org. For a reasonable annual subscription price, you get unlimited access to their library of audio books.


There’s also Audible. This is the option I use. We started the month after my husband had his Atlas Shrugged month. With Audible, that book would have been, at most, a third the price he paid.

I needed a friend to explain this to me, so I’m passing on the information to you.

With an Audible subscription, you buy a credit a month for $15. (If you buy two credits a month, or an annual plan, a credit is less expensive.)

You can buy any title you like with that one credit. The sixty hours of The Complete Sherlock Holmes. The stunning performance of world-class reader Jim Dale with each Harry Potter book. Orson Scott Card’s lengthy Pathfinder series. All the Ramona Quimby books: one credit.

Audible books are yours to keep forever, whether you stop your subscription or not. With Audible, you are buying a digital product, and you own it.

You don’t need to have an Audible subscription in order to buy Audible books. You can find many classic books for a dollar or two.

But a subscription can be a good thing if you listen frequently, would like to have the option to keep audio books after a subscription ends, and like top notch performers, best-sellers, and discounts.

How to Maximize an Audible Account

1) Remember how much your Audible credit costs. Don’t buy a $9 listen with a $15 credit. For subscribers, all Audible listens are 30% off. So you can buy additional books at any time. That’s what we do with the less expensive listens.

2) After about three months of subscribing, you have the option to buy three additional credits for about $12 each. If you have a large family, or a lot of eager listeners, this is a good option.

3) In 2018, Audible started offering the option of two additional free listens every month with a subscription. Choose between about six shorter selections, only an hour or two. Some months I opt against any of the specials; some months I select one or two. It’s an extra perk.

4) Audible also runs sales at different times throughout the year, where 200 or 400 titles are on sale for about $5 each. This can be a good time to stock up. Around Black Friday/Cyber Monday, they run a 50% off sale. This might not make the book less expensive than a credit, but it’s something fun to wait for.

5) You can sign up for Daily Deals. These emails come every morning, and each day a book is very inexpensive, from $1 to $4. Most of them are not worth a second glance (who writes and produces these silly things?!), but a few times a year, there is one that sounds intriguing, or a book you’ve wanted to listen to for a while, and then you get a deal.

6) If there are several versions of the same book available, listen to the sample. Some narrators are much better than others.

7) You can pause your subscription if you need to. I did this during a no-spend month. You lose some abilities — I don’t think I could make a return or get freebies — but it’s an option.

8) Other than my no-spend month, returns have been incredibly easy. You have a year to try a book and return it.

Devices to Listen

Obviously, you can download the app and listen on a smartphone.

A less expensive option: for our boys, we have opted to buy Amazon Fires during their biannual sales in July and Cyber Monday. They cost well under $50, and have parental controls to prevent web browsing. We offer them to our children only as a listening device (we try to keep screen time to a minimum), and this is as close to a walkman-like experience as we can find.

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