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How Does Audible Work? Your Guide to Amazon Audiobooks

Listening to audiobooks is a great alternative when you don’t have the time or focus to read physical books. It can be tricky, though, because you can’t just buy audiobooks one by one and collect them in a library like you would with paperbacks or encyclopedias. You would need an app and an audiobook subscription, and Audible is one of those subscriptions you can get out there. How does Audible work and is it worth paying for?


Inside this article:

  1. What Is Audible?
    1. What’s an audiobook?
  2. How Does Audible Work?
    1. What Do I Need to Use Audible?
    2. Audible Membership Plans
    3. What Are Credits?
    4. How Long Can I Keep My Audiobooks?
    5. Where Can I Listen to Audible Books?
    6. How Can I Download Audible Audiobooks?
    7. Returning Audiobooks
  3. Using the Audible App
  4. Can I Listen to Audible on Alexa?
  5. Can I Lend My Audiobooks to Friends and Family?
  6. Why Use Audible? Is It Worth It?
  7. Canceling Your Audible Subscription


What Is Audible?

what is audible
Screenshot from Audible

Audible is perhaps the most popular audiobook subscription service known today. It offers access to thousands of titles, but the service differs slightly from others. You get access to a number of audiobooks per month with your subscription instead of purchasing each book, which will be discussed in detail below. The service stands out because it also offers original content exclusively to its members.

Audible is owned and run by Amazon. Its content offerings also include radio and TV programs. Another advantage of it being operated under the Amazon ecosystem is its compatibility with the Alexa Home System and the Amazon Kindle devices, one of the best eReaders out there. It means you can have the same titles both on your Kindle eReader and your Audible app, and you can ask Alexa to read your books for you. But what exactly is an audiobook? It would be good to have a clear understanding of how audiobooks work to understand how Audible functions as well.

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What’s An Audiobook?

Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels

As the name suggests, an audiobook is a book in audio format. The text is narrated by a voice actor, and you can listen to it on your computer or mobile devices. In some cases, the author themselves do the reading. An example of this is Stephen King’s On Writing, which is available on Audible as well.

You may be wondering why you need a subscription to listen to audiobooks. Can’t you listen to them on YouTube or other audio streaming services? You may sometimes find titles available on those platforms, but the experience is not as seamless as compared to an audiobook app. With an official subscription, you get features like the ability to bookmark pages, digitally highlight passages, and sync your titles with your Goodreads account. Listening on YouTube may also be unpleasant because you get the infamously annoying ads. Moreover, you cannot play it in the background unless you have a premium subscription. Moreover, most books found on those channels are almost always pirated so you may not get high-quality audio.

As for Amazon Audible, you get the original material and you don’t have to worry about violating any piracy laws.


How Does Audible Work?

how does audible work
Screenshot from Amazon

We mentioned that Audible works differently than most services. It’s different because you don’t necessarily get unlimited access to all the titles. You get to purchase—others say borrow—them using the “credits” that you get with your service. Fortunately, you can keep them in your library for as long as you want after the purchase. The Audible app is free to download, but you pay for the service to access the books. This begs the question if the service is even worth it. Take a look at the features and Audible mechanics listed on this Audible review below to figure it out yourself.


What Do I Need to Use Audible?

using audible
Screenshot from App Store

To use Audible, you would need to download and install the Audible app—it is compatible with PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets. You would have to download the titles that you want and store them on your device. Audible will use your device’s sound system to play the audiobook.

To sign up, go to the Audible website and either log in with your existing Amazon account or create a new one. You can then start your trial.


Do I Need to Be an Amazon Prime Member?

You don’t need to subscribe to Amazon Prime to use Audible, but an Amazon account is essential. Your payment credentials will be tied to that account which will be used for your Audible subscription.


Audible Membership Plans

Screenshot from Amazon

How much will Audible cost your wallet? You may choose from two membership plans that might fit your reading habits.



You get access to Audible originals including podcasts. The subscription also gives you discounts on prime audiobooks found on the Audible library. You do not get free audiobook credits.




This subscription gives you one monthly credit. It means you can download one title per month regardless of the book’s price and all the benefits of the Plus membership.



If it’s your first time on Audible, you can subscribe to a 30-day free trial to see how Audible works and if you would like to keep the service. You can do a trial of either of the two plans. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you get two credits with your trial instead of one.

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What Are Credits?

One credit lets you download any title from Amazon Audible’s premium selections regardless of the book’s price. You don’t need to use your credits right away. They accumulate per month and you can choose to use them in bulk anytime you wish. All credits expire after a year.

What if you want to download more titles than your credits allow per month? In that case, you can purchase more credits or you can pay for each additional audiobook at 30% off.


How Long Can I Keep My Audiobooks?

You can keep all downloaded titles for as long as you have an Amazon Audible account. Only your unused Audible credits expire. Your audiobooks will remain in your library even after you cancel your subscription.


Where Can I Listen to Audible Books?

where to listen how does audible work
Screenshot from Amazon

The Audible app is available for computers, iOS, and Android devices. You would have to log in to the app with your Amazon account. If you are logged in to multiple devices, you can sync your content so you can continue listening where you left off no matter which one you’re using. To sync the content, you would have to be connected to the internet but you can always listen offline.


How Can I Download Audible Audiobooks?

You can access the vast array of titles including Audible originals in the Audible library.

  1. On your computer or mobile app, click on Browse on the top menu. From there, you can choose from categories, featured content, and bestsellers. You can also go to the Amazon website or Amazon app to look for titles.
  2. Once you’ve decided on a title, you can add it to your cart. You have the option to either use your available credits or purchase the book at a discounted price if you want to save your credits for later or you’ve run out of credits.
  3. After you check out, your audiobook will be downloaded to all your devices that are online.


Returning Audiobooks

You can return audiobooks that you have downloaded by mistake. It could also be that you’re just not happy with it after listening for a bit. You will get your credits back as long as you haven’t listened to the whole book and have only recently downloaded it.

  1. Click on your name on the top right of the screen and select Account Details from the dropdown.
  2. From there, you can access your Purchase History and choose the title you want to return from the list.
  3. Click on the Return button to return the book.
  4. You will get a message telling you whether you are eligible to receive the credits back or not.


Using the Audible App

So how does Audible work on computers and mobile devices? The app is very intuitive and easy to use. It has a clean interface and all functions are pretty straightforward.



Screenshot from Play Store

You can access all your titles by clicking or tapping on the Library icon. You will also see a number of tabs categorizing your books to the ones you’re currently listening to, the ones you’ve started, and titles you’ve finished.



Here, you will see recommendations of books you might like based on your reading history. This includes genres you haven’t yet explored which Audible thinks might be a good match for you.


Adjusting Playback Speed

adjust speed
Screenshot from Amazon

Click on any title you’ve downloaded to begin playing the audio. You can adjust the playback speed and make it faster or slower by tapping on the Speed option on the lower left.


Chapters and Bookmarks

You can see the table of contents by clicking on the Chapters option. Click on any chapter to jump to that section at any time.

To bookmark any location in the audiobook, simply tap on the plus (+) icon on the Bookmark button.


Adding Notes to Bookmarks

Another cool thing about the app is how you can add your personal notes on the locations you’ve bookmarked. Tap on Bookmarks from the dropdown menu of the upper right icon on the player screen then tap on Enter Notes.



This feature syncs your audiobooks across all your devices where you have the Audible app installed. This is how Audible works in terms of syncing your content. It’s called Whispersync because it automatically does it in the background. However, you can always manually sync your devices, too.


Sleep Timer

sleep timer
Screenshot from Amazon

If you’re reading at bedtime, you can set a timer for your audiobook to stop playing. It’s the perfect way to relax listening to your favorite stories before going to sleep. You can set the timer from a few minutes to an hour or you can set it to sleep after the chapter you’re on.


Can I Listen to Audible on Alexa?

how does audible work with alexa
Screenshot from Amazon

You can use your Alexa Echo speakers to listen to your Audible audiobooks. If you are signed in with the same Amazon account on your Audible app and Echo Dot, Alexa will most likely sync your audiobooks automatically. Don’t worry if it doesn’t because it’s easy to make Alexa play your Amazon audiobooks for you.

How does Audible work on the Alexa app? Here’s how you can do so:

  1. To connect your account, you can say “Alexa, read my book.” If it hasn’t already synced your content, Alexa will ask you if you want to sync it now or prompt you to finish the setup on your device.
  2. To manually connect your Audible account to Alexa, open your Alexa app and tap on the Play button on the lower right. It will show you a list of things you’ve given Alexa access to play like your Spotify playlists, Amazon Music, Amazon Videos, etc.
  3. Now that you’re subscribed to Audible, your books will show up there as well. Tap on the title and your Echo will start playing the audiobook.
  4. If, for some reason, the Alexa app starts playing the audio directly on your device, just tap on the speaker icon and select your Echo speaker.


The next time you tell Alexa to read a book for you, it will automatically search your Audible library. By default, she will play the book you last listened to. However, you can ask her to read any book in your collection just by saying the title.

You can command Alexa to change any Audible settings such as playback speed. You can also purchase titles directly using voice commands. While you cannot bookmark pages through Alexa, you can ask her to pause her reading so you can go to your app and bookmark the location.


Can I Lend My Audiobooks to Friends and Family?

You can lend your Audible books to your friends and family using the Send This Book feature. It allows them to listen to your audiobooks for free. However, they can only receive one “free listen” once. They don’t even need to have an Audible membership to borrow your audiobook!

  1. From the Audible app, go to your Library and tap on the triple dots beside the book that you want to lend.
  2. Select Send This Book from the popup menu.
  3. Choose whether to send the audiobook link via SMS, email, or other channels and enter the recipient’s information.
  4. They will receive a code that they need to redeem to download the title for free.
  5. If they already redeemed a free/borrowed title before, they will receive a message with the option to purchase the book.


Amazon Household Sharing

Your family can also access all your Audible content if you’ve listed them as members of your household in your Amazon account. How does Audible household sharing work? First, make sure that their accounts are included in your household.

  1. From a web browser, access your Account Details and click on Preferences.
  2. Scroll down to Households and Family Library then click on Learn more about households.
  3. Click on Add Adult, Add a Teen, or Add a Child from the options then enter the email address associated with their Amazon account.
  4. Once you’ve added them, go back to your Family Library and turn the Sharing toggle on for Audiobooks.
  5. Your family can now access your Audible library.


Why Use Audible? Is It Worth It?

One of the things that discourage people from subscribing to Audible is the fact that it does not give unlimited access to audiobooks, unlike Scribd, its biggest competitor. Both require a monthly subscription, and Scribd comes at a much lower price by far. This begs the question of whether Audible worth it. One thing we will mention right off the bat is that Audible has an incredibly larger selection of books than Scribd and most any other audiobook subscription service, for that matter.


What Titles Are Available on Audible?

Screenshot from Amazon

Not only is Audible’s audiobook selection larger, but it is also more diverse compared to many other services. It has over 200,000 titles from the most popular to the most hard-to-find books as well as Amazon original audiobooks. Booklovers would sure love to know what type of titles they can find on Audible.

You will find an extensive, nearly complete collection of fiction and non-fiction books. Some categories worth mentioning that you won’t usually find in other libraries are biographies and memoirs, LGBTQ+ literature, politics, sports, and even some textbooks.


Kindle Bundles

how does audible work with kindle
Screenshot from Audible

If you own one of the more recent Kindle devices, like the Kindle Paperwhite, you can get Kindle eBooks and its official accompanying audiobook at a discounted price. Even more interesting is that you can sync your eBook and your audiobook so you can switch from one to the other on the page where you left off. This is how seamlessly Audible works with Amazon Kindle.


Audio Quality

Audible’s sound quality also far exceeds its competitors. Most audiobook subscription services only feature 32kbps in audio quality while Audible features 64kbps. That is a huge difference which you will undoubtedly notice whether you are wearing headphones or listening from a Bluetooth speaker.


Lifetime Access

You may not have unlimited credits per month, but you do own your audiobooks once you’ve purchased them. As mentioned, you will have access to your books even after you’ve canceled your subscription. You will still need to use the Audible app but you don’t have to pay again to listen to the titles you’ve already purchased.


You Can Return Books You Don’t Like for a Refund

return books
Screenshot from Play Store

You’ve learned how Audible works when it comes to returning titles above. It doesn’t matter the reason you want to return a book. Whether it was an accidental purchase or you just don’t like the book, you can return it for a refund. You can also swap it for another title. This is applicable as long as you haven’t finished the entire book, which is only fair. You have up to a year to return a book for a refund after purchasing it.


Membership Perks

Here are some other benefits you will get with an Audible subscription.


Audible Originals Are Free

audible originals
Screenshot from Play Store

You don’t need to spend your monthly credits to listen to Amazon’s original audiobooks. Subscribers can download two originals at the beginning of each month. You also get to keep these titles even after ending your subscription. These audiobooks range from podcasts, theater productions, to lectures. All are quite informative and entertaining.


Free News Subscription

Screenshot from Audible

You can subscribe to almost any news publication from all around the country for free! Get the latest stories right from your Audible app.


Meditation and Fitness

You can also listen to guided meditation and fitness classes at no extra cost. Some classes are available weekly and some span a few months. You can listen to them as you please or commit to the program from start to finish.


Audible Escape and Latino

Romance book lovers will enjoy this add-on for a small extra monthly fee. Members can access up to 10 titles in addition to their purchased books. Audible Latino features audiobooks narrated in Spanish.


Canceling Your Audible Subscription

How do you cancel your Audible subscription? If you would like to cancel your membership, you can easily do so by either going to the app or the Audible website.

  1. Click on your name and select Account Details from the dropdown.
  2. Select Your Membership. It will show you the type of subscription you have and how many credits you have remaining.
  3. Below your membership details, you will see Switch Membership and Cancel Membership. Click on Cancel.
  4. Confirm the cancelation and your subscription will end.
  5. You get to keep your unused credits and purchased books.


Final Thoughts on Audible

It’s truly easy and simple how Audible works. It’s a great audiobook subscription service with many exclusive perks and sync capabilities with other Amazon services like Kindle and Alexa. Is an Audible subscription worth it? We say from the features above, along with its clean interface and hassle-free cancelation, it certainly is worth the try. Start your free trial today and decide for yourself!

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