As many of my regular readers will know, I am a big fan of both ebooks and audiobooks. For those of you unsure about e-reading or looking to take the first step, take a look at my Newbie’s Guide to eReading. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.
For my audiobook needs I go to Audible. Here’s how it works. You can either buy audiobooks at full price, with no membership or monthly commitment. An average audiobook, say for example The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling, costs around $25 USD for non members. A larger book, like say Fires of Heaven from the Wheel of Time may be as much as $60 USD, but most are in the $25 USD range.
Alternatively, you can choose to take a membership with Audible. The basic plan $14.95 USD per month which gives you one credit per month to use on any audiobook. An ideal introduction to Audible. The Platinum plan, which I have, is two credits to spend on books a month. That costs $22.95 USD per month. They also have an Annual plan for which you pay $149.50 USD for 12 credits or $229.50 USD for 24. Try Audible Now and Get A FREE Audiobook. Monthly memberships also entitle you to substantial discounts on a la carte audiobooks over and above your one or two a month.
I understand that many of you may be reluctant to sign up for a monthly plan. With Audible there is no term commitment. You are free to cancel your membership at any time with no additional charges. Audible is part of the Amazon family, which means outstanding customer service. I can personally confirm that cancelling a membership is no problem. I did that at one point before I became addicted to audiobooks. If memory serves, they offered me a deal where I paid something like $10 or $20 a year, got no credits, but retained my membership discount on a la carte audiobooks, but I could just as easily have cancelled.
As I mentioned, Audible is part of the Amazon group of companies which allows it to offer the totally awesome Whispersync for Voice. This is where the Kindle ebook and Audible are bundled together and your place is synced across all devices both for reading and listening. You do have to buy the two separately, but the Audible audiobook is offered at a substantial discount, usually for $3.99 – $12.99 USD. With Whispersync for Voice I might listen to a chapter or two on my iPhone during my commute, read on my Kindle during my lunch hour, switch back to Audible to travel back home and I never need to worry about keeping my place no matter what medium I’m enjoying – Amazon and Audible do all that for you. Not every audiobook or Kindle book is setup for Whispersync for Voice, but a significant number are, and it’s growing.
You can see what I mean by looking at my Audible library:
You can see that under the eBook companion column, Knife of Dreams has Whispersync for Voice enabled.
Here you can see that I have the audiobook for The Count of Monte Cristo and as I don’t yet own the matching Kindle ebook it is prompting me to purchase it.
If you’re in the US, Amazon makes it super easy for you to get setup with Whispersync for Voice. If a Kindle book is compatible it will have the words Whispersync for Voice: Ready right at the top of the book details. Once you’ve purchased it, you will be asked if you want to purchase the matching Audible audiobook at a reduced cost and passed through to Audible. Conversely, if you’ve bought the Audible book first, clicking on the Buy Matching Kindle Book link will take you to Amazon where you can buy the book at a reduced price. For example, for Kushiel’s Dart I would be offered the Kindle book at $5.99 instead of the $10.25 it would normally cost.
If you have a Kindle Fire, it’s even easier. When buying a Kindle book you will be prompted to Add Professional Narration for between $3.99 USD and $12.99 USD. You can then access Immersion Reading where you can follow along on the Kindle and the text will be highlighted as the audio narration progresses.
For those of us not in the US, it is a little trickier. Whispersync for Voice isn’t advertised nearly as well as for our US cousins. For example in the Canadian store, the one I use, the Whispersync for Voice: Ready is not highlighted in the description. Searching for Whispersync for Voice doesn’t bring any results unlike in the US Store. However, it does work; you just need to be a little more creative.
Here’s how I’ve found it working for me. I go to Audible first and search for the book in which I’m interested. Let’s take Knife of Dreams as an example.
You see that Whispersync for Voice-ready is highlighted in red, so this book is enabled for the service. You will see that it is showing the normal member price of $39.15. Don’t buy the Audible book yet! Next, I go to the Canadian Kindle store and search for the book
Whispersync for Voice is not mentioned anywhere, so you need to take the chance and hope it’s the right version. Once you’ve bought the Kindle book, head on back to Audible where you’ll see something like this (using The Cuckoo’s Calling as an example here):
You will see that you are now being offered the Audible book at a reduced price – $12.99 USD instead of $17.18 USD – because you own the Kindle ebook. Buy it and you’re all set up for Whispersync for Voice. Enjoy! I understand Audible hopes to integrate more fully for those of us in Canada at some point, but not quite yet. I look forward to it.
If you’re interested in trying it out, check out Audible’s Whispersync for Voice information page. It will help you get setup with a classic novel to help you try it out. I can thoroughly recommend it.
If you have any questions on Audible or about Whispersync for Voice please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help out.