Audiobooks are expensive. If you’re an audiobook addict, you could easily find yourself blowing some major cash trying to keep up with books on your commute. Sure, there’s the library, but then you run the risk of late fees. And services like Audible.com are pricey, and may not be compatible with your chosen phone or mp3 player. Enter Simply Audiobooks. Essentially, it’s a Netflix-style service for audiobooks. You can check out several books at a time and keep as many as you want queued up. Is it the perfect solution for audiobook fans? Read on and find out!
When you first sign up, you’re given several options for a subscription. Much like Netflix, the more you pay the more you can rent. There is a slight discount if you prepay for the whole year at once, which is a great feature. Overall, the prices are not that different from Audible.com, but since this is a rental service there’s the potential to get far more from it if you have a long commute.
Signing up is easy, as is adding books to your rental shelf. Simply Audiobooks recommends keeping several books on your shelf, which isn’t a bad idea. In my browsing and testing, most books I wanted were easily available, but I had to wait about a week for one. If you’re relying heavily on audiobooks, you don’t want to go without one for a week because your shelf was low!
My favorite feature of Simply Audiobooks is that they recognize when you rent a book, you need the whole book. Unlike a service like Netflix that sends items per disc, Simply Audiobooks sends them per book. So you receive all the discs at once, whether there are 5, 10, or 30 (if you can go through 30 audiobook CDs in a month, let alone more than one, you aren’t getting enough sleep!) In all seriousness, you don’t want to find yourself on a road trip and with only half the discs for a book handy, so shipping them all together makes sense.
Simply Audiobooks also offers a download-only subscription, but their download service has less inventory than the cd-based one. I found that in the major bestsellers there was little difference, but in some of the “genre” subjects like philosophy, health, etc., there was more available in CD than through download. Another upside is that the files are DRM-free, so you don’t have to have a compatible app to listen to a download on your smartphone.
One thing I thought quite a bit about when writing this review is whether Simply Audiobooks is worth the money. The service itself is great, but is it better than the competition? The answer, honestly, is it depends. Audible.com is a book purchasing service, so you need to want to own each book. In addition, you need a compatible device (and either iTunes or Audible’s software) to load books. The other major competitor is the local library. In that case, there are a few considerations. The library is free, but if you have issues with returning items on time those late fees will add up fast (seriously, am I the only person to run up a $25 late fee on a book?). Some libraries offer a download service, but this is usually through Overdrive and has digital rights management tied to it. And of course, their inventory is hampered by budgets and what is readily available.
Given all that, I can see where Simply Audiobooks fits, especially for a specific kind of user. If you listen to audiobooks very often, and you want a constant stream arriving at your home, Simply Audiobooks is a great choice. It’s far more cost-effective than buying audiobooks outright, and it has less strings than an audible.com download. It does have a monthly fee, but for an audiobook junkie, it could well be worth it.
What I Like: Many monthly subscription packages; Packaging can be converted into a return envelope; Website is clean and easy to navigate
What Needs Improvement: Downloads options were a bit thinner; Expensive if you don’t utilize it to the fullest