We don’t currently sell the advertising on this site. It’s left up to a service called Google AdSense which selects ads for us based on what our site is about (crime fiction) and your own browsing history. Lately we’ve noticed an ad popping up offering our visitors a free audiobook from Audible.co.uk. We love almost anything that’s free so we decided to check it out.
Audible is part of the Amazon empire, the same company that brings you Kindle books, real books, and a host of other things online. Click the ‘free audiobook‘ link and if you have an Amazon account you can sign in to start the process. If not you’ll need to register with Audible.co.uk, set up a password and enter your payment details even though your first book is going to be free.
Now you can browse around for a book. I went straight to the crime section and checked out a few things, eventually deciding upon Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Borg Hellstrom, who won the men’s doubles at Wimbledon in 1974 and are now accomplished crime fiction authors. One of those statements is false, by the way.
You’ll notice the audiobooks have prices like ‘£16.09 or 1 credit’. Coming via the offer, you should have one credit which means you get a free audiobook. That regular price of £16.09 looks a bit worrying though. Once you’ve spent your credit on a title you can download it to your PC, to an iPod/iPhone, or to another mobile device such as a Blackberry or MP3 player, via your PC. But before you can do this you have to download the Audible Download Manager to your computer or device.
It’s quite a process and can take 15 or 20 minutes before you can actually start listening to your book. Three Seconds, for instance, comes in two parts and contains 15 hours of audio which took some time to arrive. If you use a mobile device, make sure you have enough memory spare before you set out, otherwise you may be disappointed.
When all that work is done, you’ll have your free book and can enjoy it with iTunes or Windows Media Player on the PC, or on your MP3 player or smartphone. Mobile options make it great for enjoying crime fiction in transit, in the car, or when your eyes are tired. I was disappointed that it doesn’t work on the iPad 2, though. Safari wouldn’t allow the download.
Of course there are other sources of digital audiobooks, and one of the main ones is the iTunes Store which works very well on the iPad. But comparing Audible to iTunes is hard because of the very different pricing. After your free Audible book, you’ll go onto a plan which starts at £7.99 a month and in return you get one credit. So effectively you get a book a month for £7.99. If you want a second book that month, you pay more: £16.09 for Three Seconds, £17.38 for The Retribution by Val McDermid, or £18.39 for Lawrence Block’s A Drop of the Hard Stuff. Or, you upgrade your plan to one costing £14.99 for two books per month, or £69.99 for 12 books a year.
I dearly hope I have explained that well, because if that wasn’t convoluted enough, this next bit makes it a dog’s dinner. If you go to Audible.co.uk on your own steam by typing the address into your browser rather than using the ‘free audiobook’ link, the structure is totally different again. You forego the free book but your first three months are just £3.99 each. In effect, the free audiobook isn’t that ‘free’ after all because if you take it you’d go straight to £7.99 in month two.
Listening to Three Seconds is an enjoyable experience and we’re really grateful to Audible.co.uk for advertising here and for the book. However, the pricing structure is more confusing than the plotlines of many of the books we review. iTunes only asks for a one-off payment. Three Seconds is £7.95, The Retribution is £10.95 and A Drop of the Hardstuff is £11.95. No credits, no monthly plans. Es. Eye. Em. Pea. You. El.
If you like Audible after you’ve listened to your free book, keep using it. If not, don’t forget to cancel your account before you are charged for your second month. That occurs after 14 days. We’d love to hear from anyone who’s tried the free offer via the ad on our site, or already has an Audible.co.uk or .com account. What’s the experience like for you? Have we got it wrong? Post a comment below…