Why is Audible so Expensive? [With 8 Ways to Save Money]

Audible is the top destination to get your favorite books in audio formats. Whether you are looking for classics, bestsellers, or new releases, Audible is the obvious choice for audiobook enthusiasts.

Although Audible offers premium-quality content, one common concern among new users is that Audible is expensive.

This article addresses all the reasons why Audible membership costs more than some of its competitors and also explores the ways to buy audiobooks for much less than the standard listed price.

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Why is Audible So Expensive? – 5 Reasons

Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why Audible membership costs more than its competitors.

1: Audible is the Market Leader

Audible was the first audiobook production company which means they have the first-mover advantage. They have the reputation of highest quality content and built a trustworthy brand in audiobooks, podcasts, and other forms of spoken word content.

Audible currently holds a 65% market share for audiobook sales in the U.S., according to Goodereader.

Audible statistics infographic

Audible is always the first choice for celebrities and popular authors. They demand big paychecks and royalties for lending their star power to the product.

The Audiobook market is booming and Audible, being the market leader, is spending loads of resources to produce the best content.

2: Audible Focuses on Premium Content

Audible focuses on creating the best quality audio content and it allows them to charge a premium price for their product. Audible produces its own content (or through a partnership with publishers) known as Audible Originals. This is exclusive content that is released only on Audible (and of course Amazon).

More and more public faces and celebrities are lending their voice to audiobooks. If a blockbuster movie is based on a book, it is now common for actors to narrate an audiobook version of the book. From Tom Hanks and Prince Harry to Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, celebrities love hosting a podcast or narrating audiobooks.

The heavy hitters and famous faces do not come cheap and it can cost a lot to produce the premium content, featuring celebrities.

3: Audible’s Extensive Collection

If a book has an audio version, you will most likely find it on Audible. Audible is not only your best bet to buy your favorite audiobooks, but it also features an unlimited Netflix-like catalog of audiobooks to stream [called Audible Plus].

  • Audible Originals: Audiobooks and podcasts produced by Audible. This content is available only on Audible.
  • Bestsellers
  • New Releases: Audible is the author’s first choice to release the audio version of their book
  • Plus Catalog: Thousands of titles for unlimited streaming. All Audible membership plans come with unlimited access to the Plus Catalog

Whether you are looking for a classic, bestseller, or a new release, your best chance to find a title in audio format is Audible.

Related Article: How many books are available on Audible?

4: Royalties and License Fee

Audible pays authors 25% royalties (or 40%, if they agree to an exclusive contract), According to AXIOS.

The audiobook producer has to pay the license fee to obtain the rights to make the audio version.

Other production costs include narrator payments (around 200$ per finished hour) and editing payments. At the end of the day, Audible has to sell hundreds of copies to break even.

5: 1 Free Audiobook and Unlimited Streaming

Audible’s Premium Plus plan comes at $14.95/Month. This plan allows unlimited streaming of Plus Catalog titles to justify the higher price structure.

The Plus Catalog has over ten thousand titles, covering a wide range of genres. It is updated frequently with fresh content and includes Audible originals.

Members also receive monthly credits to get titles from their premium collection.

Audible offers members-exclusive sales, deals, and offers. Subscribers are offered at least a 30% discount on all audiobook purchases.

So, to answer the main question why is Audible so expensive?

In short, Audible understands that it has high-quality premium content that a lot of people want to listen to and are willing to pay. As the audiobook market size is increasing rapidly and demand is all-time high, it allows Audible (being the market leader and top brand) to charge a premium price.

Let us now find out why are audible books so expensive and how you can save money on your purchases.

Why are Audible Books so Expensive?  5 Reasons

The standard listing price of an audiobook is more expensive than an eBook or physical book. Let us find out why are audiobooks so expensive on Audible and what goes into creating the audio version of a book

1: Audiobooks are Expensive to Make

The audiobook production is more like a movie than a printed book. It requires a professional team of people including narrators, sound engineers, proof listeners, sound editors, and audiobook producers.

It takes a team to deliver the final flawless product which results in a higher cost of production.

Infographic showing Audiobook production team members: producer, director, narrator, sound engineer, audio editor and proof listener

If a publisher chooses a well-known, highly skilled, or celebrity narrator, it can drive sales but can also cause production costs to rise exponentially. Audiobooks require proper preparation before production begins which can take up hours of work.

Consider Audiobook narrators as actors in movies. If listeners don’t like the narrator, an otherwise popular book may not sell many audiobook copies since listeners do not have option to change the narrator’s voice

If you like a narrators’s work, you can search Audible for more of their narrations.

Audiobook producers coordinate the project from start to finish, working with the rest of the crew.

The publishers also need to allocate resources for

  • Evolving characters and multiple narrators
  • Sound effects and soundtracks
  • Author royalty and licensing fee
  • Marketing costs

At the end of the day, the average basic cost per finished hour is $300 to $400. This means a 10-hour audiobook has a minimum production cost of $3000 – $4000.

The higher production cost means it requires a high selling price and lots of sales to cover the expenses and make a decent profit.

Note: Celebrity narrators, sound effects, and soundtracks can exponentially drive up the production costs

One of the major drawbacks of audiobook format is that audiobooks are expensive to make.

2: Celebrity Narrators

As explained above, it is a common theme to feature famous names and public faces to drive up sales. If a blockbuster movie comes that is based on a book, it is common for cast members to narrate the audio version of the book.

Celebrities take a big cut (upfront big cheque or a royalty percentage) to lend their voices and star power to the book. Audible is known for premium production and it involves using celebrity and popular faces for its content.

Here are some of the best celebrity-narrated titles.

You can check out Audible’s Star Powered Listens for more.

3: Lower Demand as Compared to Physical Books

The audiobook format is becoming more popular every year and 9% of all book sales in the US came from audiobooks in 2022, according to Words Rated.

The audiobook format passed eBook revenue first time in 2019, and the gap has been increasing ever since.

graph showing audiobook market growth for years 2024 to 2030
Source: Words Rated

Despite the exceptional growth of the audiobook industry, print is still the most popular format among readers.

According to the Publisher Weekely, around 54% of online sales of books, in the year 2022, were physical books.

As the demand for audiobooks grows, the cost per unit will also decline.

The audiobook format is the fastest-growing format in the publishing industry and is expected to become a $35 Billion industry by 2030.

4: Audible Encourages Subscription

Audible’s business model revolves around subscription plans. They encourage users to subscribe and get the premium titles through credits. Subscription plans and credits are a major chunk of their revenue and companies love recurring payment models.

Audible makes sure that members get access to credits, offers, deals, and sales to make their membership worth it. You only pay the listed audiobook price if you buy the book with a bank card. Most users either use the credits or look for deals and sales to get their favorite titles for less.

Audible members get a 30% discount on all audiobook purchases and access to Daily Deals, Monthly Deals and other sales and offers

Audible Premium Plus costs $14.95 but it gets you 1 credit each month. If you use credit wisely, the membership pays for itself and you end up saving.

Know more about Audible membership plans

5: Audible is Not a Streaming Service

Many users compare Audible with Netflix. It is not a fair comparison in my opinion. Netflix provides you with unlimited access to content for a flat monthly fee, but you can only stream the content and do not own it.

If you buy a book on Audible, you own the book forever even if you cancel the subscription. It is more comparable to buying a movie on Amazon.

If you like the Netflix model, Everand [formerly Scribd] is your best option. For a $10 monthly fee, you can stream unlimited audiobooks, eBooks, magazines, and podcasts.

Note: Audible’s basic plan (Audible Plus) allows you unlimited streaming of thousands of titles in Plus Catalog at $7.95/month.

Audible has dictated the average audiobook price for years without any real competition. Being the market leader and major player, Amazon has the power to decide the prices and it will continue until multiple competitors disrupt the audiobook market.

Note: LibriVox is a project by volunteers to turn books in the public domain into audiobooks. The production is not professionally done but you get free audiobooks from passionate contributors.

8 Ways to Save Money on Audible (+ Bonus Tip)

There are certain ways to avoid the listed please and purchase an audiobook for much less. Let’s explore some tips to save money on Audible.

1: Use Credits

You can subscribe to Audible to get 1 or 2 credits every month or get them in yearly allotments (12 or 24). One credit gets you one audiobook, irrespective of its price.

If you are running low on credits (0-1 credit), you will see a special offer where you can purchase 3 additional credits.

Audible's extra credit offer

On average, a credit costs you anywhere from $10 to $15, depending on your subscription plan. If you are subscribed to the 1 credit/month plan and want to purchase 3 “extra” credits, it will cost you approximately $11.66/credit. For the 2-credit subscription plan, the extra 3 credits will come at $10.70/credit.

It is equally important to spend your credits wisely.

  • Only buy audiobooks through credits if the retail price exceeds the cost of credit. If a book is available for $5 on sale, it’s better to buy it using your bank card.
  • Don’t pay the full listed price of the book if you run out of credits. Buy more credits to get the book. The “extra” credits are usually cheaper. The price of a 3-credit top-up (on 2 credits per month plan) works out to around $11.50/credit. If the price of a title is less than that, use the cash.
  • Keep some credits to use in the 2-for-1 sales. If your favorite title is on sale, you can always get an extra book for free.
  • You can buy box sets for Audible credits. Type “box sets” in Audible search and browse through Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, etc. Buy a box set using credits and it will cost you much less.

Always look out for cheaper credits. There are several special offers and deals throughout the year to get the credits for less.

2: Make Sure You Have the Right Audible Plan

It is very important to subscribe to the right Audible plan. The 1-credit plan costs you $14.95 while the 2-credit plan is $22.95.

The 2-credit plan gets you extra credit for $8 every month and the “extra” 3 credits that you buy cost you approximately $10.70, as compared to around $11.60 on the 1-credit plan.

Audible PlansCreditsPricing
Audible Plus$7.97 / Month
Audible Premium Plus1 Credit / Month$14.95 / Month
Audible Premium Plus – 2 Credits2 Credits / Month$22.95 / Month
Audible Premium Plus Annual – 12 Credits12 Credits / Year$149.50 / Year
Audible Premium Plus Annual – 24 Credits24 Credits/ Year$229.50 / Year
Source: Audible Plans & Pricing

If you intend to buy loads of books, your best option is to buy the yearly 24-credit plan. It will get you 24 credits upfront at the cost of $9.56/credit. You can fill up your Wish List with all the titles you want to purchase and grab them on sale.

3: Lookout for Sales and Offers

Do not miss out on Audible’s sales, deals, and offers. Audible offers several deals including $5/title and 2-for-1 sales. The Monthly Deals offer hundreds of titles discounted by up to 85%.

The Daily Deal offers a new title every day that is deeply discounted. There are special sales several times a month offering books at a discount.

Source: Audible Deals

Here are a few tips to get the most out of the Audible deals and offers.

  • Frequently visit the Audible Deals page for all deals in one place.
  • Visit the notification page and sign up for sales and offer emails. Make sure to sign up for Daily Deal emails to never miss a deal.
  • The Premium Plus members get access to a bigger selection of titles to shop in Audible sales.

You can explore the genre-specific deals and offers from Audible’s deal page and find the highest discounts and lowest prices.

4: Use the Wish List Feature

This is a no-brainer. Always add the books you want to buy to your Wish List. You will be notified when the book is available at a discounted price or if it goes on a sale or offer.

To add a book to your wish list on your computer

  • Go to the Audible website and search the title from the search option.
  • Click on Add to Wish List in front of the book from the search results
add to wish list on audible website

The title is now added to your wish list and you can visit the wish list section to find it there.

Note: You can also add a book to your account’s wish list from the book details page by clicking on  More Options > Add to Wishlist

To add a title to your wish list on Android devices.

  • Open the Audible app and use the Discover option on the bottom navigation bar to search for the book
  • Once you find the book, move down to tap on More Options
  • Now tap on the Add to Wish List option
mobile mockup showing Audible app options
mobile mockup showing Audible app 's add to wishlist feature

This will add the book to your Wish List on Android devices.

On iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod), the Add to Wishlist is available under the but the book option.

audible's add to wish list feature on iPhone app

Fill up your Wish List so you get notified when your favorite title goes on sale.

Tip: If you have loads of unfinished titles in your account’s library and a new title catches your attention, add it to the Wish List. This will ensure that you do not forget about the title and get the best deal to purchase it when it goes on a sale.

This is one way to organize audiobooks and keep your Library section uncluttered. Avoid buying every book that you find interesting when you already have your library full of unfinished titles.

5: Buy with Cash when Appropriate

If your favorite book is part of Daily Deal, you can get the title at up to 85% discount. Sometimes it goes as low as $1. Audible offers $5 offers a couple of times each year where audiobooks are on sale for $5/book.

If a book is heavily discounted and available at less than a $10 price point, use your bank card to buy the book. You can save the credits for expensive titles and 2-for-1 deals to get the most out of your credits.

Note: You can also purchase audiobooks without Audible membership from Amazon and Audible

6: Buy eBook and Audiobook as a Package

If you buy an eBook (Kindle book) on Amazon, you generally get an offer to add Audible narration to your purchase.

The audible narration comes at a discounted price and gives you the same audiobook as you buy on Audible. The coolest feature is how eBook and audiobook formats sync and allow you to switch back and forth between listening and reading.

You can visit Kindle books with narration or classics with narrations pages to find all the eBooks with Audible narrations.

Tip: If an eBook listing has a headphone symbol, it means it has the audiobook version as well. Hovering over the symbol will also show you the price of the audiobook upgrade.

7: Cancel Audible

This little trick can help you save money on your Audible membership. If you are new to Audible and your 30-day trial is about to expire, start the cancelation process and you will get a discounted offer to continue.

To cancel the Audible membership, go to Audible.com. Click on your account name and click on Account Details from the list of options.

Cancel Audible Membership

Select ‘It’s too expensive’ as the reason for cancelation.

Audible cancel membership reason

Audible, like any other subscription service, does not want you to go. They will offer you a discounted membership to stay.

Audible's offer while canceling membership

Take advantage of the offer and continue using Audible for discounted monthly payments.

Note: Use any existing credits in your accounts before attempting to cancel your membership. If you end up cancelling your membership, all unused credits will be lost.

You can listen to all purchased Audible titles after cancelling your membership and can also reactivate your Audible membership anytime you want.

Know more about the cancel option from how to cancel Audible membership article.

8: Borrow Audiobooks when Possible

The final tip is to avoid Audible in certain situations where you just want to listen to an audiobook and are not interested in buying. I highly recommend getting a library card at your local library. You can then use the Libby app to borrow audiobooks, eBooks, and magazines for free.

You can sign up to get a library card from New York City, regardless of where you live in the US. They offer an amazing digital collection.

You can check YouTube and websites that offer free audiobooks including Digital Book, Open Culture, and LibriVox.

Tip: You can share Audible books with other family members through Amazon Household Sharing. They do not need to be Audible members to enjoy the audiobook that you purchased.

Bonus Tip: Use Pre-Order to Save Money

If you pre order a title, you can avail Audible’s pre-order price guarantee. Audible sometimes changes the price of a book between the time it is available for pre-order and the release date.

If you pre order, you will get the lowest price point of all.

Audible also offers $5 to pre-order audiobooks a couple of times a year. You can take advantage of this offer and pre order your favourite title.

Know more about Audible’s Price Guarantee

I hope this article helps you understand why is Audible so expensive and why are audiobooks so expensive in general.

If you use credits effectively and take advantage of sales and offers, you can get your favorite titles in audio format for much less than the original listed price on Audible.

Audible membership is worth it and there are plenty of ways to save money on your audiobook purchases.

Sohail Ahmed

I love Audiobooks and this blog features my first-hand experience with all major audiobook apps and services … Know More

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