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  • Writer's pictureS. Yumi Yamamoto

Audiobooks and Expense

During my undergraduate schooling, I used to drive an hour to uni and an hour back. Three to five days a week. For almost three years. That's a lot of miles, a lot of time, and a lot of wasted moments that I spent singing at the top of my lungs to music to keep my mind occupied. I tried (and loved) some audiobooks then but... well, audiobooks are expensive if you're a broke college student. So I did what every other college kid does when they want something but can't afford it: I pirated books.

But let me tell you something: pirating audiobooks is not like pirating music or movies. The selection is small, the quality is almost always poor, and the readers are... dull. Dear lord are they dull. The best one I ever snagged was Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus", but Jim Dale's voice was so horribly recorded that I wasn't sure it was worth it (But it totally was worth it and purchasing a legit copy later just to listen to it again).

About a year ago I tried the 30-Day free trial of Audible, thinking that it was like Spotify. I figured you paid a subscription fee and you could listen to any of the selection of books on file. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. You pay $14.99 a month to get a credit and "reduced prices" on the rest of the books. This time, as a master's uni student, I STILL couldn't afford to listen to every single book I wanted. I binged Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" in just under three days, hungry for another novel, only to realize that the next one I wanted to buy was $24 (WITH the discount). That realization sucked, because $24 as a uni student is like half my week's groceries. Further, if I wanted the Kindle edition of the book, it was only $3 on sale. I would have to take time and dedicate to reading it, sure, but I could make it work financially for $3.

The only thing holding me back from enjoying the multitude of audiobooks was the price point. I love listening to podcasts while I'm cooking, or folding laundry, or doing any number of house chores. It makes the mundane, mind-numbing tasks much more interesting. I'd love the chance to devour more books than I have time to read while doing other things! But, again, is $24 worth it to have someone read a book to me?

I decided to divide my money by the hours I receive. The last book I bought was $22, and is just under 13 hours. Thus, I'm spending about $1.70 per hour of reading. That's... actually a lot cheaper than I had expected. And suddenly, $24 seems like a deal, and (now that I'm not a uni student) I don't mind paying for that at all.

Now, I'm still not convinced that I should be paying for every single audiobook if I'm already paying for a subscription. Heck, I'd pay up to $100 a month if I had access to all the audiobooks the way that I can read anything on Kindle Unlimited, or listen to everything on Spotify. Perhaps I'm one of the few, but I can't imagine it wouldn't be worth it for them to give people the option of an "unlimited" plan.

However, now I'm fully under the spell of Audible, and I've five books queued up for this week. As soon as I've finished those, I'll probably purchase a few more, and keep going until I either can't afford it or I'm tired of the selection (doubtful). I seriously hope that an unlimited plan becomes available. I'd listen the shit out of that <3

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