I Drive Over 10,000 Miles a Year, and This Affordable App Keeps Me Entertained the Whole Way
As an avid reader, I've been averse to Kindles, iPads, and other electronic reading devices all my life. While I'd much rather physically hold a book in my hand, it's not really practical to pack a 5-pound "Harry Potter" book in your carry-on bag — it's even less practical to do so while driving cross country with limited space in your car — which is how I became hooked on Amazon's Audible app.
Audible is a monthly subscription app with over 200,000 audiobooks, podcasts, sleep tracks, guided meditations, original stories, and more. Subscriptions start at just $8 a month, giving the subscriber access to all the titles in the Plus Catalog. I currently pay $15 a month for my Premium Plus subscription, which allows me one credit per month to be used towards one Premium selection title (like new releases and bestsellers), along with the thousands of free books in the Plus Catalog. Avid readers can spend up to $230 yearly for 24 credits, which is roughly two premium books a month.
At first, I thought Audible's credit system might be confusing, but it's actually my favorite feature of the app. One credit always equates to one book download, which means I could download President Obama's "A Promise Land" (which was nearly $50 at a bookstore) for the same price as my niece's "The BFG" (which is roughly $5 at a bookstore). The audiobooks are yours to keep once they're downloaded, so you can listen to them again and again in your virtual library — and your monthly credits rollover for up to a year.
I first discovered the Audible app when I moved from Boston to Los Angeles five years ago. The 6-hour plane rides were pretty monotonous and I tried to pack lightly with just a carry-on, which meant no extra books. Categories that I'd previously had a hard time reading — like autobiographies, nonfiction titles, and historical fiction — were suddenly much more interesting thanks to the voice actors reading them. I'm a fast reader, which means I can end up skimming half a book, but Audible allowed me to truly slow down and digest the stories.
I started to listen to Audible while commuting to work in the morning, walking my dog, and exercising but I really discovered its value while driving cross-country. Three years ago, my fiance and I took a week to drive cross-country from Los Angeles to Boston with our dog, who is a very nervous traveler. She's so skittish, we can't even listen to music in the car without upsetting her. Audible, however, seemed to relax her, and allowed us to take our mind off the 3,000-mile drive. We listened to three "Harry Potter" books on that drive — and found the lively voice acting to be more entertaining than any of the movies.
To buy: amazon.com, from $8
Recently, my fiance and I decided to move to Austin which meant another long drive from the East Coast. For the 3-day trek, it only felt right to download fellow Austine Matthew McConaughey's "Greenlights" memoir. The book was read by the actor, so it felt like we were getting our own personal reading the whole way there. The Bedtime Stories feature, read by actors like Nick Jonas, and the Sleep 101 meditations also helped us fall asleep in the noisy hotels we stayed in along the way. If our pup was feeling particularly anxious, we'd play Audible Soundscapes, like a running waterfall or sounds from the Atlantic Ocean.
If you're not quite ready to switch over from physical books, I get it. I'd suggest signing up for Audible's 30-day free trial to see what all the hype is about. You'll receive the entire Plus Catalog, as well as one Premium credit (two for Amazon Prime members) to listen to over the next month. Amazon also emails you before your trial is up, so you won't get blindsided by a charge if you forget to cancel your free trial — though, something tells me you might subscribe right after, as I did.
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