Monday, June 15, 2015

Audible freebies and tips to squeeze the most out of your membership

I never knew if I'd be all that interested in audiobooks, but when I heard about free trials, I decided to give it a go (free is free, after all). I not only learned that I loved audiobooks (most often humor or memoirs, as I usually prefer to read fiction so as not to literally lose the plot!), but that there are ways to make the most of a free trial or stretch out the bargains when offered a cut-rate monthly price plan.

I've been meaning to share what I've learned about how to squeeze the most bang for your buck out of an Audible membership for awhile, and I'm finally turning my list of tips into an actual post. A couple of membership deals currently available make this the perfect time to drop some knowledge on y'all.

First, let's look at the deals, then I'll explain how to make the most of them. offers free trials constantly for new members -- there's always one on the table for one free credit with a one-month free trial. Skip that nonsense, you can do better. The even bigger fish to reel in is the free trial that works for former members as well as newbies, and better yet when that trial is for multiple months or more than one credit. That's the key time to swoop in for a deal. Like now!

The Amazon-owned Audible is offering a three-month free trial that includes a total of three credits (each credit gets you any one audiobook, regardless of price). Most Audible deals target new members only, but this is one of the few that works for many even if they've had a free trial in the past. There's no way to know for certain who this will work for until you click the link above. If you get a message saying that you've enjoyed a trial before and you can subscribe if you want to lay out cold hard cash in the amount of $14.95 a month, that means you aren't eligible for the freebie. But if it invites to you sign up for three months free, grab it!

There's a thread on the bargain hunting site Slickdeals where an eagle-eyed member discovered this great offer. It's unclear who this will and won't work for; it's an offer for Prime users, but some aren't getting it. However, many are seeing this offer even if they've been Audible members before. I've had a free trial in the past, and this offer didn't work for me from my Amazon account. My husband, who also had a free trial before, was offered three free months when he clicked the link from his Amazon account (grabbed it!). Go figure.

There are no guarantees you'll get this offer folks, but it's absolutely worth a click to see, especially since freebie deals for anyone who's already had a free trial before are infrequent. Though I must say in the past year, between my husband and myself we had a total of three or four offers that were either free or letting you get a few months at just $2 or $3 a month in spite of not being new users, so deals can be had if you're willing to keep an eye out.

If you've never had a free Audible trial yet you're still not eligible for this three month deal (maybe you don't subscribe to Prime or some other unknown reason kept you at bay), read on.

For new users only, there's a free trial at the moment that comes with two credits if you "buy" the deal (for free) at Amazon. Or, you may be able to snag three months of Audible (with one credit a month) for just $2.95 a month if you go here and input this code: APPSUMO2015 (also found on SlickDeals, which is a great site for picking up on all kinds of frugal finds). Note that both of these offers are for new members only -- if you've had a free trial or paid membership before, it won't work for you. If you're spouse hasn't had a membership, though, sign 'em up for any one of these offers that works! He or she can "gift" the audiobooks to your account if they aren't interested for themselves (more on this in a bit).

If you can't get the free three-month trial, the $2.95 a month membership is actually more appealing than the one-month free trial, and I'll explain why in a minute.

Here's what you should know about Audible and how to make the most of it:

1. Yes, you get to keep your books after you cancel a paid membership or free trial. When you purchase an audiobook, it's yours to keep. You can still log into your Audible account after you cancel membership, and you can still access and download books you've purchased. In fact, you can continue to purchase books without a paid membership, though they cost more than the member price. However, the Daily Deal typically ranges from .99 to $3.95, and that price is for everyone, active member or not. Which is to say, bookmark that sucker and check back daily!

2. You'll hear about membership "credits" -- here's how those work:
When you're a paid member (or have a free trial), you get credits, typically one per month (there are options where the monthly number of credits you get differs, but let's stick to the standard example here). One credit will get you any book, no matter its purchase price. This means the book that's $20 can be had for the same single credit as the book on sale for $7 (so you'd do best to save your credit for the pricier book and pay cash for the cheaper options). The credits also rollover if unused. If you're on the typical Gold Member plan, you can rollover six credits (and if you can't find a book you want to buy in six months, you're probably ready to ditch Audible, anyway). If you cancel the paid membership or trial however, unused credits go bye-bye, so spend 'em up before calling it quits.

3. There are a couple of ways to share audiobooks.
Method One: Recently, Amazon automatically started sharing audiobooks between my husband and myself because we share ebooks through Amazon's family library option. For the life of me I can't find how you would set up sharing Audible items without setting up family ebook sharing on Amazon. Maybe if you didn't have ebooks on Amazon, it would still let you set up sharing just for Audible (but you'd probably have to coordinate this from the Amazon website). To manage settings, go to Amazon, Your Account menu, and then Manage Your Content and Devices. My audiobooks show up with my ebooks, and clicking on the Actions menu by a given title lets me Manage Family Library. Don't use Amazon ebooks? Just "buy" a free one (Amazon offers many free titles, just go to Kindle books and arrange the listings from low to high) if you need to in order to set up family sharing (and you may not need to). Don't worry, you can still access your audio library from the Audible site, but it looks like Amazon has put some of the functions (like family share) only on the Amazon site.

Method Two: Before family sharing was an option, my husband and I shared an Audible account. We actually had separate accounts so as to each enjoy a free trial and any special offers available to former members, but when I bought a book I would "gift" it to his account so that all of our books were kept in one handy dandy spot. If you want to share with family or friends that aren't people you normally share login info with, you might want to make a special account  just for sharing (it's easy enough to create a spare email solely for the "family" Audible account). I'm not sure if your Audible login is automatically your Amazon login these days; when setting up the account it may prompt for your Amazon login (which is what we use), but I don't know if you *have* to keep it that way. If you find it easiest to just use an Amazon login (as we do), you should probably also create a special Amazon account so you don't have to pass around login info you use for your personal account. Obviously, if everyone you're sharing with are people you already give your login to various accounts, creating separate ones for sharing isn't necessary.

4. Here's why a three-month membership at a special cheapo rate beats a free one-month trial. Besides the fact that you'll get three credits with the longer offer instead of the one or two you would get with a one-month trial, the longer you have an active membership with Audible, the longer you're eligible for sale prices and special member-only deals. Books are cheaper for active members AND you frequently get deals offering a huge selection of audiobooks for only $3.95 or $6.95, and those offers are only for active members (and being on a free trial counts as an active membership).

5. You should put your account on hold before you trial membership is up. Stretch out the length of your membership by putting it on hold for up to three months. During this time you can still use the credits you've already earned and still get that member price on books and access to member-only sales. Your three month trial becomes six months with this sweet little trick. You won't get more credits than before, but you do get member perks for longer, and you know that can't be bad.

6. Check the library before you buy. If you haven't already, get a card with your local library and cruise on over to its website. Most libraries these days have an extensive collection of audiobooks as well as ebooks. Any titles that take your fancy at Audible might be free to borrow at your library, so do a quick search. This will save precious credits to use on books your library doesn't carry. Of course, if you just want to own the book or help a beloved author increase their sales figures by one, go ahead and purchase it, library be damned!

7. You can still enjoy Audible even if you don't like to listen to books. Ok, so you know you would rather read a novel than listen, so Audible has nothing for you. But hang on; I might have an idea or two to change your mind. First off, I'm with you. I've only listened to a few fiction works on Audible, and while I greatly enjoyed them, I knew my ear belongs to non-fiction for the most part. For the person who feels they lose track of what's going on when reading, even if they hit that little "skip back" button, I feel your pain. But don't despair, the humor book is here to save the day! And don't forget its good pal, the celebrity memoir! Sometimes the two categories are even interchangeable to keep things simple. For example, listening to Bossy Pants by Tina Fey or Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern is quite different than following the narrative of a story while simultaneously trying not to miss your exit on the Interstate or scrub the tub or whatever the hell you're getting up to with your audiobook. They're also fun and funny, which is nice (in the case of Sh*t My Dad Says, hilariously funny is the better way to put it). Lots of comedians and comic actors have very funny books out, and other celebrities have a few interesting titles, too (I'll recommend my favs in another post someday). But what if you already have those titles (or your library does) and you don't know what to spend those free credits on? Here's a few categories to browse: Radio dramas (lots of good choices, such as Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, which will be joining us on our next road trip), stand-up comedy (these are short, but if there're no novels you want or else just a comic you've been dying to hear, go ahead and toss a credit at one), or a live reading by David Sedaris (the one from Carnegie Hall is fab), or even a lecture if you're into that sort of thing (the Great Courses series can cost $30-$40 a pop -- or one shiny little credit, thank you. They aren't really my thing, but my husband likes 'em, and you may too).

8. When you do cancel membership, always say it was because the rates are too high. First off, set yourself an email reminder so you remember to cancel just before your trial ends. When you do cancel, you'll get several options as to why you want to leave. Click the one about the rates being too expensive. This will most likely bring up a special offer on the next page as Audible tries to convince you to continue membership. It might be a deal for $20 added to your account to spend as you please, or might be an offer to continue your membership at half-cost for $7.49. I've heard of a few other offers that could pop up, but those are the most likely. If they slip you a $20 take it and don't cancel just yet, spend it, then go back and hit cancel again, and this time they'll close you on out. If they offer you a half-price membership and there are still plenty of audiobooks you'd like, that's not a bad price, so accept or not as you see fit.

I've done all I can to get you rolling my friends, now go forth and listen!

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