For the majority of my life, I probably would have said reading was my primary hobby. There have been a few notable gaps – sometimes just a handful of months, once or twice a couple years – where I read very little, but for the most part, I’ve been a devourer of all sorts of books. Moving my library to digital a dozen or so years ago was a weird adjustment, but in the end, worth it for the amount of physical space it filled up – I tended to collect books I’d maybe like to read someday, and it had gotten out of control.
However, I never gave a lot of thought to audiobooks. Sure, when I was making frequent long road trips, I had a few dozen on well-worn cassettes I’d revisit on a regular basis, but for the most part, they didn’t hold a lot of interest for me. I’m a fast reader – I can finish a book in about half the time it’d take for it to be read to me, so I never saw the appeal of listening when I could just read instead.
Other than a brief flirtation with audiobooks when Kindle Unlimited started offering them as part of the subscription price, I hadn’t thought much about audiobooks in years. Then two things happened around the same time during the summer of 2020. Firstly, my husband expressed an interest in picking up a few audiobooks to listen to while painting, and The Sandman adaptation released as an Audible exclusive.
So we got an Audible subscription. If I’m going to be frank, it hasn’t been a great value for us – I find the “perk” of the plus catalog rather limited as far as titles that interest me, and he’s been off of listening to books for awhile now. Sure, we have a credit to spend every month, but – at least for me – I tend to read things and never give them a second thought, so credits tend to build up in our account for months at a time because I don’t want to commit to owning anything. Last spring, I paused my subscription for several months since we weren’t really using it, which was a great feature. However, Audible only allows you to pause for up to three months once a year, and cancelling your account means losing your accumulated credits. This makes the whole subscription a poor fit for the way I prefer to use it.
This year, I decided that I either needed to figure out how to spend all my credits and get out, or really commit to getting value out of my subscription. It’s been several months since I was spending a lot of time with books, so the combination of those two factors made it seem like a good time to really try this out. To top it off, I’m committed to a lot of cross-stitching projects over the year, so I figured it was a good match.
The good news is, I’m really taking to audiobooks as a companion to crafting, but I still wasn’t loving Audible. I thought I’d poke around a bit and see what other offerings were out there, and I stumbled across Scribd. Unlike Audible, you can’t purchase audiobooks via Scribd – it’s a rental only service – but it includes ebooks as well as audio. It’s priced the same as Kindle Unlimited ($9.99 a month), and I’ve been absolutely delighted with the selection of available titles in both categories.
I’m currently taking advantage of a two month trial, but I’m already fairly certain that I’m going to cancel both of Amazon’s offerings in favor of Scribd. I’m not using my Kindle Unlimited anyway – I read a couple books towards the end of fall, but nothing previous to that in over a year, and I’ve been dissatisfied but feeling trapped by Audible for several months now. I’m sure I’ll have saved enough in $15 a month subscription fees just to purchase the third volume of The Sandman when it releases at full price.
I’ve found Scribd to be a far better source for both big name authors, and the fun popcorn fiction I gravitate towards, and I foresee an awful lot of evenings spent stitching while listening to a book.
Relatedly – I feel vaguely guilty counting audio novellas towards my “books read” count for my GoodReads challenge this year, and I’m not sure why. In the past, I’ve had no qualms about adding short books, or even graphic novels to my count, but I’m finding myself feeling conflicted about novellas and where they fit into the concept of “books read”.