Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kindle and

When Amazon bought Audible awhile back I didn't think too much about it. I figured the deal made sense because Amazon strives to be the leading book retailer, regardless of what format the content is delivered in.

For as long as I've owned my Kindle I've thought about how it too should be a device that delivers content in multiple formats. The written word is the most obvious example for the Kindle, but it also has a headphone jack and is capable of playing MP3 files, for example. If you've ever played around with this "experimental" support of audio you probably had the same impression as me: it's nice but I'd like more control rather than just letting the device randomly play the next track.

Because of this experience I automatically assumed an audio book would be almost impossible to use on the Kindle. How could you listen to a book in random chapter order?!

Fortunately for me I finally wound up trying Audible on my Kindle. And because it's not the same as loading MP3's on your Kindle it's a much better experience. In fact, it's opened my eyes to Audible as an alternate content purchase solution for me.

I tested Audible only because they recently launched a Facebook campaign where they let you download a free audio copy of Seth Godin's latest book, Tribes. (This promo was a smart move by Audible since it undoubtedly opened the eyes of a lot of other Kindle owners.) Once I created an Audible account it was a snap to download their content manager app and grab the free book. Then it's a simple drag-and-drop from my computer to my Kindle, which was connected via USB cable.

Once the book is loaded it appears on your Kindle like any other type of content (e.g., book, magazine, newspaper, etc.) The only difference is you'll see a little speaker icon next to the title, noting that item is in audio format. Open it up and a nice audio interface is displayed where you can start from the beginning or go forwards/backwards by either 30 seconds or to the previous/next section.

The listening experience is what you'd expect and it's nice to be able to rest my eyes while still using my Kindle. Be forewarned that the audio files can be rather large, much more so than you're used to with print format. In fact, I had to clear a bunch of older stuff off my Kindle in order to fit this one audio book on it; IOW, you won't be carrying dozens of audio books around unless you've got a boatload of SD cards.

Audible has been an excellent experience overall. If you haven't tried it you ought to give it a shot. Now if they'd just fully integrate it so that I can buy a book and it's available to me in both the written and audio format, all for one price...


Cillasi said...

One thing I learned early is that although Audible recommends standard "4" for Kindle, level "3" is just as good. In fact, on my equipment (and on the Kindle) I noticed no audio difference between the files, but level 3 files are half the size of 4. Level 2 files begin to sound a little tinny and I didn't even try Level 1.

The files are still comparatively huge, but because some audio books are in multiple files, at least you'll be able to carry an entire book, if not 2 or more, on an SD card.

Jim Harrison said...

I've also found that placing MP3 files in the Audible subdirectory rather than music gives you the ability to pick the file and forward/reverse 30 seconds similar to the audible books. And there is a vast amount of free audio book content at Librivox with which to experiment.

Gerard Sorme said...

I also use Audible 3 files due to not being able to tell the difference between 3 and 4 on the Kindle. BTW, Kindle supports my 32GB SD card (Kingston, bought from Amazon) with no problem. The user guide says up to 4GB, but as many now know, it supports SDHC - no matter the size. I had a 16GB card before this one and it also worked fine. The 16GB cards have dropped in price to around $40. The 32GB cards are still pretty pricey, but I love having loads of audio content along with everything else on my Kindle. And yes, if you had only books on the 32GB card - that's about 32,000 600 page books.

I LOVE my Kindle.

Anne Wayman said...

Audio books... I may have to get a Kindle for my son... he loves audio books.

Good to know.

Anne Wayman, now blogging at

Rick said...

i would love to see Amazon sell as a package deal. buy the book on the kindle, get the audible version as well. perhaps pay a slight premium for this. then, keep the two files in sync. when i listen to the book in the car, my bookmark on the kindle edition will automatically update. so, i can go back and forth between the two.