Stuck with nothing to read? That’s every book nerd’s greatest nightmare. Maybe it’s the doctor’s office, maybe it’s on the bus, maybe it’s while waiting on a meeting to start, but it’s still agony. The human brain was built to hate boredom—and there’s nothing worse than having nothing to do. But dragging a bunch of books with you everywhere can be a pain (literally. Your shoulders and back aren’t fans of carrying several extra pounds up and down those stairs). And you always seem to forget the ones you want to read—or they’re too big to fit easily into your bag. What are you to do, in this world that’s full of those boring blank spaces that need to be filled?
That’s where online libraries come in. Audible has both audiobooks and real books for you to browse through from any device, and Kindle Unlimited offers a wide selection of books, and some audiobooks, for you to do the same. But is Audible or Kindle Unlimited better? Which one has a better selection? Which one is cheaper? And which one has the books you want to read? Let’s review both of them, find which one is better for you, and give your bored brain something to do!
Audible vs. Kindle Unlimited: Meet The Sites
Both Audible and Kindle Unlimited are related to Amazon, though each has a slightly different emphasis.
Audible focuses on audiobooks—and have thousands of books for you to listen to. Every month, they give you credit to spend on one free audiobook (2 the first month for Amazon Prime Members), and then you have full access to their Plus Catalog. This Plus catalog is full of audiobooks, yes—but it also includes normal books, guided wellness programs, Audible Original books, and podcasts.
Audible is subscription-based—so you can cancel anytime you want. You do own the books that you purchase with the credits of independently, so you’ll be able to access them even long after you have canceled your Audible account. There’s a broad range of books (think any kind of book you can purchase on Amazon!), and you can listen in on your Apple device, Android device, Kindle, or Alexa device.
While Kindle Unlimited does have audiobooks, it’s focus is on conventional e-books. Kindle Unlimited functions more like an online library—you can browse their full selection, have any ten in your personal library at any time, and return one book to check out a new one. They have a large range of books to choose from, though they may not have the newest and hottest books first.
Kindle Unlimited is also subscription based. However, since you’re just “borrowing” the books, once you cancel your subscription, you’ll no longer have access to those Kindle Unlimited books (at least, not without then purchasing them yourself). Reading a book is simple with a 1-click “start reading” button, and you can access it on a Kindle device, through a Kindle app on iOS or Android, or even just through Amazon’s web page.
Audible vs. Kindle Unlimited: Pricing
Audible is a little more expensive—it costs $14.95 a month. This price does give you any book for free each month, and also comes with a 30% discount on any other books you want to purchase. That price also gives you access to Audible’s entire Plus content library, which has many books and audiobooks to choose from. Audible also runs some sales on books—some popular new ones may have special sales where they are only $5 each. However, the real point of Audible is that you keep access to all of these books you purchase, even after you cancel your subscription.
There are even some special deals from Audible if you’re only interested in a few things. Access to the Plus catalog alone costs $7, and if you’re in more of a Hallmark-and-romance mood, Audible’s “Escape Plan” gives you access to thousands of romantic novels. You can keep your Bridgerton obsession going with the original classics like Pride and Prejudice, or Emma.
Kindle Unlimited has a cheaper price, only $9.99 a month. You also don’t have to worry about running the math on purchasing additional books—all of the Kindle Unlimited library is free for that price. (Though there are other Kindle books that you will still have to purchase.) This price gives you access to the entire Kindle Unlimited Library, as well as a subscription to three popular magazines, like Vanity Fair or National Geographic. However, you are just borrowing books from Kindle Unlimited—so you won’t’ have access to them after you cancel your account.
Audible vs. Kindle Unlimited: Ease of Use
Audible is pretty straightforward—no need to dig for special menus to access your books. Use your credit to listen to one free book, and then purchase any others you are interested in. Audible’s Plus catalog is open to you as soon as you open the app, so browsing through your free options is easy.
Audible is also simple to use on your device. Listening on your phone while doing something else? Audible has a widget that will appear right in your notification screen. You’ll be able to pause or play your book, skip forwards or backwards a few seconds, and even make bookmarks of important quotes and chapters to come back to—all without even unlocking your phone! Just hit play on your phone, put your earphones in, and your good to go!
However, that is the one downside to Audible—since the majority of their offerings are audiobooks, you can only use this service if you’re able to listen to something. Usually, this isn’t a big deal—after all, no one cares if you’re wearing earbuds in the bus. But this may not be the best choice for waiting to hear your order called out at Starbucks, or while waiting for that important meeting to start.
Starting a book on Kindle Unlimited couldn’t be easier. Click on the book you’re interested in, hit the “start reading” button, and you’re instantly transported away.
Finding a Kindle Unlimited book, however, can be a bit harder. Amazon doesn’t offer an easy place to browse through just Kindle Unlimited books, but they are instead scattered among other normal (aka, spend money to read) books. On the Kindle app, you can scan through a small selection, but you can’t search from books only from the free selection. This can make it difficult to find books.
It is easy to read on Kindle Unlimited though. Just like a regular Kindle book, you can access it on almost any device. You can create bookmarks, highlight parts of the text in different colors, make notes, and even look up unfamiliar words. Kindle saves your spot as well—so you don’t have to worry about accidentally closing the app and losing your progress.
Audible vs. Kindle Unlimited: Selection
Audible’s selection is almost as big as Amazon’s is. Their range is broad—from biographies, to comedy, to journalism, to kids’ books, to wellness, to self-improvement, to even Audible Theater! There is always something new to read as well, as they add 20 to 30 new titles ever month. (And often these audiobooks are read by the authors themselves!) From classics like Harry Potter to popular newcomers like Bridgerton, Audible has you covered.
Kindle Unlimited has a more eclectic selection. There’s many self-published e-books on their platform, which means more indie authors. While they do offer some classics, Kindle Unlimited has less of the “big 5” publishers, which means they may not have your favorites. But they do boast a database or over 1 million books, not including their audiobooks and magazines.
Conclusion: Audible vs. Kindle Unlimited
Whether you go with Audible or Kindle Unlimited depends on whether you want to listen and read. Both have both audiobooks and published books—but Audible focuses on the first, and Kindle Unlimited on the second. Audible wins out for us here, because while they are a little more expensive, they have a wider selection, and make it easier for you to find new things to read. Furthermore, you own your own books—so you don’t have to keep paying when you aren’t reading anything new.
Not sure which one is right for you? Both Audible and Kindle Unlimited are offering 30-days-free trials, so go try them out for yourself!