A trick to save big on audiobooks.

A trick to save big on audiobooks.

I love audiobooks, and Audible is my favorite way to listen to them.

I’ve finally figured out how to use a great service that makes it even easier—and cheaper—to listen to audiobooks with Audible. I’m kicking myself for not figuring it out sooner (it’s been around for a couple of years), so I wanted to make amends by filling you in as soon as possible. It’s called Whispersync for Voice, and it allows you to switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the audio version without losing your place.

Last fall when I raced through the Outlander books, I switched back and forth between the Kindle and audio versions so I could get through the books faster. But I didn’t use Whispersync—I didn’t know it existed—and I spent a lot of time trying to find my place. (For most of the books, it wasn’t too hard to stop at a chapter break. But some of the later books stopped at seemingly random one-hour intervals, and it drove me crazy.)

(Giant disclaimer here: read the reviews before you start the Outlander books.)

I wish I’d known how to use the service then. I could have spent more time reading, instead of searching for my place. I also would have saved a ton of money.

The finances of Whispersync

It doesn’t make sense, but it’s true: even if you have no intention of reading the ebook, sometimes buying the Kindle book plus the audio saves you serious money.

Let’s go back to Outlander. Right now, Outlander #1 is on sale for $1.99 for Kindle. If you buy the ebook, you can add the Audible audiobook for $3.99. That makes your total purchase $5.98.

Compare this to the $14.95 I paid per credit for the audiobook alone with my Audible membership.

Here’s what Audible’s memberships look like right now:

Gold: 1 credit/month — $14.95 per credit (my old plan)
Gold Annual: 12 credits at once — $12.46 per credit (my current plan)
Platinum: 2 credits/month —$11.48/credit
Platinum Annual: 24 credits at once — $9.56 per credit

If I can beat $12.46/credit, it’s worth buying the ebook and audiobook together, even if I’m not planning on ever reading the ebook.

Once I figured out how this Whispersync thing worked, I went searching for great deals. Not every book is Whispersync-enabled, and not all of those are good deals. Many audio companions cost $12.99; many ebooks cost in the double digits. But there are lots of good deals to be found.

A simple trick to save big on audiobooks. I am kicking myself for not figuring out how to use this service sooner!

How to get started

The first audio companion I bought at a big discount was Pride and Prejudice. I was getting ready to spend an Audible credit for this because my kids are ready to give it a try. (!!!) I downloaded the public domain ebook for free, and added the unabridged audio companion for $.99. On Amazon’s website that looks like this:

A simple trick to save big on audiobooks. I am kicking myself for not figuring out how to use this service sooner!

The “Whispersync for Voice-ready” in search results means an audio companion is available. On the book’s sales page, click “add Audible narration” to purchase the audiobook companion.

To listen to a sample of the audiobook companion before you buy, click on the book’s title under “add Audible narration.” That will open a page that looks like this:

A simple trick to save big on audiobooks. I am kicking myself for not figuring out how to use this service sooner!

Click “play sample” to hear an excerpt from the recording.

For further instructions that are specific to your device, head here.

How to find out which of your ebooks have audio companions

If you own any Kindle books—even free ones—it’s easy to see which have audio companions available.

A simple trick to save big on audiobooks. I am kicking myself for not figuring out how to use this service sooner!

Go to Amazon’s Whispersync home page, click on “view audio companions for your Kindle books.” (See the orange arrow above.) Enter your account information. Amazon will generate a list of available audio companions for your Kindle books. It looks like this:

A simple trick to save big on audiobooks. I am kicking myself for not figuring out how to use this service sooner!

Great Whispersync deals available now

Prices on Kindle books change all the time. Prices on audio companions are more stable. I scoured Amazon to give you an idea of what’s available, and for how much, to give you a feel of what kind of deals you can get with this service.

These are a few books on my reading list:

• The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. The ebook is $11.19; add the Audible narration for $3.99. I think $11 is a lot for an ebook, but if you catch this on sale (like it was recently) this will be a great deal.

• Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Buy the ebook for $1.99 (sale price); add the Audible narration for $3.95.

• The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls., The ebook is $9.99; add the Audible narration for $3.95.

• Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl is $4.65; add the Audible narration (by Selma Blair) for $3.95

Books I’ve enjoyed and recommend:

• Cinder by Marissa Mayer. The ebook is $2.99; add the Audible narration for $3.95. I love this YA series.

• The Martian by Andy Weir. The ebook is $7.99; add the Audible narration for $2.99. That’s not a great ebook price (although it was recently on sale for $3), but combined with the audio it’s still a great deal. (I really enjoyed this. So did my husband, which is saying something. There’s some language.)

• Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The ebook is $4.99; add the Audible narration for $3.95. This is intense but such a good read.

• Holes by Louis Sachar. The ebook is on sale for $3.99; add the Audible narration for $3.95.

• Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty. The ebook is $3.99 right now; add the Audible narration for $12.99. $12.99 isn’t a great deal, but it’s a good example of how you can still get Audible membership prices if you buy both. Sensitive subject matter; I think Moriarty handled it well.

Books that have been highly recommended:

• Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. The Kindle book is $9.99; add the Audible narration for $3.95.

• Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. The ebook is $6.99; add the narration for $3.95.

(Did you notice $3.95 is a popular price for audiobook companions? View the current list of $3.95 audiobooks here.)

There are abundant fabulous deals available for the classics. This is a tiny sampling:

• Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The ebook is FREE. Add the Audible narration for FREE.

• Little Women by Louise May Alcott. The ebook is FREE. Add the Audible narration for $9.49.

• The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The ebook is FREE. Add the Audible narration for $.99.

• Persuasion by Jane Austen. The ebook is FREE. Add the Audible narration for $2.99.

View Amazon’s list of bargain classics that are Whispersync-enabled here.

A note about Kindle sales

I share great Kindle deals daily, updating the page every morning. Some sales last for weeks; some last for hours. If you snag a book on a great sale, that can make for some killer audiobook deals. Starting today with the new sales, I’ll state on the deals page if a book has an audio companion available. (Note: you don’t have to buy the Kindle book and the audio companion at the same time in order to get the reduced rate.)

Have you tried Whispersync, and if so, what do you think? Any tips for us? What else do you want to know?

P.S. The MMD Great Big Guide to Audiobooks, 40 favorite audiobooks, and 40 favorite audiobooks for kids.

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  1. Melanie says:

    I just caught the 3 month free trial on Audible and used my first credit for Big Little Lies. Oh calamity! I commute about 40 minutes twice a day so it’s been great to listen to in traffic. I’m not quite half way through it and I’m hooked. I’m such a book nerd and I hate being read to so I wasn’t sure I would like Audible. That’s an understatement. I was sure I wouldn’t like Audible. I’m surprised–it’s fun and easy.

    • Anne says:

      Once you buy it, it’s yours. I haven’t noticed Whispersync prices to be crazy volatile like Kindle prices are, but I’m sure they change.

  2. Mollie says:

    check your local library for audiobooks as well. I love the Overdrive app which is similar to Audible. And the library is free. But it’s good to know some alternatives to audible!

  3. Heather Carman says:

    And this is why, as an author, I make my books NON whisper sync available. I pay out of pocket $3000 to have an audiobook produced. Do you know how many copies I have to sell just to break even? 600. That’s on audible/amazon as an audiobook. I’d have to sell 9000 roughly to earn back my money with whisper sync. 9000.
    Yes it seems great that you’re getting a deal on the book, but there will be fewer and fewer audiobooks available if authors can’t make money off of them.

    • McGoo says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I wish more authors would refuse both WhisperSync and Audible. The DRM puts me off so much that I am always willing to pay significantly more for a CD or even cassette version. The readers whom Audible employs often sound robotic, the authors get less say in the arrangement all round and Audible have put all the publishing companies’ audio departments out of business. Authors end up not releasing audio because even if they can afford it, there’s no value for money in it. And they have to save on costs somehow, which is no doubt why the readers tend to be bad, unlike those on CD/ cassette who tended to be famous actors. And again, the DRM means that you can’t listen on certain devices, can’t edit the blurry artwork or edit the file into chapters, can’t share with family, can’t put it on CD for the car…

  4. tracy says:

    I discovered this “trick” recently as well and love it! I have long commutes and listen to loads of Audible books. Now I can supplement my credits with Whispersync books. I am listening to Anna Karinina now and got it for 99cents I think and it is a 30+ hour book! Glad I found your website. Thanks for tips.

  5. B J says:

    Thanks for this Anne! I’ve been wondering if I could buy the Whispersync if I had already bought the book. This answered all my questions. Thanks again. You are awesome!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    A few years ago WhisperSync was what helped my daughter (7 at the time) break through in her reading. She loved listening to audio books (most way above her age), but seemingly could not figure how to read no matter how much we practiced. We purchased a kindle HD and a few WhisperSync books. There is a word highlighting feature that can be turned on with WhisperSync. In less then a month she was flying through printed chapter books books (the Hobbit was one of the first). I happily credit WhisperSync with her success.

  7. Jen Grimshaw says:

    I have been wanting to add whisper-sync, but I only use kindle on my apple devices. I think you need to own a kindle device for it to work? I hope I’m wrong though! I have spent a lot of money on audible credits over the years…

    • Mackenzie Colby says:

      I know this is old but wanted to answer your question. Yes, you can use whispersync on Apple products, I do all the time. Just download the kindle app in the app store.

  8. Debbie Hammer says:

    Question…I know this is totally lame, but how do I access the whisper sync version? I purchased one once and couldn’t figure out how to listen to it. Help!

  9. Robert says:

    It must be good for older classic, and less popular type books. I typically read NY Times best sellers of the past 10-15 years and adding audio is $12.99 plus the $10-15 for the kindle book and I’m not saving anything. Good thought but I’ll keep my audible sub..

  10. Thanks so much for these tips! I have bought ebook/audio companions for several classics recently with the help of this post — it’s been particularly great for adding the new special celebrity/actor narrations of classics to my Audible library.

    I have a follow-up question I was wondering if maybe you had some insight about — I borrowed a Kindle ebook from my public library the other day and the option to buy the discounted Audible narration appeared, even though the book was only borrowed! Have you ever seen or tried this? Thanks again!

  11. Shannon says:

    Hi Anne – thanks for the great tips! I have a question for you. I found your site because I was looking for an answer to this…

    Is there a way to check the availability of Wispersync for Voice before buying anything?
    I am an Audible member and I try to use my credits for bigger ticket books and fiction books I likely won’t want to read. However, I try to read for professional development and I would love to know if there’s a way to know if WfV is available before I choose how I’ll purchase it. In other words, can you know a book’s availability and price in WfV before buying the Kindle or Audible versions?
    Thanks for sharing all of your expertise!

    • Anne says:

      The short answer is: YES. But only if you search on Amazon, instead of Audible. You can filter your search results on Amazon to ONLY show you Whispersync titles, and the listing on any kindle book on amazon will tell you whether or not Whispersync is available. (On the daily kindle deals page at bit.ly/MMDdeals I always highlight which titles are Whispersync-enabled.)

  12. Jim Sorrentino says:

    Hi Anne,
    Thanks for your informative post on Audible and Kindle books.
    Excellent analysis and tips.
    One area that I didn’t see mentioned is the difference between the two options regarding “ownership of your “books” and your ability to share them with your family and friends. It is my understanding that you can share Kindle books more liberally than Audible. According to what I read from Audible, you can only share with your digital book library with one adult and no children. This seems excessively restrictive and more costly than owning a real book and sharing it with whomever you like.
    I’m interested in your understanding and opinion of this policy.

  13. Mimi Pollack says:

    Thanks for these tips! I have a hard time searching for whispersync books on Amazon – is there a best way to search? Thanks!

  14. Mark White says:

    Great tip. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Audible for years, mainly because of the high cost of subscriptions. Your idea is a neat way to save on costs.

    • rjl says:

      unfortunately, it seems like they’ve gotten rid of the audiobook companion for a lot of kindle editions. i managed to get one for rick riodan’s percy jackson’s greek gods but they didn’t offer one for percy jackson’s greek heroes.

  15. Mackenzie says:

    I’m addicted to audiobooks and can on average listen to one a day, which gets very expensive if you get them from audible. I have found ways to get them much cheaper and that’s how I’ve built up my library. I do a few things, first I signed up for Kindle Unlimited it’s where you pay a monthly fee for unlimited books. Some of those books come with the free audiobook so I look for those. I also look for whispersync, they have many free whispersync books or cheap ones and the audiobook is usually only $1.99. Even though I don’t usually read the book it’s cheaper to pay even $3 for the book and $1.99 for the audiobook then paying anywhere from $15-20 on just the audiobook. Amazon also has many free books with the option to get the audiobook for $1.99 so I look for those too. Once you buy your first book that way (or you can look them up individually) amazon will show you what audiobooks they have for the books you have already in your library and usually those are only $1.99. I have several books I’ve got over the years for free or cheap and never read so I was able to purchase those audiobooks to listen to. Just a tip, when you do this it’s good to have another device handy to look up the book to see if you want to get it or not because you can’t read a description of what the book is about. I’ve been signed up for years to couple of sites that send you daily free or cheap books so I’ve been using those sites more as well. My two favorite is ebub and pixel of ink. I keep “list” of free audiobooks on Amazon (because of my Kindle unlimited), most aren’t new York times best seller books obviously (although I have found some) but I’ve found some great books and new authors I really like. Also, if a book is free and interest you “buy” it because it could be $10 the next day. I’ve seen that happen many times. And keep checking for the audiobooks of book you own, they are always releasing new ones and if it’s expensive at first, keep checking back, because it can be lowered by a lot in a short time. For example, two weeks ago I listened to a book and didn’t realize it had a second book until I was half way thru the first one. When i first noticed the second book didn’t have the audiobook, just the Kindle. The day I finished the first book I saw they now had the audiobook for the second one, but they wanted $14.99 for it because it just came out that very day. So I ended up just reading the second book because it was free. It took me two days to read it and in that time the audiobook went from $14.99 to $1.99. So I’m glad I didn’t buy it. Audible also has free books and podcast now, not many but they change every month. It’s like staff favorites or something and those are only to borrow, not keep.
    I’ve been thinking about just canceling my audible account because it’s so much cheaper buying through Amazon. For example last month I used my credit for a stephan king book that was $50 or 1 credit, after after I looked on Amazon and for $12 I could have got the audiobook and the kindle book. I try to use my credits wisely for books that cost more than my membership but it’s hard when most of them are cheaper on Amazon.
    Hope some of these tips are helpful to my fellow audiobook lovers.

  16. Alicia says:

    Have you noticed that the most of the books that you can add the audiobook (as described above) have now increased in price? Most that used to be 1.99, 2.99 or even 4.99 are now all 7.49. Many that I have purchased in the past have been raised. Do you know why this is and if this is going to be the lowest price going forward? There are still a few deals out there but not nearly as many as there were just last week. How can one find out what is going on with their pricing? Help!

    • Mackenzie says:

      I have noticed, thankfully I have built up quite a large library of audiobooks because I buy them when I see them at low prices and not just when I need a new book. There is still some good deals out there you just have to look harder now.

    • Anne says:

      It’s true that many of these prices have gone up, but plenty of other prices have gone down. I’m not sure WHY they fluctuate so often, but they certainly do—and in both directions.

      I hope that helps!

  17. Marcie Boyer says:

    I actually searched to see if others through the same thing, I don’t always buy the whispersync version because they were “Always” pretty reasonably priced (1.99 to 2.99) but now most of them are $7.49. Doesn’t make sense, maybe they could have expained

  18. Lori says:

    I’ve been playing around with Audible today after seeing I was able to get Little Women for free with narration added at a nominal cost. But It’s tricky finding out who the narrators are sometimes on Amazon. I also ordered Persuasian and the sample sounded decent and it was so cheap, too, I just went ahead and ordered. I wonder if there are any tips for finding the best narrators? Or finding out when the best narrators audio books go on sale?

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