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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77 comments

  1. Jenn says:

    i figured this out last fall and have been loving it! Thanks for the additional tips!

    Question– can you put a link to your Outlander reviews? I actually just recently was trying to search your website for a review of this series (not sure I found everything you had to say about them). I started book one (using WhisperSync!) but before I go further, I’m trying to decide if I really want to devote that much time to these books:) Specifically, can address the level of sexual content in the books?
    Thanks!!

    • Anne says:

      I never did an in-depth Outlander review. They’re sprinkled through QuickLit and a few other books and reading posts, and this newsletter is about Outlander.

      For the specific question: there’s a good bit of sexual content. Most scenes are isolated, and last several pages, and it’s easy enough to skip a few pages and move along with the story. Some books have more than others. If you DON’T want to read novels with racy content, the Outlander series isn’t for you. 🙂

  2. amber says:

    I bought The Wizard of Oz read by Anne Hathaway recently using this method. The Kindle book was free, and I got the Audible book for 99 cents. What a super deal!

  3. Karisa says:

    I’ve always been so adamantly anti-ebook, but you’re really convincing me to look into getting a kindle. Have they created any deals yet where you can buy the physical book and get the ebook with it? I would love the convenience of a kindle, but sometimes I need the book too.

    • Alicia G says:

      I did this for awhile but like the production value of Audible better & my daughter gets frustrated at the intro at the beginning at every single chapter or when a book switches narrators midstream. So grateful for Librivox for a resource but at least for us, the classics w/ the whispersync discount are worth it.

      • Tawny says:

        I agree, I used Librivox a lot while I was a struggling college student. Now, the time devoted to managing my content and suffering through the introductions and changing narrators is not worth the few dollars I save. My library does have Overdrive, so I’m usually happy to save my money and utilize their free service. However, sometimes there is a wait time involved or I want to listen to an old favorite – that’s when I turn to Audible. As my library grows and I stock up on cheap reads I am using Audible more and my library less.

        Audible is a seamless and relatively cheap method of delivery if you do it right. The classics can usually be had for free on Kindle and $0.99-$3.00 for the audiobook with Whispersync. I always check the Kindle + Whispersync price before buying on Audible, many times it is cheaper than buying it or using a member credit.

        Audible also has daily deals for just a few dollars if you’re a member. Worth getting the email just to pick up a book here or there. Save your member credits for the buy one get two sales or a really expensive new book you must have now. Since a credit is $12+ each you have to use them wisely. Keep your wish list updated and scroll through now and again to see if any are on sale. I also highly recommend The Great Courses – only when they’re on sale for $6.95 though!

        • Anne says:

          You don’t even have to be a member to buy the daily deals! (You do have to be a member to take advantage of their sales, like The Great Courses ones you’re talking about.)

  4. Tristan says:

    Omg, this is awesome! I am now spending the morning scrolling through my Kindle books to see which ones I need in audio as well!

  5. Hah! Your disclaimer for the Outlander books made me laugh… I knew they were popular, but thought they were strictly historical fiction when I read the first one. I was a little bit shocked and scandalized by the explicit and frequent sexual content!

    • Tawny says:

      A very good friend referred Outlander to me several years ago. I remember being so shocked that she would recommend a book with such explicit scenes in it. When I told her I loved the book, I was just surprised that she would recommend it she said that someone from her church recommended it to her so she understood!

      Sexy scenes aside, the love story trumps all. If you like them, read them, if not just skip them and enjoy the rest of the story.

  6. orygunreader says:

    Another good option to consider is Kindle unlimited ($10/month). They offer a number of books with narration and the narration is from Audible.

  7. Leanne says:

    Thank you so much for this information! I love finding new sources for cheaper, quality books. Like many of your readers, I would go broke paying full price for all the books I read. Much appreciated!

  8. Jane says:

    This is awesome!!! I use both kindle and audible and kind of vaguely knew about whispersync but didn’t put 2 and 2 together that whispersync can actually be a cheaper way to listen to books (compared to audible) – thank you so much!!! It makes me wonder why audible exists if it is cheaper in general to buy the ebook and audio (whispersync) maybe more titles are available in audible? Anyway – thank you so much for sharing your insights on all this, truly appreciated! It’s such a great idea because often I listened to an audible book and then for example had some time to read in bed and I wanted to continue with my audible book but it feels weird to just sit and listen (audible for me is when I am “on the move”) so now with whispersync there is the option of listening on the move and reading sitting down – does that make sense?

    • Tawny says:

      Whispersync is actually Audible. It is the link between Kindle e-books and Audible audio-books. Since both Kindle and Audible are owned by Amazon Whispersync just refers to the titles that can be purchased through both entities and work together to keep your place while reading and listening interchangeably.

    • Anne says:

      The Audible companion available for the Kindle books is an Audible book, the same as you would buy on the Audible site. The difference is that only ONE Audible companion is available for the ebook, whereas on Audible a classic like Pride and Prejudice would have ten different narrators to choose from. On the plus side: no decision angst! But the con is if you don’t care for that particular narrator, you’re stuck.

      You can read reviews for the Audible companion audio on the Audible site before you purchase. (Audible reviews are broken down into “story” and “performance” categories, so you can read exactly what other people thought of that narrator before you buy, as well as listen to the sample.)

  9. Mandi says:

    My best purchase using this has been The Enchanted and Adventures Collections. The Kindle version of each is $6.99, and you can add the Audible version for $1.99 each. That’s 5 complete books for $9 (normally $69.99 each and really well done).

    http://www.audible.com/pd/Kids/The-Enchanted-Collection-Audiobook/B00F7CX1XE/ref=a_search_c4_1_8_srTtl?qid=1424812739&sr=1-8

    http://www.audible.com/pd/Kids/The-Adventure-Collection-Audiobook/B00G4A9HVS/ref=a_pd_Kids_T_c4_1_1_i_pd_sims_1?ie=UTF8&pf_rd_r=1PGA2TYFRF3NGNV2KSK0&pf_rd_m=A2ZO8JX97D5MN9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_i=detail-page&pf_rd_p=1973556862&pf_rd_s=center-4

  10. K says:

    I love this idea! I usually prefer to listen to audiobooks as a re-read, not the initial run through, because I get distracted sometimes and suddenly realise I’ve missed 10 or 15 mins of the audio! If I already know the story, it’s less of a problem (because I can remember how the book goes and don’t have to try to skip back to where I tuned out).
    Audible only recently got releases in Australia, and I checked it out hut I didn’t realise you could combine both together like this! Audible is already way cheaper than the iStore for most audiobooks ($25 for A Game of Thrones, instead of $60), but this will just make it even better!

  11. Fiona says:

    I’ve used whispersync very successfully when i was listening to Dracula last year. The story got very exciting at one point and the (excellent) narration wasn’t going fast enough for me so I switched to the ebook. Then I slowed back down to the audiobook so that I could sit around the campfire in the dark and listen to the ending. It was perfect to be alone, under the stars and listening to this amazing book. I listened to the Alan Cumming/Tim Curry version on audible. Seriously this was a reading highlight for me.

  12. Ashley G. says:

    I don’t know what it is like in the States, but here in Canada a lot of libraries lend out e-books the same as they do real books. You have a password and can download an e-book for the three weeks, and when three weeks is up, the books are gone. And it costs nothing! It’s a great (and VERY cheap) alternative to buying e-books! 🙂

    • Tawny says:

      It is very similar here in Washington State. My library lends both e-books and audio-books through an app very similar to Audible. As is typical with the library the most popular titles usually have a waiting list though.

  13. Megan C. says:

    Thank you for this! I never understood the whisper sync option, but this makes so much sense. Because of your posts, I’m now an audiobook fan, and I love the strategy behind finding good ebook/audiobook combos.

  14. Lindsy says:

    THIS IS LIFECHANGING. Just purchased “Unbroken” this way. Huge books intimidate me sometimes, because I feel like I’m going to be reading them forever. I need to make sitting down to read more of a priority. Now audible has been a lifesaver for me. Read while doing dishes, laundry, you name it. I LOVE this trick!!

  15. Katie says:

    Thanks for the tips! I scored the P&P deal and one with Don Quixote. I’m not sure it’s exactly the whisper sync thing, but I got the audiobook for cheap with my purchase of the Don Quixote kindle book.

  16. April Clark says:

    I honestly thought I knew every way there was to get audiobooks at the best price. But after reading your blog, I feel like I had been in a black-and-white movie and now am looking at the emerald city in technicolor. Thank you!

  17. Meredith says:

    This is great Anne, I don’t know how I missed this post last month – it’s genius that Kindle and audible finally figured this out – I am hooked and so excited to get started. This is going to open up a whole new world of reading for our family. We’ve been audio book lovers for years, but now we’ll be able to read and listen to even more, especially moi! Thanks again for going the extra mile on this one 🙂

  18. mom2triplets04 says:

    I just recently cancelled my monthly kindle audible fee. I moved over to scribd where it’s only $8.99 a month for unlimited audibles. Plus first month is free. This month I actually listened to 5 books for free. Hopefully I will continue my 5 book status for $8.99 much cheaper than the amazon $12.99 a month for only one book.

    • April Clark says:

      mom2triplets04, thank you SO much for your comment. I listen to so many audiobooks that Audible and even Whispersync wasn’t affordable for me. I’m already doing the scribd trial month, thanks to you.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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…

  26. 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!

  27. 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..

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