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Audible 101: Value for money

Audiobooks are a growing genre of entertainment. For those of us who used to read a lot and now find ourselves far too busy to pick up something as lavish as an actual book, they’re simply the most efficient way to keep up a fiction adiction.

But the platforms are odd, often ill explained, and occasionally daunting to understand. As such, here is a short guide to your first few months on Audible, how to get started building a library, and to make the best of your first, most precious credits.

Firstly a small explanation for those uninitiated with Audible’s process. Unlike Netflix or standard streaming services, you can’t simply help yourself to anything from Audible. Instead you get access to their originals, as well as a monthly credit with which to buy (and keep for eternity…) an audiobook.

For people who have been a member of Audible for some time, these credits have a tendency to pile up. Occasionally, you can even buy more. But for the first month, these options are not available to you. So what should you do?

Firstly: A little Audible URL magic.

See, if you go to audible.com, you’ll find as basic a browsing library as you can expect. It does the job, though is a little bit uninspired. A better place to go is the advanced search which will let you be a lot more specific.

However, there’s something more we can do. Do a blank search and your URL bar will look something like this:


Find the box that says “Sort by” and switch it to “Running time” and you’ll see this in your URL bar:


What these are are URL parameters/arguments. They’re used to pass information from the page you’ve come from, to the page you’re going. You can spot them because they start from the question mark symbol (?) and can be broken down into a list of the format key=value with & as a separator. Forms use this mechanic when to post entered data to other URLs. For example:


Let's break this down...

? - start of the url parameters
keywords= - no keywords to search by
&title= - no title to search by
&author_author= - no specific author
&narrator= - ... or narrator
&publisher= ... or publisher
&publication_date=20230077031 - published in the last 30 days
&feature_six_browse-bin=20230028031 - feature value for "in English", I suspect
&feature_twelve_browse-bin=20229998031 - feature value for "Format: Audiobook"

Easy. Right. So if we go back to our search URL:


asc typically means "Ascending". Change it to desc.


And just like that, we get all of Audible’s audio books in descending order of playtime. Why this option isn’t included in the dropdown menu is not immediately obvious from a technical standpoint. But from a business standpoint it is. Each credit is worth money. As you might expect, the business side of audible wants you spending as much as possible.

That being said, scrolling down the list of playtime shows that you can get fairly far on limited credits. Of course, if you’re just looking to maximize your listening time, start at the top and work your way down.

But a few entries down we end up at a scifi collection that will net you 16 books, including some of the classics. Frankenstein, the Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and a large helping of Jules Verne’s most famous works. You can do worse with your first credit than one-hundred-and-eight hours of classics.

There’s also Sherlock Homles: The Definitive Collection, narrated by Steven Fry for just over seventy hours of entertainment.

“All DEAD” deserves a nod of recognition as the longest thing of any kind to appear on Audible, though having never listened, I can’t say much more than that.

10 Masterpieces You Have to Read Before You Die 1 is hell of a convoluted title, but does contain classics. Jane Austen’s complete works, Mark Twain’s Complete works, George Orwell, Shakespeare. Even the bible, if you’re that way inclined.

In short, aim for authors, not books. Classics, rather than modern works. Lots of their work falls into the public domain, which made it freely available for narrators and gives a great deal of choice and value. Though technically a lot of these can be found free on Librivox, so keep that in mind.