What Is Audible Narration? The Ultimate Guide for Avid Readers and Listeners

Are you an avid reader who can never find enough time in the day to devour as many books as you‘d like? Or perhaps you prefer having stories read aloud to you while driving, exercising, or doing chores around the house. In either case, Amazon‘s Audible Narration feature may be the perfect solution to maximize your reading time and enjoyment.

As an expert in the retail and consumer space, I‘ve thoroughly researched this innovative offering to bring you the most comprehensive guide to Audible Narration. By the end, you‘ll understand exactly what it is, how it works, what it costs, and how to take advantage of it as a savvy consumer. Let‘s dive in!

Audible Narration Defined

In simplest terms, Audible Narration is a premium feature that allows you to seamlessly switch between reading a Kindle ebook and listening to the professionally narrated audiobook version. When you purchase a Kindle ebook that is "Audible Narration-ready," you have the option to add the full audiobook recording at a discounted price compared to buying it standalone.

Once you own both the Kindle ebook and Audible audiobook, you can effortlessly alternate between reading on your Kindle device or app and listening via the Audible app without ever losing your place. The Whispersync technology automatically syncs your progress, bookmarks, and annotations between formats, letting you pick up right where you left off.

How Much Does Audible Narration Cost?

The best part about Audible Narration is the bundled pricing model, which allows you to snag the audiobook at a deep discount when purchasing a Kindle ebook. The exact price varies by book, but the audio companions typically cost between $1.99 to $12.99 when added to a digital book purchase. Considering most Audible audiobooks cost $15-30 when bought alone, the savings are substantial.

To put this into perspective, let‘s say you bought the Kindle edition of a new bestseller for $14.99. Then you see the option to "Add Audible Narration" for $12.99 more. For a total of $27.98, you get both the ebook and audiobook, which likely would have cost $40+ if bought separately. For avid readers who like flexibility in how they consume books, the financial benefit of Audible Narration really adds up.

As a real-world example, I recently bought the Kindle version of Barack Obama‘s memoir "A Promised Land" for $17.99. The audiobook, which clocks in at a whopping 29 hours, costs $65.94 on its own. But thanks to Audible Narration, I got the audio for just $12.99 more. That‘s an 80% discount compared to buying it standalone!

Whispersync Makes Switching Seamless

One of the coolest aspects of Audible Narration is the Whispersync technology that ties the Kindle ebook and audiobook together. With Whispersync, your current reading position, bookmarks, notes, and highlights are automatically synced between the two formats.

So let‘s say you read a few chapters of your Kindle ebook over morning coffee, jotting down some thoughts and marking interesting passages. Later, while walking the dog, you open the Audible app on your phone, hit play, and the narration picks up precisely where you stopped reading earlier. You can even set the playback speed to be slower or faster based on your preference.

Then, when you sit down to read again that evening, you open your Kindle book, and voila, you‘re right where the audio left off. Any bookmarks or notes you made while listening are there waiting for you in the ebook. It‘s a technological magic trick that makes the reading experience feel frictionless and fun.

With Whispersync, you‘re no longer forced to choose between reading a physical book or listening to the audio – you can have both without any inconvenience. As someone who loves reading but struggles to fit it into my busy life, I‘ve found Audible Narration game-changing for making the most of small pockets of time. Those 15 minute chunks spent commuting, folding laundry, or waiting in line really add up!

Devices That Support Audible Narration

To access your Audible Narrations, you‘ll need a compatible device with both the Kindle and Audible apps installed. Luckily, most modern smartphones, tablets, and computers fit the bill. You can currently listen to Audible companions on:

  • iOS devices (iPhone, iPad)
  • Android devices (phones, tablets)
  • Kindle Fire tablets
  • Windows 10+ PCs
  • macOS computers
  • Alexa-enabled devices (Echo, etc.)

If using an Alexa speaker like an Echo, you can simply say "Alexa, read [book title]" and it will intelligently know to play your Audible Narration, picking up where you last left off. It‘s pretty nifty, especially for busy hands moments like cooking dinner or folding laundry.

The notable exception is Kindle e-readers like the Paperwhite and Oasis, which can play Audible audiobooks directly but don‘t support Whispersync with ebooks. To take advantage of the syncing, you‘re better off using a smartphone or tablet and switching between the Kindle and Audible apps.

Audible Narration for Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading

In addition to purchasing Audible Narration companions, there are a couple ways to access them at no additional cost if you‘re an Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited member:

For select titles in the Prime Reading catalog, which rotates periodically, you can borrow the ebook and add Audible Narration for free. Look for the Prime headphones badge on a book‘s detail page to know it includes the audio. Once borrowed, you‘ll have access to both formats until the book is returned.

With a Kindle Unlimited subscription ($9.99/month), you get unlimited access to over 2 million ebooks. For some of these titles, Audible Narration can be added at no extra cost, essentially giving you an all-you-can read and listen buffet. Like with Prime Reading, this is only available on select books and the Audible edition becomes inaccessible when you return the ebook.

As a consumer, taking advantage of these free Audible Narrations is a great way to discover new authors and series risk-free. Especially if you‘re already paying for Prime or Kindle Unlimited, it‘s practically like getting bonus content thrown in. Just remember, the "free" Audible companions are only accessible for as long as you have the matching Kindle book borrowed.

Why Audiobooks Are All the Rage

Even beyond the specific perks of Audible Narration, it‘s worth underscoring just how popular and profitable audiobooks have become in recent years. The global audiobooks market size hit $4.2 billion in 2021 and is projected to nearly double by 2030, growing at an impressive 14% compound annual growth rate.

There are a few key factors driving the audio boom:

  1. Multitasking while listening – Many people find it difficult to carve out dedicated time to sit and read a print book without distraction. Audio allows you to fit "reading" into busy lifestyles more easily, letting you consume a book while walking, driving, doing housework, etc.

  2. Screen fatigue – With so much time spent looking at computers, phones, tablets, and TVs, listening provides a refreshing break for tired eyes. Audio lets you rest your vision without sacrificing mental engagement.

  3. Improved production quality – In the early days of books on tape, audio quality was subpar and narration rather dull. Today‘s audiobooks boast crystal clear sound and are often read by celebrities or the authors themselves. It‘s become an art form unto itself.

  4. Intimacy of oral storytelling – Listening to a book can feel more intimate than reading print, almost as if the narrator is having a one-on-one conversation with you inside your head. For some, the experience is even more immersive than visual reading.

  5. Accessibility – For those with visual impairments or other conditions like dyslexia that make reading difficult, audiobooks are a godsend. Well-produced audio can make literature accessible to a wider audience.

Tips for Getting Started With Audible Narration

Ready to dive into the world of Audible Narration and revolutionize how you read? Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Update your apps – Make sure your device has the latest versions of the Kindle and Audible apps installed to take advantage of Whispersync functionality.

  2. Upgrade your earbuds – Especially if you plan to listen for long stretches, having a comfortable pair of earbuds or headphones will make a huge difference. Don‘t skimp here!

  3. Start with lighter fare – It can take some getting used to initially processing stories by ear rather than eye. So I recommend starting with a favorite, easy-reading title in a genre you love while easing into listening.

  4. Sample the narration – You wouldn‘t buy concert tickets without checking if you vibe with a band first. Same goes for narrators. Always listen to the audio sample before purchasing Audible Narration to see if the reading style suits you.

  5. Leverage your library – Many public libraries now offer free ebook and audiobook lending via Overdrive/Libby to patrons. Always check if a title you want is available free before buying.

  6. Remove the pressure – Adding audio to your reading life shouldn‘t become a burdensome obligation. Give yourself grace to listen when it enhances your experience, and opt for print or ebook when you prefer it. Reading is highly personal.

  7. Find your tribe – Discussing books is half the fun, so consider joining an audiobook club locally or online to connect with fellow listeners. Audible even has an "Hear & Now" club in its app for live events and chats.

As an innovation that marries print and audio seamlessly, Audible Narration provides a simple yet brilliant way for book lovers to immerse themselves in stories anytime, anywhere. With the power to transform pockets of wasted time into opportunities for imagination and learning, it‘s a gamechanger for supercharging your reading life.

Whether you use it to revisit an old favorite, tackle an ambitious classic, or binge a new bestseller, Audible Narration makes reading more accessible, affordable, and adaptable to the demands of modern life. The only real question is, which great book will you experience in a whole new way? The literary possibilities are limitless!