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Audible, the Amazon-owned company with the world’s largest audiobook library has introduced a new, free service aimed at kids (and adults!) who want to brush up on some reading while they’re stuck indoors.
The program is called Audible Stories, and it’s impressively easy to use. There’s no membership (Audible, Amazon, or otherwise) to sign up for, no fees, and no limits on the amount of books you can stream. To access the library, use this link, and you’ll be taken to the Audible Stories home page.
From there you can select books from sections that peak your interest — titles in the library range from “littlest learner” to “teen,” with age-appropriate selections in each. There are also sections for “literary classics” and “folk & fairy tales,” which includes titles for older listeners.
Once you’ve picked a book, click on its cover artwork, and hit the “Start Listening” button. The book you’ve selected will start streaming almost immediately, and you have the options to change its speed, fast forward and reverse, or bring up a list of chapters. This is the full complement of tools Audible subscribers have when they listen; this is not a watered-down version of Audible, it’s the full experience.
The free library Audible is offering is equally impressive. You have more than choices, including classics like Harry Potter, Jack and the Beanstalk, Aesop’s Fables, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Black Beauty, Bambi, Atlas Shrugged, Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, Hamlet, The Jungle, and The Canterbury Tales. If you want to catch up on a classic, or share one of your favorites with the entire family, this is a great opportunity.
Additionally, some titles are available in Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Japanese. There are 20 or more books available in each non-English language.
Because it’s web browser-based, Audible Stories can be streamed on Macs, PCs, iOS devices, and Android devices without having to download an app. The site can even keep track of your place when you close out your browser window or restart your device, so you don’t have to keep the book open at all times. The first Harry Potter book can also be streamed on an Amazon Echo by asking Alexa.
I’ve tested Audible Stories on an iPhone and Windows PC running Firefox, and the experience was seamless. I was able to start streaming a book within about ten seconds of opening the page, and the audio quality was excellent.
One important restriction to note is that you can’t download these books for offline listening. They’re only available for streaming, and will only be freely available for a limited time.
If you want to download titles to keep forever, you’ll need to sign up for a paid Audible subscription, which costs $14.95 per month ($149.50 annually) for one credit (redeemable for one book a month). Subscribers also get a 30% discount on any titles in Audible’s entire library, and free access to a monthly stable of exclusives. Not sure if you want to commit? You can sign up for a 30-day free trial, which gets you one credit to use on the book of your choice.
If you’ve been looking for a fun, potentially educational activity to entertain yourself or your family, Audible Stories is a great option. It makes the service accessible to everyone, and has enough variety to keep you busy for a long while.