Audible Japan – my number one resource for listening to and shadowing Japanese for the past few years. My alarm went off this morning and I open Audible to continue listening to 自分に「ダメ出し」をしてしまうあなたへ, which I’ve been enjoying lately. I’m interrupted with a dreaded app message: “Audible Unlimited Listening is Ending.”
A horrible feeling in my stomach took control. What? No. Wait. You aren’t going to… My initial fear of the app ending was quickly replaced with what I knew was coming next. Audible Japan is ending its subscription model of unlimited listening. They are replacing it with a “coin” model. Sadness seeped in.
I wasn’t aware of this until now, but Audible Japan was one of the few (only?) countries that had an unlimited audio book listening model. The coin model has been used in America and elsewhere for a while now. But that doesn’t ease the pain. The sales pitch just made that pain I was feeling grow worse and worse.
For 1500 yen (~$14)/month, you get one coin. With that one coin, you can purchase an audio book. This is bad for me. I am a heavy listener. I go through at least a few audio books a week. So for me, that will raise the price of Audible Japan from $14 to at least $100+/month.
Don’t worry, this isn’t where I go off on Audible. Because I still love it. And while the awesome freedom of this app has made me spoiled over the past 2 years, I understand.
Audible Japan was too good. 1,500 yen for unlimited audio books was an incredible deal for someone like me. Almost as good a deal as when Amazon Kindle Japan briefly had a period (which they seriously regretted and soon rectified) where they offered unlimited manga reading. Audible Japan provided a large bulk of my immersion and shadowing environment. All without the trouble of having to piece it together myself.
The content selection was good, the voice actors were great, and it was one of my most-used apps. However, I assume it was expensive to keep up and just wasn’t making enough revenue to keep it going. Or maybe Audible Japan did this as a trial 3-year period to get people addicted so that they would eventually switch over to a more sustainable model.
Looking at the bright side
First, it’s not happening until 8/20. That’s a month away and enough time to go on an audio binge. More importantly, there are some pluses:
1. You own the audio books. Even if you are no longer a member, you can still listen.
2. You get a 30% discount on books purchased past your 1-coin limit. I’m not sure how much individual audio books will cost, but this slightly softens the blow.
3. If you’ve been an Audible member, for the first 3 months of this new system you get an extra bonus coin for each of those 3 months.
4. There is a 30-day trial of the coin system (I’m assuming this also counts for current members?)
5. The last book you are listening to in August you automatically get for free.
6. You can exchange a book after you’ve already started listening to it (I’m assuming there will be some kind of limit)
The Real Positive
The above is making the best of an unfortunate situation. But the real shining plus is one thing I am excited about: more content.
There has been great content on Audible Japan up till now. But it paled in comparison with its Western counterpart. I always wanted more, and was often forced to just re-listen to my favorites until new content was released. Since new content came in the form of only a few new audio books a week, which I may or may not be interested in, re-listening was my main activity on the platform.
With the new coin system, they promise to bring in much more content (including popular best sellers in Japan). This is a huge welcome and makes me very happy.
It’s still a month away, so we’ll see how I feel about it once the transition is made. But I’m hoping it continues to be the first thing I still reach for every morning.