How Do You Compete with Free?

I love Audible, the audiobook app owned by Amazon. I have a monthly subscription because listening to audiobooks with my sons has transformed car rides, plane rides and folding laundry.

I usually have extra credits available because it takes us forever to listen to an 8-hour book in 15-minute chunks. But this summer’s trips have made me burn through my credits as we listened to the entire Percy Jackson series.

Tonight, as I faced a mountain of laundry and with no Audible credits available until later this week, I had a conundrum:

Listen to something again, buy more credits, or borrow an audiobook from the library?

I decided free was the best solution for tonight. I love the Overdrive app that lets me borrow ebooks from my local Alexandria library. But I had never borrowed an audiobook. How hard could it be? Turns out, very.

I did a search and found a bunch of great audiobooks available to borrow, even though Crazy Rich Asians has a waiting list a mile long. I downloaded The Wishing Spell with no issues. Trouble was, I could not figure out HOW to listen to it via the Overdrive app. There’s not an easy and obvious play button. I turned to Google. I was directed to try Overdrive Listen, which I couldn’t find in the app or the app store. I tried the website, I verified my account on my computer and iPad. Still no luck. I kept trying.

After about 20 minutes, I gave up. I bought something on Audible and I will likely stick with Audible in the future. Because even though my local library has audiobooks, Audible makes it sooooo easy and such a wonderful experience to listen to audiobooks.

In his book, The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly says most content these days is free, if you are willing to spend the time looking for it.

If content is free, where’s the value?

In the case of Audible, the value lies in the user experience. It’s so easy to log in to Amazon, find an audiobook and pay for it. Within a second, the book is on my phone and iPad. Within a minute, I can be listening. If I start listening on my phone and then switch to my iPad, Audible knows and lets me jump to the right spot. In this case, even though I could have gotten the same audiobook for free, I chose to pay for the user experience.

How do YOU compete with free?