I just bought my first audiobook at Chirpbooks.com—a title by Karin Slaughter, for $0.99.
Chirp offers a constantly changing selection of audiobooks at steep, limited-time discounts. I downloaded their listening app. So far, so good. It’s easy to use and the listening experience is quite good.
Based on what I’ve been reading online, the reaction to Chirp within the writing and narrating community has been mixed.
On one hand, there is a long overdue need for a viable competitor to Audible. From the consumer’s perspective, Audible’s membership is somewhat expensive and restrictive. From a creator’s standpoint, it’s inflexible; and the entire setup makes it difficult for indie creators to compete with big names from New York publishing houses.
On the other hand, I have seen some concerns that Chirp represents a “race to the bottom”—which has certainly occurred in the ebook market (thanks in no small part to Kindle Unlimited).
I don’t think that is Chirp’s agenda, though. Chirp offers only a limited number of discounted titles at any given time. This doesn’t seem to be an effort to lower all audiobook prices to $0.99, or even $4.99.
Chirp will, I believe, find the most traction among audiobook users who have very broad tastes, and who are willing to exercise flexibility in what they listen to. These are the listeners who probably would have been getting most of their audiobooks at the library, anyway.
But if you want the latest title from a bestselling author, the odds are high that you’ll still have to buy it at full price—and probably from Amazon/Audible.