When audio enthusiasts look for downloadable audiobooks, they usually think of Audible first, unaware that there is now another game in town. Downpour.com, Blackstone Audio’s online audiobook retail site, offers not only competitive pricing but all the ease of downloads you’ll find at Audible. Downpour also offers two additional features that have significantly impacted my buying habits – DRM-free buying and lower pricing for purchasing those extra audiobooks beyond your monthly credits.
The DRM-free factor is big. How often have you been frustrated by your inability to loan your eBooks or downloaded audiobooks? That’s DRM at work. Here’s what Craig Black, founder of Blackstone Audio, has to say about DRM:
“DRM stands for “digital rights management.” DRM is a system for protecting copyrights of content circulated on digital media by encrypting the data so that it can only be accessed by one—or at best a few—user. The problem with DRM is that it limits the number of devices a listener can use to play his or her book. I happen to own and use several devices, including a computer, tablet, iPod, and smartphone. All of Downpour’s content is offered DRM free, so I am able to seamlessly toggle between my devices. I believe this is what most customers prefer, and we are committed to providing our customers with the best experience possible.”
In addition, you can choose to download your book in M4B format, MP3 format (for those using devices outside of the Apple family), or both depending on the device you want to listen on and you can do so on an unlimited number of devices. I can now share my Downpour purchases with my husband, my daughter, or even my sister. There are no worries about the incompatibility of our iTunes libraries or the variety of players we may own. My mind is so firmly entrenched in the rules of DRM, that the simplicity of the whole Downpour process is a little hard to grasp. I can tell my husband, “I have that in my Downpour library if you want to download it.” That’s all it takes.
And then the pricing. At Audible, I pay $22.95 a month for two credits ($11.48 each) with my Platinum membership while my husband pays $14.95 a month for one credit with his Gold membership. At Downpour, I pay $12.99 for one credit a month. But here’s the Downpour bonus …
At Audible, I find myself playing a game of “Should I use all of my credits right now?” If I do choose to use all my credits, what happens when I discover a highly desirable release that I want now? Do I have the flexibility of purchasing extra discounted credits? Sometimes – sometimes not. Multiple times in the past, I have found myself with no credits (and no offer from Audible to purchase more credits) when I’m ready to purchase that desired title. Since I only purchase downloadable audiobooks, I must pay full price for it (the member’s full price) or wait until my next month’s credits roll around. With Downpour, I simply purchase additional credits, one at a time, for $12.99 each. To me, that is a big deal!
Downpour’s selection is not as big as Audible’s but it is growing quickly with well over 30,000 titles representing almost all of the major audiobook publishing houses. The site states that they are adding thousands of titles each month. I have monthly memberships with both Audible and Downpour (I easily exceed three audiobook purchases a month) and check Downpour first when considering a purchase. And if I know my husband is likely to be interested in a title, I purchase at Downpour if it’s available.
The downside? Not all audiobooks are DRM-free – a fact we still live with, unfortunately, so the selection is smaller. And you won’t find Audible’s self published (ACX ) offerings at Downpour nor will you find those Whispersync deals.
Generally, a credit buys one audiobook at either site but there are occasions where you will pay two at both Audible and Downpour but those instances may differ. Also, check the availability of unabridged versus abridged versions. Twice at Downpour, I discovered unabridged versions of books that were offered only in abridged format at Audible. It does pay to shop.
I love having an attractive alternative when buying downloadable audiobooks. I’m still pleased with Audible but adding Downpour to my regular audio shopping makes me feel more in control as a consumer. I like choices and, although there may be other companies offering downloadable audiobooks, I consider Audible and Downpour the strongest with their ease of access and selection.
We’re giving away a five credit package from Downpour courtesy of Downpour.com. The winner does not have to be a Downpour Audiobooks Club member to utilize these credits. Only a name and address are required for registration – no credit card information required.
Enter by following the easy entry link below by 11:59 p.m. eastern standard time on Thursday, July 10th. The giveaway is open to listeners in the U.S. and other areas where Downpour is available. We encourage your comments in our discussion area but to enter, you must follow the entry link. If you review for another website or blog and have access to free review copies, please refrain from entering. The winner will be notified by email on Friday and will have 24 hours to acknowledge their win so watch your email. Another winner will be selected on Saturday if the winner has not responded.
for your chance to win a 5 Credit Package from Downpour
Check out our Speaking of Audiobooks Facebook page to see romance audio updates, industry news, and links to articles of interest.
For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, be sure to check out our audio archives for further recommendations and discussions.
Our affiliated Goodreads group – Romance Audiobooks keeps growing and now has 798 members. Come join us for discussions in between columns.
Remember – this is new type of contest entry for AAR – we’d love to hear your comments but to enter, you must follow the link and give us your online name and email address.
Enjoy your listening.
– Lea Hensley
Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day.
Hi Lea, I’m a platinum member at Audible and my calculation for the 24 credits for $229 is $9.55 per book. Also, I get all 24 credits at once, so I can use them as I want to. Of course, this leads to my renewing early 2 or 3 times per year..
I know others who buy this way too. It really is the best of all Audible memberships if you can afford that $229 all at once. Thanks for telling others about it!
Congrats to Diana N, the winner of our 5 credit giveaway!
Yup. I’m a Platinum member at Audible also. But last year (I think) I saw Downpour come to the scene and I’m now been a member at both sites. You can never have enough audiobook credits. The DRM free and the lower prices at Downpour is just a win for us audiobook consumers. I can’t wait for their library is as big as Audibles. :)
Sounds like we see this the same way! I’m hoping the DRM issue will become a thing of the past but I think it will be years. This whole digital thing hit publishers suddenly and hard and they are still scrambling to make things work. I’m sure there are legalities that I don’t understand and profitability issues as well. Downpour has provided us with a sense of empowerment – however small it may be. I can actually share my Downpour audiobook!
Good post – I like the idea of having more than one choice but I have to be honest and admit that I often have extra credits at audible because I’m such an incredibly picky listening reader that the book really has to be good and I find that while I enjoy reading a romance – I don’t enjoy listening to romance – I know it’s weird – most of my listening reads at Audible tend to be suspense, some occasional romantic suspense and literary – I’m wild about the Rizoli and Isles, JD Robb, and a few others. I even like some of the classics that way.
Even though I love listening to the romance genre, I have to take a trip into general fiction and non-fiction titles on a regular basis. But then, I’m really picky too – I won’t listen unless the narrator is very well trained and talented as well. And the story content has to be pretty meaty these days too. But I still find a lot of romance to enjoy. Why do you think you don’t enjoy listening to romance? Is it the sex? Maybe a simplistic or cliched storyline?
I’ve used Downpour once before, and it was great! They let me download a copy of the audiobook to my computer without any issues.
The ease of use is key to me. This technophobe doesn’t care about learning anything new but I didn’t have to at Downpour. I chose my format and clicked on Download and ta-da! In my iTunes library.
I’ve used downpour and had good experiences. I can also recommend their app – it’s very user friendly. I’ve been thinking about putting my audio membership on hold and if I can use all my banked credits ever going down to the listener light plan. With whisper sync deals and a change in my job that doesn’t let me listen as much as before, I’ve not been using credits as often. I do love the flexibility in buying credits that Downpour offers.
I was afraid to try Downpour as I’m a technophobe – don’t ask me to try anything new with my electronic devices once I know the basics. I don’t need to find something better when okay is good enough! But Downpour was SO very easy and user friendly. All I needed to know was to download in M4B format for my Apple devices and I need to know that much at Audible! So, for any of you fellow technophobes out there – it’s a breeze to download.
Well, I love Downpour and haven’t regretted my membership since I sighned up in January. It’s been about two years since I last bought a book from Audible and I’ve been buying mp3CDs or downloads from retailers like Audiogo.uk (obviously before they went bankrupt) before I discovered this new portal.
I passionately, vehemently distrust and dislike DRM but couldn’t get around Audible at the time. Now, if possible, I’ve re-bought the audio books from Downpour that I loved from my Audible days or I finally bought the ones I’ve always wanted but were too scared to have to burn on a million discs in order to actually own them (paranoia rears its head).
My Downpour library is in the fifties (I have a one-hour train commute each direction twice a week) and my wishlist in the triple digits. I can only heartly recommend Downpour – though I have to admit that regional restrictions still annoy me but then “”nobody is perfect””.
When Blackstone purchased AudioGo (after AudioGo purchased Blackstone), their library was increased from 4.500 to 8,000 titles. There are so many jewels buried in that library as it contains several older audio publisher libraries such as Chivers. One of those titles, Karen Robards’ One Summer narrated by Anna Fields, had long been a hard-to-find. Only very old used hard copies, going for $60 plus each (and very few copies at that), could be found. Talking with a member of Blackstone’s management team one day, I asked for them to pull One Summer out of their vault and please, please release in download format. They did! I know there are more treasures to be uncovered!
Ah, but there you are talking Audiogo US while I was talking about Audiogo UK – and while some titles are now available that weren’t before so many more were lost that obviously had no rights sold to the American market.
Still, it seems that everything pops up eventually again in this time of the ever expanding net (I actually own the Robards title now – how could I resist?) and I can wait. Perhaps the BBC will get a clue (or the rights back) and start its own DRM-free dl portal. Till then, I just buy all the other numerous books I’m coveting.
And please excuse the annoying typos I probably still oversee even after looking at the text twice – my day is nearing its end and I’ll probably need to veg out in front of a DVD or wind down with my current audio book.
Iris – please share any good romance audio titles you know that are out there that are basically lost. We have a little back room team that searches this out!!
Since you won one of the One Summer copies, you have my email address. Feel free to email me with your choices if you prefer to talk that way.
I was originally very intrigued by downpour. However, once I spoke with a customer service representative, I became very annoyed. Apparently, downpour is not committed to making their website accessible to those customers who use screen readers. I’m totally blind, and cannot navigate a computer screen without a screenreader. I was also told that the app that would play downpour books on my iPod was not accessible.
I found it strange that a site that produced audiobooks would not be more receptive to accessibility. When I questioned the representative, he told me that blind and visually impaired people would not buy enough books from them to make this population a big enough part of their demographic. In other words, I’m not important enough. Needless to say, my loyalty remains with audible, who goes out of their way to ensure accessibility.
I’m not trying to discourage anyone from spending money at downpour. It’s a great service, if you can use it. I just want other users of assistive technology to be aware that this is not a company that will treat you with the respect due a customer.
It could be that Downpour is still a relatively new company and the accessibility issue for the visually impaired may be on their agenda. Although I certainly understand your annoyance, I can only hope that the customer service rep was somehow misinformed. Maybe a Downpour rep will see this and things could begin to change.
On the other hand, I have experienced very good customer service at Downpour for my rather common concerns. But I must say that Audible absolutely excels at customer service.
We at Blackstone Audio (main company) and Downpour.com (consumer arm) wanted to help resolve some concerns regarding our website and text to speak programs. As we have had a large concern on this issue, we have placed this request for an update with our developers and there will be an update soon. I have been told that an update by late July may fix a few issues you are experiencing. We are also continually working on optimizing the site for all of our customers’ needs. Please check back often for title and functionality updates. If anyone has questions about our site, title availability, pricing, etc… please feel free to let us know by visiting our site and use the “”Have a Question”” pullout on the right side of the browser window.
We thank everyone for their time, patience, and patronage.
Taking great pride in our products and services provided through Downpour.com, Blackstone considers its customers valued members of our family owned and operated company; it is the goal of any successful company to truly understand the needs and concerns of its customers feedback which is shared with us almost instantaneously in today’s world of social media.
I want to personally thank you, Shannon, for posting your candid comments regarding an unpleasant experience with our Customer Care Team – it is our responsibility to listen and address all concerns. We will be implementing additional processes to ensure that our customer care representatives have access to all departments and resources within the company in order to create solutions for the needs of every customer, no matter how big or small.
I would also like to extend my apologies, and assure you that we will be looking into solutions to make our site and our apps more compatible for our visually impaired customers using assistive technology. Blackstone Audio and Downpour.com have always been strong supporters of individuals with disabilities and know they are a very important part of our customer base.
President and CEO
Will definitely have to check out Downpour. Thanks for the informative article
I’d love to hear later about your experience.
It took me a long time to become an Audible customer because of their “”credits”” system. Every Audible customer I knew loved it because of the deals that come with membership, but when I would ask how much they actully ended up paying for audiobooks they would shrug.
As a business graduate and frugal spender I couldn’t wrap my brain around not knowing how much of a savings I was really getting. So, when I did become a gold member I tracked all my purchases on a spreadsheet including the Aubilble freebies, BOGO sales, $3.95 sales, and whispersync deals. In case you are curious, I have 56 books in my library and my average cost per audiobook is $7.78.
I still buy from other sources too. I’m glad to know Downpour is another option.
I find that very interesting!
I have no ideas what my average cost is but I bet it was lower in my early years at Audible when I was building my audio library. Now that I have dozens of titles in my library that I have yet to listen to, I imagine it is close to my cost of credits as I seldom take advantage of sales or Whispersync deals. It is hard for me to talk myself into adding more audiobooks unless I plan to start listening that very day!
I use my library more than Audible. The L.A. Overdrive catalogue is marvelous. Downpour sounds promising, but I already have credits stacked up at Audible to join another site.
Some day I want to feature a column on audiobooks through libraries. Mind if I contact you for a comment or two?
I have a thing or two to say, if you do!
For sure! Like Willaful I have a thing or to to say…..mostly positive in my case. Unless of course we are talking about One Click Digital…..that is a whole different kettle of fish!
I’m writing all your names down! Anyone else? I’ll target writing this in the next month or two!
Please feel free to contact me as well. For the most part all my reading – actual books, e-books and audio are all borrowed from the library, so I definitely have opinions! There are so many recommendations in your columns I would love to listen to, but are just not available in my libararies. As I have access to 2 of the 3 library systems in NYC you would think it wouldn’t be an issue.
Thanks Rachel! I’ll be in touch.
I have gotten back into digital borrowing from my library system, but I usually just get eBooks. I’m usually trying to read several things at once, so I can’t listen to an audiobook within the lending period, unless it’s very short. I did learn that if you borrow a Kindle book with a whispersync deal, then you can usually buy the whispersync audiobook. So sometimes I’ve done that.
Still, I like Downpour because they have lots of sales. If you sign up to get e-mail from them, they will keep you up-to-date on their many many many deals. Now I will have to remember to check them for those books I couldn’t find at the Other Place.
FWIW, I’m a prodigious multi-library utiliizer, as well! I’ll take reading materials any way I can get them: any source, any format. Worst scenario: Overdrive downloads won’t play on my Nook. Other than that, the (nearly) instant gratification of virtual libraries still amazes me!
Thanks Hilly! I have you on the contact list.
Great article Lea! I have only ever purchased audiobooks from Audible. Now I am definitely going to have to check out Downpour. I always wondered why Audible, which is owned by Amazon, doesn’t allow you to at least lend out your audiobook once (like Amazon allows with their Kindle e-books). I guess it has to do with the DRM-free feature you described.
My Downpour library is growing at a good pace. I buy all of my Sandra Brown audiobooks there now. I think you would enjoy her writing. Let me know if you want me to recommend a few.
Thanks Lea. I always welcome recommendations! It’s how I have found some of the best books! The only Sandra Brown title that I have is Sunset Embrace, but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.
Are you a fan of romantic suspense? For some reason, I’m thinking you aren’t into that sub-genre much. Just wanting to make the right recommendation.
I love romantic suspense! The more convoluted the plot the better!
Without a doubt, ENVY! It’s my all time favorite romantic suspense title narrated by one of my all time favorite male narrators – Victor Slezak. Oddly, it isn’t available at Downpour in unabridged format that I can see. That’s strange as two of the unabridged versions that I discovered at Downpour that Audible only had in abridged format were Sandra Brown titles. Expect lots of twists and turns!
More recs later…
Thanks! I just added Envy to my Goodreads TBR!
I’ve had an audible membership in the past, but I never felt like it was worth it. I’d use that credit up so quickly and not want to purchase more because of cost. And often there were no deals for extra credits. I like the idea of having a little more flexibility. I often use my library for audio books, but sadly we have a terrible selection.
Over at our Romance Audiobooks Goodreads group, I often see Whispersync deals where the combination of the Kindle version and Audible audio version is priced very low – often under $5.00 for both and you don’t have to be a Kindle reader to take advantage of the deal. Many listeners who don’t buy those monthly credits buy these deals instead. https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1861956-whispersync-deals—audio-kindle-combined-deals-iii