Audiobook as gift - how to?

Easy question, I hope. We have a friend who enjoys listening to books on her iPhone. We’d like to give her a couple of books as gifts, but never having owned any Apple products we don’t have an “i” account.

What’s the best way to deliver an audio book for iPhone, as a Christmas gift? Do we have to establish an account with Apple to accomplish this?

Apple doesn’t have a monopoly. Amazon and other book retailers also sell them. Amazon owns Audible, which is subscription-based. Maybe a couple months subscription? Or a gift card to one of the retailers.

Yes, you can buy gifts through Audible.

I’ll look into Audible. We want to present her with specific books rather than gift cards or subscriptions.

You do want to find out what service she uses - gifting Audible credits (I don’t think you can do specific books, unfortunately) would be kind of a pain if she doesn’t already use Audible. Otherwise she has to set up an account and install an app just to listen to a couple of books.

Yeah, it’s dawning on me that we may have to ask her about that. Ruins the element of surprise, but that’s no big deal.

See if the books you want to gift are available as DRM-free media files in a widely supported format (such as FLAC or MP3). If so, you can buy and download them yourself, put them on a USB drive or memory card, and then give her the physical media. She can then copy them onto her phone.

This way has the advantage that the books will always be available to her, even if her subscription lapses or if her streaming service goes out of business. She can also freely move the files between devices and back them up.

At least for Audible, I’m fairly sure if you buy an audiobook, you own it and can keep it even if you let your subscription lapse.

ETA: From Amazon: “If you have any remaining credits on your account, you will be prompted to use them prior to canceling. Once you have canceled your Audible account, any remaining credits terminate with your membership. However, you will still be able to keep and access any audiobooks in your Library, even without a membership.”

Thank you! I was hoping this would be possible.

Or even a CD version of the book - easily ripped then imported into her iTunes library.

Though Audible is typically much cheaper than physical media.

Weirdly, it does look like you can’t give a specific audiobook through Audible - just credits.

They removed that feature relatively recently. I know that I’ve done it, but it’s not an option anymore.

OK, but that still doesn’t get around the other potential problems I raised. Audible books are encumbered by DRM and can be played only via proprietary software, so the giftee won’t have the freedom to move the book to a device of her own choosing; she’ll have to use one for which Amazon publishes its software. This may or may not be a problem now, but consider that Amazon might stop supporting certain platforms in the future. Besides this, the DRM probably imposes additional restrictions that don’t exist with conventional audiobooks. For example, it will probably prevent you from lending the audiobook to a friend, from backing it up to another device, or from selling it or giving it away if you decide you no longer want it.

I agree with those that pointed out that knowing what device she uses isn’t enough; you’d also want to know what service, source, or software she uses.

Of course, all of these are issues for any sort of media that uses DRM (e.g. ebooks), not just audiobooks. Personally, they don’t dissuade me from using Audible myself (and they do offer some advantages, like the ability to sync between different devices), but certainly make it inconvenient if you’re looking to give audiobooks as gifts.

(You can download Audible files onto a computer, copy them, store them on a flash drive, etc., but the DRM is still there determining who can and can’t play them. You used to be able to download Audible books and burn them (once) to audio CDs; I don’t know if you still can.)

There are other sites that sell audiobooks in DRM-free formats, so that you could do what psychonaut suggested, but the ones I know of all have much more limited selections than Audible. There are also audiobooks commercially available on MP3-CD, which make something you can wrap up and give, and which should be relatively easy to transfer to an iPhone or other device if she has a computer with an optical drive—but that may not be a safe assumption nowadays.

At one point, it was possible to burn the book to a CD once you’d downloaded it into iTunes.

The one time I tried this - a few years back now - I did something wrong and wound up with an incomplete set of discs for the book I was burning, but I’m pretty sure that was operator error.

Obviously, don’t do this with a book you plan to give away to someone - but it’s a useful tool if you want to play the book on a device that doesn’t have the ability to play from a phone / iPod / whatever.


Though B&N and Amazon have made that trickier - for example, you have to find an old version of B&N’s Nook desktop software.

As with my comment about Audible and CDs, this is only for personal use / ability to read books on any device you own (e.g. I read magazines purchased from B&N on my Kindle, as Amazon’s magazine format makes it impossible to do this.

I have no idea whether there are similar tools for Audible books - no need, since I obviously need some kind of device to play such a book, and I own an iPod. I don’t know if there’s a way to play an Audible book on a non-apple MP3 player.

Many MP3 players have Audible support built in. (All the ones I’ve ever bought have, but in these days of smart phones, a lot fewer people are buying stand-alone MP3 players.)

And of course Audible books can be played on any “smart” device for which the Audible app exists, such as Android phones and tablets.