Founded 20 years ago this January, Audible is the Number #1 seller of audiobooks in the world. For many people, including myself, the company's name is synonymous with relaxing into a great listen and emerging from the experience a more informed and sensitive person.
There is no greater gift than a gift that can inform the mind and soften the heart of a fellow human being. It is therefore going to come as a great surprise and disappointment to many people this holiday season when they find out that Audible removed the ability of customers to give the gift of a specific audiobook to a loved one.
Prior to April 2017, it was an easy and joyful experience to give an audiobook sold on Audible to a friend, family, or colleague as a gift. This feature extended to Audible credits, which members could give to loved ones as a gift and which could be redeemed for specific audiobooks of the gift recipient's choice.
Since the roll back of these features, it is now only possible to give the gift of an Audible membership (starting at USD $45). Reading through the Gift Membership terms, there's an added catch. Unclaimed credits associated with a gift membership expire 6 months after the gift membership is activated. While this term may technically be legal for Audible to have in place, the notion of expiring gifted credits goes against the spirit of laws protecting gift card value and certainly goes against the spirit in which the gift membership was given in the first place.
Not surprisingly, Reddit has been fired up over this roll back of features:
"Crap ... I gifted books to my brother several times a year; I guess that won't be happening anymore"
"While I only used the gift feature about once every 2 months it seriously has me considering other audiobook options"
"I'm angry at this change! I wanted to gift a book today and I couldn't, so now they're losing me as a customer"
"Only just found out about this and I'm having to restrain myself from unleashing a torrent of obscenities."
"Totally unexeptable [sic].... I am considering cancelling my membership!!!!"
The Reddit thread also speculates that the Give as Gift feature was disabled because of a black market that had emerged for Audible credits on eBay.
It is hard to imagine how the black market for Audible credits could have possibly exceeded the commercial value to Audible of the Give as Gift feature, especially in the lead up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Holiday Season in general. This is to say nothing of the other benefits that accrue to companies that sell their products, services, and experiences as gifts.
As an avid audiobook listener myself, a proud & long-time Audible member, and the owner of a business that is focused 100% on gift sales, I urge Audible's founder Don Katz and the company's senior management to seriously reconsider their removal of the Give as Gift feature. It's Ebenezian and short-sighted.
And while Audible's product team goes about re-enabling this feature, I encourage them to also have a run through our original gift sales checklist to ensure that anyone who wants to give the gift of an audiobook sold on Audible can do so easily and joyfully.