What You Need to Know Before You Return an Audible Book in 2024

It’s a fantastic service for subscribers that you can quickly and conveniently return Audible books. This great feature makes it easy for us listeners to take chances on audiobooks by authors and narrators we don’t know yet. But there are two things you absolutely need to know before you decide to return a book on Audible!

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What You Need to Know Before You Return Audible Books

There are two big issues with the Audible return policy: One affects you directly as a subscriber, and the other affects you indirectly because it is very bad for audiobook creators. And that’s also something you, as an avid listener and maybe even fan, need to be aware of!

How many Audible books can you return?

Audible’s info on how often you can exchange an audiobook is misleading to you as a customer. Many Audible subscribers think the audiobook service works like a digital library. They think you can always get several audiobooks for one Audible credit simply by returning audiobooks over and over again.

Sometimes, customer service even directly encourages you to return an Audible book once you have finished it and get another one! Audible promotes the exchange service everywhere all the time.

So, it’s easy to assume you can just keep using the return policy and get something new for your Audible credit. This is rather misleading!

Because it can make for a really nasty surprise when one day, you get an email from Audible stating that you have “abused the rules” and won’t be able to exchange audiobooks again.

I don’t know about you, but an email like that would definitely freak me out!

The Audible credit system is not a library. When you return Audible books after finishing them, it’s as if you bought a book at your local bookstore, took it home, read it, and then gave it back the next week to get something else.

Somewhere in the smaller print, Audible talks about two exchanges per year. It’s likely that you’ll be able to return more books, either directly on their website or through customer service. But they definitely won’t let you get more than one audiobook for every Audible credit!

How many Audiobooks can you return?
The current Audible return limit is probably something around 2 audiobooks per year. They don’t specifically give a number in the terms of services. But they say that they actively monitor for abuse

If you have had bad luck with low-quality audiobooks, you will likely be able to return more than two books. But shockingly, I have heard from Audible subscribers who said they received an email informing them that the return policy is blocked for them after only one single return!

Of course, I don’t know whether these accounts are entirely true. But I’m mentioning it because I want to warn you that it’s probably not a good idea to make a habit out of returning two or more audiobooks every year just to stretch out the credits, thinking it’s one of the membership perks.

And that brings us to the second issue that you have to be aware of whenever you want to return a book on Audible that you have already listened to…

What happens when you return a book on Audible?

Audible is a giant company and belongs to Amazon. So one could assume that it’s part of their service to you as a customer to exchange books, something they pay for to get an edge over competitors. But they don’t! (… pay for it, that is.)

The exchange is paid for by the audiobook creators!

That seems fair and makes sense when an audiobook is badly produced, and no one can stand listening to it. Or when the story doesn’t actually have the promised length. It protects Audible and us as subscribers from fraudulent publishers.

But when listeners finish a book, enjoy it reasonably much, and then this huge company encourages them to make use of the return policy anyway, you assume the author and narrator would be paid for their work, right? They definitely deserve to be!

Many people thought it was indeed Audible that took the loss for exchanges, paying royalties to the audiobook creators while giving you back your Audible credit. Until a glitch in their royalty statements allowed creators to see how unexpectedly high the return rate actually was and what a huge amount of money they lost.

This led to an outcry among audiobook creators. Don’t forget, audiobooks aren’t only made by big publishers like Penguin RandomHouse, but also by many small publishing houses and self-published authors who pay for audiobook creation out of their own pocket!

Related article: Why are Audiobooks so Expensive?

So, what Audible offers you as a seemingly gracious service actually didn’t cost Audible a dime! They simply didn’t pay royalties to the audiobook creators, many of whom are small businesses or just one person trying to share their creative work with us.

Creating an audiobook costs thousands of dollars, and if they don’t make that back, authors likely won’t turn more of their books into audio, which hurts us as listeners, too.

As a result of this outcry, Audible has adjusted its rules and now pays royalties for returned titles if they are returned later than 7 days after the original purchase. That’s definitely a win for indie publishers!

And in a second step, they stopped offering returns for Audible books purchased with money, e.g., Whispersync deals. Many small audio publishers and self-published authors offer their audiobooks in a cheap Whispersync deal for $7.49 when you buy the audio together with the ebook or after borrowing the ebook through Kindle Unlimited.

In that light, this decision by Audible also benefits smaller audiobook creators.

But it’s still really important that you, as an Audible customer, are aware of the bigger picture and know under which conditions authors and narrators are paid for the audiobook you listen to!

How to Return a Book on Audible

Now, let’s get to the technical part: How to return an Audible book…

Please be aware that you can’t do returns in the mobile app. You either have to use a browser on your phone or computer to return an audiobook yourself, or you can contact customer support to help you.

For a feature Audible promotes so much, they have burrowed it surprisingly deep in the settings. But you can get there in 3 clicks – even though they aren’t the most intuitive ones.

Returning Audible Books in a Desktop Browser

First, you go to your Audible Account Details in the upper right corner. Click on your name to get to the dropdown menu. Account Details will be the first item in the menu that opens up.

Returning an Audible book: Audible Account Details
On the new page, you will see a menu on the left-hand side with your Membership details. Tap Purchase History.
How to return an Audible book: Audible Purchase History
Now you will see all the Audible books you have previously purchased. Those that are eligible for return will have a button next to them. Tap return and choose your reason for exchanging that title. And that’s it!
Audible Returns: Exchanging an audiobook
(This screenshot is only for the guide, I would never return The Duke Who Didn’t!)

Returning an Audible book on Mobile

In the past, Audible books used to stay in your library after returning them, but this has been fixed. Once you exchange an audiobook, you will get your refund, and the book will disappear from your app.

Why can’t I return my Audible book?

You can only exchange Audible books that you have purchased with a credit. If you have bought the book with money, e.g., during a sales event or in a deal, you can’t return it.

Or maybe the book you are trying to return is from the Plus catalog. Then it’s not necessary to do anything because you only borrowed it and it is included in your monthly fee for free.

So, books are only eligible for returns if they were purchased with an Audible credit in the last 365 days!

It’s perfectly fair and understandable to exchange books you don’t like and can’t finish or that you can’t listen to because of technical issues. Or because you find out that your audiobook is read by A.I. and not narrated by a real voice actor.

But please consider carefully which titles really deserve to be refunded. Remember, it’s not always Audible that takes the loss!

What to do with finished Audible books?

If you borrowed a book through Audible Plus, you can either just leave it in your library or click on the 3 dots next to the title and tap “Remove from library”.

If you bought the audiobook for an Audible credit or money, it’s yours to keep, and you can just leave it in your library to maybe listen to it again in the future.

To save space on your phone, you can remove the audio file by clicking “Remove from device”.

How to Get Audiobooks Cheaper

If you’ve “re-used” Audible credits before because audiobooks are so expensive, I want to point you to better options for more affordable audiobook listening. With these, you can listen to as many audiobooks as you want – legally – while authors and narrators are paid fairly.

One option is signing up for an unlimited audiobook subscription like Audible’s own Audible Plus (this is actually free for you if you are already an Audible Premium Plus subscriber), Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, which includes thousands of audiobooks, services like Everand, or digital library apps like Hoopla that you can use with your local library card.

Another option is to buy cheap audiobooks that cost significantly less than an Audible credit, like Amazon’s Whispersync deals or Chirp audiobooks.

If you listen to an Audible Plus audiobook, it’s perfectly fine to return it after listening! Any book you can simply listen to without having to spend money or an Audible credit is already included in your monthly Audible fee.

So, make sure you check out all the fantastic Audible Originals and save your Audible credit for special books you really want to keep!

Happy listening, and may all the audiobooks you buy not suck 😉

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10 thoughts on “What You Need to Know Before You Return an Audible Book in 2024”

  1. Thanks for talking about the issues with returning books from a small publisher’s perspective! I was only made aware of that quite recently, and it seemed unbelievable that Audible was treating its audiobook creators so poorly. Good to know there’s at least something in place for them now!

    1. Yeah, for a long time I thought that this was simply a loss Audible/Amazon took. Just like when you return an item to Amazon and you know they’ll just put it in the trash. It’s really nasty that such a huge company put all of this on the indie authors. First, they entice them to publish exclusively through ACX/Audible, and then they offer their subscribers a service like this on the back of the same indie authors. I found this honestly shocking!
      On top of that, returned Audible books used to stay in your library, making the decision to return another book all the much easier since you could listen to it again regardless. Fortunately, they’ve fixed that too now. When you give it back, it is indeed gone!

      1. Actually, when you return something from Amazon, the seller loses money also. Like the whole amount of the product (it might depend somewhat what the product is), but that was our experience. Amazon is SO corrupt!

    2. now they are rip[ping off customers as well, they banned customers for abusive level of returns. In one case an hearing impaired autistic who loved redial bought the whole series at once and couldn’t hear the dramatized recording and they banned him even though he bought a defective book and a book by accident and keep stonewalling him with the same banned notice over and over and even when he doesn’t ask about returns, they remind him anyways.

  2. this was quite the informative read. I had no idea that authors and narrators lost money when a book was returned on Audible. I have only ever returned a book once on Audible and it’s because there was an issue with the actual file, so they had me return it but then provided me with a new download, so I hope that author and narrator still got paid for that one.

    1. Just to say it again, I don’t think anyone should feel bad for using the Audible returns policy fairly! It makes so many listeners more willing to take chances on a new-to-them narrator or author. And it’s a good protection against low quality publishers who try to game the system. That being said, some indie authors have actually had to *pay* Audible money because of weird tax things. It’s really awful and I can’t believe people have turned it into a TikTok trend to finish books and then return them. It’s fair to call that specific behavior theft.

  3. I’m glad Audible allows returns. I bought a book that looked interesting, but about 20 minutes into it I realized I was not going to enjoy it. I immediately returned it for a credit.

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