You can buy audiobooks and put them on the Kindle yes, but without an account the books on audible are rather expensive. No I'm not sure if you can have an account without the subscription through them but that might be an option.
The Kindle uses format 4 (from audible) which is the same that the ipod uses so all the ones I have downloaded from there would work already.
You can have an account without a subscription, but like it was mentioned, books can be expensive. I have a membership where I pay $22.95 a month for 2 credits, which normally equals 2 books. A few books are 2 credits each, but I rarely buy those. You can cancel at any time so it's nothing you're stuck with (unless you use one of their $100 of coupons they put out from time to time to get a free mp3 player)
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