With the current digital book explosion, audiobooks are rising in popularity. And they are not just attracting the visually-impaired – many people are finding them incredibly convenient to use even if they are not living with a disability.
Audiobooks ups the convenience factor; they allow you to listen to a book while concentrating on other tasks. However, while these technological marvels may be convenient, they are also expensive – choosing the right platform to access them is essential to cut costs.
Amazon’s Audible ruled the roost until 2018 when Google Play Audiobooks came along. These two digital audiobook services don’t come cheap, so we attempt, in this review, to compare Amazon’s Audible and Google’s Audiobooks to help you to decide which one’s worth giving a try.
Amazon runs Audible as its premier audiobook subscription company. The service launched in 1995 and was the first to introduce portable audio players that support audiobooks. Today, this platform has an impressive library of audiobooks.
It is currently the largest audiobooks seller in the world. You can access books in all genres from Fiction, Arts and Entertainment, and History, to Bios and Memoirs, Mysteries and Thrillers, and the Classics. You can also find TV and Radio programs, as well as audio magazines and newspapers on Audible.
Audible charges a monthly fee and gives its users credits in return. One credit gets you one book, independent of the book’s price.
It has three subscription plans – Platinum, Gold, and Audible Channel plan available monthly or annually.
You can also purchase books outright through Amazon’s Audible with a 30% discount.
Other notable features include:
• Audible Household Service – lets users within a group share audiobooks
• Listen to a book preview before you decide to buy
• Set the timer to stop audio-reading after a specified time
• Increase the reading speed to your preference
Our full review on Audible here.
Google Play Audiobooks
In 2018, Google Play added an extra feature on its Play Store that enabled users to purchase and listen to audiobooks. Audiobooks was an attempt by Google to provide more voice-based content on the platform as a counter Amazon’s Audible, which is the current market leader.
Listening to audiobooks is simple on this platform – buy your book and listen to it, just that. As Google is trying to attract membership at the moment, a lot of the books come with exclusive, hard-to-beat discounts. Google is also offering 50% off the purchase price of the first audiobook you buy, and once you buy the book, you get lifetime access to it. These prices are introductory, though, so we’re not sure how long they’ll be available.
You may listen to books using the Google PlayBook app or the Google Assistant. You may also switch back and forth between the Google Assistant and Google Play Books app as syncing of your reading progress is automatic. Other notable features include:
• Family Library – lets users within a group share audiobooks
• Listen to a book preview before you buy
• Set the timer to shut down reading after a specified time (great for bedtime ‘reading’)
• Increase the reading speed to your liking
Price and plans are the first considerations when choosing an audiobook provider, as these babies don’t come cheap. Audible and Audiobooks use different pricing strategies, and this is what primarily sets them apart.
Audible uses a membership subscription approach. Subscribers can choose a monthly or annual plan and pay a fee in exchange for credits. One credit equals one audiobook. This provider offers three subscription plans:
• Audible Channels
The Gold Plan goes for $14.95 per month and offers one credit per month, while the Platinum Plan is $22.95 per month, which equals two credits. Audible Channels costs $4.95 but does not offer any credits.
Audible also offers a 30-day free trial period to allow users to test out the platform. You’ll need to give your credit card details on sign-up.
All plans allow subscribers to purchase audiobooks at a discount of 30%. Also, users can rollover unused credits to the next month or year according to their subscription plan.
Here’s the breakdown:
|Subscription Plan||Cost/Month||Credits/Month||Rollover Limits|
Google Play Audiobooks do not have subscription plans. They allow you to buy a book when you need it, offering lifetime access to the product.
In this regard, Amazon Audible provides better value for money than Google Play Audiobooks for regular or high-volume users.
The heart of a book store, regardless of whether it is physical or digital, is its collections. A provider with a vast book collection gives you the freedom to explore the offerings and pick your favorite books. Audible offers over 400,000 audiobook titles from different genres.
On the contrary, Google Play Audiobooks does not disclose how extensive its book collection is. They only state that they have a selection of best sellers without giving an exact number.
Audible is compatible with many devices. It works well with Android and iOS devices, Sandisk MP3 players, Kindle Fire Tablets, Windows Phone, Windows, and Apple Mac computers, among others.
Also, it integrates with Amazon Alexa enabling you to listen to audiobooks using Amazon Echo speakers. Besides, Audible features Whispersync, which allows you to switch between an audiobook and an e-book. So, as long as your book is available, you can read or listen to it anytime, anywhere.
Google Audiobook is also compatible with both Android and iOS devices. It works with Chromecast, Google Home smart speakers, Android wearable devices, web, and other devices that are compatible and support Google Assistant.
You’ve got the opportunity to listen to your favorite audiobooks on your phone, in the car, or at the office using multiple devices.
Both platforms are relatively easy to use, given that they are accessible and compatible with many smart devices. Both Audible and Audiobooks allow users to increase their reading speeds, listen to a preview, and set a timer for a particular reading session to end.
Also, they give you the chance to share audiobooks with family through the Amazon Household service on Audible and Family Library on Google Audiobook. Notably, the audiobooks you purchase are accessible to you forever on the two audiobook providers.
Audible is a US-based company, but it supports different languages. These include English, Italian, Spanish, German, French, and Chinese. It is only available in the United States. However, you can break geo-restrictions and access the platform using a VPN service.
On the other hand, Google Play Audiobooks is available in over forty countries and nine languages. This aspect makes it more accessible to a myriad of users across the globe.
Google Audiobooks do not have a Return Policy. Once you buy a book, you cannot return it. Even if you purchased the wrong book, you do not have the option of requesting a refund. Google Play operates an all-sales-are-final policy, which inhibits refunds once you have used the product.
However, you can request for a refund, but only if you have not yet listened to the audiobook.
In contrast, Audible books comes with a Return Policy. This Amazon platform offers a 12-month Great Listen Guarantee. If you do not like the quality of the audiobook that you purchased, you can return or exchange it within the past one year after purchasing it. However, there are limitations on the number of online returns that you are entitled to for the period.
If you return an unreasonable amount of audiobooks, Audibles can revoke your book-returning privileges, and you can no longer return books using the quick and easy online tool. A “Not Eligible for Return” warning comes up to inform you of this status.
However, if you cancel your membership, you may not be able to return the audiobook, but you’ll still be able to access and listen to any audiobooks that you’ve purchased. Audible allows you to do this, even though you’re no longer an active member.
Bottom Line: Which Should You Choose?
Both Audible and Audiobooks offer their users an option to listen to their favorite books. These two providers of audiobook services also support numerous smart devices and operating systems.
When considering whether to sign up to Audible or Audiobooks, Audible trumps Audiobooks when it comes to the library and price. The platform is also cost-efficient, user-friendly, offers WisperSync, and offers high-quality audiobook titles compared to Audiobooks.
As a new entrant to the market, Google Play does provide a decent alternative. Take advantage of their low promotional rates and enjoy lower prices, especially if you’re not a heavy user. If you love books, however, and will be listening to a vast number of books in a month, we recommend that you stick to Audible over Audiobooks.