×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Google Takes on Audible With New Audiobook Offering

Google is getting into the audiobook business: The company launched a new  audiobook store as part of its Google Play Books service Tuesday, promising competitive prices with a pay-as-you-go model. “You can listen to as many or as few as you want without a subscription,” said Google Play Books head of product management Greg Hartrell.

The company is marketing the new service with a sale on popular audiobook titles including “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” by J.K. Rowling, Fire & Fury by Michaelk Wolff and “1984” by George Orwell. Audiobooks are available in 9 languages across 45 countries.

Consumers will be able to buy audiobooks within the Google Play Books apps for Android as well as on the web, and also play them on iPads and iPhones, Google Home speakers, Chromecast streaming adapters and compatible devices. “You just pick up where you left off, no matter which device you are using,” said Hartrell.

Android devices are getting offline playback of books at launch, and Google has also integrated the service with its assistant. This means that consumers will be able to say things like “Okay Google, read my book” — and their phone or Google Home speaker will start playing back the requested title. Hartrell said that Google is using artificial intelligence to make sense of a book’s table of contents and automatically give chapters the right headlines.

With audio books, Google is entering a space that has long been dominated by Audible. The Amazon-owned service has been selling audiobooks online since the mid-nineties online, and has also been Apple’s primary audiobook partner since 2003. In addition to single titles, Audible has also been running a popular subscription service for audiobooks.

One frequent point of criticism of Audible has long been its use of digital rights management (DRM) technology that makes it impossible to play Audible files on some devices. Hartrell sidestepped questions about the file formats Google is going to use for its audiobook offering during an interview with Variety, but said the company was looking into make the service available on MP3 players and other legacy devices at some point down the line.

More Digital

  • Google Stadia is a Net Neutrality

    Google Stadia is a Net Neutrality Nightmare

    At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) this year, Google announced that it has taken up the long and ever-lengthening dream of the video game streaming service. Meant to replace the hefty, pricey, altogether confounding experience of buying and using various gaming hardware, Google Stadia will run video games on Google’s own hardware in a server [...]

  • crunchyroll logo

    Crunchyroll Raises Subscription Price to $7.99

    AT&T-owned anime subscription video service Crunchyroll is raising its monthly subscription price from $6.95 to $7.99 a month, it announced in an email to members Friday. It’s the service’s first price increase ever, according to a spokesperson. The new pricing will go into effect on May 1 for new subscribers, while existing members will see [...]

  • StyleHaul

    StyleHaul Shuts Down U.S. Operations, Lays Off About 65 Employees

    The axe is falling on StyleHaul: The fashion, beauty and lifestyle digital media and marketing company owned by RTL Group is shuttering U.S. operations, resulting the layoff of around 65 employees. StyleHaul offices in L.A., with about 55 employees, and in New York City, with around 10 staffers, are closing. RTL said StyleHaul’s U.K. operations, [...]

  • Bandsintown Platform Acquires Hypebot, MusicThinkTank

    Bandsintown Platform Acquires Hypebot, MusicThinkTank

    Bandsintown, a leading platform for letting music fans know about upcoming concerts by their favorite artists, has acquired Hypebot, a news site publishing stories about the music industry and technology, and its sister site MusicThinkTank. “I’m proud to share that Hypebot and MusicThinkTank have been acquired by Bandsintown,” wrote Bruce Houghton, the founder of the [...]

  • Vertigo Games Believes ‘Location-Based Virtual Reality’

    Vertigo Games Believes ‘Location-Based Virtual Reality’ Is Future of VR

    As virtual reality becomes more and more available, many developers are looking for new frontiers to expand the experiences offered by the tech. For Netherlands-based Vertigo Games, that next frontier is what they call “location-based virtual reality.” It’s essentially high-quality VR experiences where players aren’t tethered to a PC or even to the confines of [...]

  • GDC 2019: Google's Play For Gaming

    GDC 2019: Google's Play for Gaming Ubiquity, Rise of Ray Tracing, Store Wars

    The Game Developers Conference finished up Friday evening, wrapping one of the most exciting GDCs in recent memory with Google’s splashy entrance into AAA video gaming, the emergence of real-time ray tracing as a compelling technology for film, TV, and games, and the growing war between two global estore powerhouses: Valve’s Steam and the Epic [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content