The latest update to Google Play Books on your phone now has support for audiobooks. This means you can plug in your earphones, sit back and listen while books are read out loud to you.
Audiobooks have been around for years of course and Amazon Audible offers over 200,000 books in audio format that you can download and play on your phone or tablet.
It has taken a long time, but Google has just caught up by launching audiobooks as part of Google Play Books. Get the latest app for your Android phone and you can browse books in the store and download and listen to them.
Opening the Play Books Android app and pressing the Shop icon in the bottom right corner opens the store and there are two tabs, EBooks and Audiobooks. It is hard to miss the audiobooks and there is a special offer of 50% off your first book until the end of February.
There are some big discounts at the moment because it is new, so it is a good time to stock up on audiobooks. You can read them anytime, so buy them while they are cheap and save them till later.
Note that Apple does not allow third party stores, so you must buy books by visiting the Google Play Store in a web browser. Purchased books then appear in the iPhone app.
Play audio samples
Just as you can preview an ebook and read the first few pages or even the whole of the first chapter, tapping an audiobook in the store opens its page and there is an option to play a sample. Plug in your earphones and listen for a few minutes to see whether you like the book. There is the usual text description too.
I decided to get the audiobook of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History Of Time, which is a book I have been meaning to read, but never got around to. Now I can listen to it instead.
Add books to your library
Tapping the audiobook price button takes you through purchasing as with a normal ebook. Audiobooks appear in your Play Books library alongside regular ebooks. They have a headphone icon and a Play button instead of a Read button.
Audiobooks have been given their own tab at the top so you can see all of them in one place. The Shelves tab shows books you haven't started, ebooks and audiobooks you can continue, and there is a Finished section down at the bottom.
Listen to audiobooks
Play an audiobook and there are several useful controls. There is a large play/pause button in the middle and either side are buttons to skip forward or back 30 seconds. This is useful if you missed something and want to rewind a little and hear it again.
On the far left is a sleep timer and this enables the app to automatically stop playback after 15, 30 or 60 minutes, or at the end of the current chapter.
At the far right is a speed control and the speech can be slowed down to 0.75 times or speeded up to 2 times in gradual increments. I find 1.10x useful for getting through books a bit quicker.
There is nothing revolutionary here, but competition between different players in the market is good for customers. If you are an Audible user you now have the option to buy books from Google Play Books.
With ebooks I often compare prices where the ebook is available from Amazon and Google, and now you can do the same with audiobooks too. Each company's book catalogue will be slightly different as well, and so the total number of audiobooks just increased in size.
It is all good news for book buyers.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 02 February 2018