How-To

How to Buy and Listen to Audiobooks from Google Play

Instead of going with the subscription model, Google is now selling individual audiobooks through its Play Store.

Google this week announced it is providing audiobooks in the Books section of its Play store. But the company is doing things a bit differently than main competitors like the Amazon-owned Audible. Google touts that you can listen to books without a subscription. You will, however, need to purchase each book individually. Here’s a look at how to buy your first book and the different ways you can listen to them, including the Google Home SmartSpeaker.

Audiobooks from Google

Head to the Books section of the play store and if you try it before March, you should see a banner like the one below offering 50% off your first audiobook purchase. Then you can browse through the list of available audiobooks like you would from any online store. You can search by author or title, browse categories, and listen to samples before buying a book.

audiobooks Google play store

Tap the button to purchase the book and it will be added to your Audiobook Library and you can start listening right away. Pull down the notification shade on your phone to control the book playback.

You can listen to you your books directly from a web browser, or devices with Google Assistant like your phone or tablet, Google Home, even Android Wear with connected Bluetooth headphones. You can also listen to them through Chromecast and on iOS with the Google Play Books app.

The benefit of having audiobooks in Google Play is you can listen to them via your Google Home speaker without having to connect another device via Bluetooth. To play the most recent audiobook you’ve listened to, say: “Hey Google, read my book” and you can navigate through it by saying things like “OK Google, next chapter.” If you want to know the author say: “Hey Google, who wrote this?” or find out how much time is left by saying: “Hey Google, how much time is left?” Use basic playback voice commands like you do for music such as, “Hey Google, top/pause/resume.”

While you can listen to your books on different platforms, I’ve found that the syncing process isn’t as seamless as it is with Audible. You can use your devices to change playback speeds, you can’t change speeds with your voice via Google Home. Instead, you would need to cast the book from your device to the speaker.

Whether the non-subscription model will be successful for Google remains to be seen. One of the benefits of an Audible subscription is you get up to two books per month. Also, you can sync the audio with an eBook and you can listen virtually anywhere you have Alexa (including the app) installed. For users, it will depend on your device ecosystem and how many books you listen to.

Are you an audiobook listener and will you be trying out the books from Google Play? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.


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