Ever since Google ditched Android Market in 2012 and brought all its digital media content into a single marketplace, Google Play has emerged as the go-to place for apps, movies, TV shows, magazines, music, games, and books.
Google Play Books group product manager Greg Hartrell said the company's latest addition was created to let readers tune into their favourite stories "throughout their day" using whatever technology was nearest. For markets where Google now offers Family Library, the users will be able to share their purchased audiobooks with other family members for free.
Audible lets you purchase spoken content without a subscription too, but pushes its membership plans.
Google's audiobook rollout has been a long time coming, and it will be interesting to see if it can capture mindshare from more established incumbents, such as the mighty Amazon.
Smart speakers are well known for their timers, and Google Play audiobooks takes full advantage of this, allowing you to set a countdown timer for when to stop reading, so if you want to delegate the reading of your child's bedtime story to your Google Home, you can. Find your next great read at an affordable price, and enjoy it across Android, iOS and the web with Google Play Books, as well as on devices that include the Google Assistant, like Google Home and many others. Using this integration, you can simply ask the assistant to read you your book and it'll do that. So, if you are into audiobooks, it will be a good time to grab a few for cheap. Amazon and Audible did not respond to requests to comment.
Google launches the service with a handful of big discounts on titles like "Why Not Me?" by Mindy Kaling ($5.99 on Google versus $21 on Audible without a subscription) or "Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders ($8.99 on Google versus $24.50 on Audible without a subscription). You'll have to own both the Kindle and Audible versions of the book to have them speak to one another, resulting in an upgrade fee for the given title. Meanwhile, purchases can be shared through Play's Family Library feature. And people do love listening while in their cars or commuting. Instead of craving for mind by reading those heavy pages, you can now listen to your favorite story with the help of audiobooks.