For anyone who is even slightly interested in ereading and audiobooks will know that most companies stick to one or the other. You will have the odd pairing like Kindle and Audible who work together (through their parent company Amazon) but it’s usually one or the other. Well, that has now changed: Kobo has entered the audiobook game! This may not be a big deal to those who aren’t particularly invested in the arena of electronic books but I can assure you that this is huge news. I actually screamed when I saw the post in line at Tim Hortons- the screaming hasn’t stopped yet. So, here is the breakdown and what we know so far:
Prices and plans vary by your country. I am obviously on the Canadian plan, and that gets me one credit for $12.99/ month. One credit gets you one audiobook, meaning that it’s $13 CAD for one audiobook. People have been complaining in the comments on Kobo’s Facebook posts, but they are incredibly out of touch with the cost of audiobooks. Typically, an audiobook on it’s own (in CD format or digital) will hit you somewhere between $30 and $70 CAD- anything less than that is a fantastic steal. In the US, the same plan is $9.99/ month, and in the UK, you can purchase a three book pass for £19.99. The Kobo site does state that they are planning to expand to a two book pass for $23.99/ month, also! If you aren’t interested in subscribing to the plan (or want to buy additional books), you can simply buy the audiobook for full price on the site.
How to Listen
The two common apps, aside from Audible, are Overdrive and Hoopla; both are used by the majority of public libraries for borrowing audiobooks. All of your listening with Kobo is done through the Kobo app! As someone who listens to audiobooks daily through both the Overdrive and Hoopla apps, I have to say that the Kobo audiobook interface is easy and intuitive to use. You download the audiobook to your phone or tablet, tap on the book, and away you go. Should you want to move around within the book, you can navigate through chapters and by “fast forwarding” and “rewinding”. (The skipping by chapters is a huge improvement on Hoopla.) It offers a huge range in listening speeds, from 0.6x to 3.0x. Most regular audiobook listeners will speed their books up to 1.5-2.0x to make the most of it, and come closer to a regular speech speed. Overall, a very pleasant and easy process!
Because the audiobook store only opened earlier this week, it doesn’t have the breadth that Audible does. However, it does have far more variety than most libraries, and more and more books are being added daily. The only books that I’ve looked for and not found thus far are some obscure history titles and some chick lit that is published by a tiny publisher. If you are looking for mainstream books, I would say that nine out of ten books are already in the store!
In addition to simply having a wider library, I am curious to see if Kobo treats audiobooks in the same manner that they treat ebooks- as Daily Deals and pre-orders. Kobo already has a points system where you earn 10 points for every dollar spent, 20 if you are a VIP member, and oftentimes there are even bonus points; you can already use the points to purchase available audiobooks! Because you can buy audiobooks without actually subscribing, offering audiobooks at a cheaper price as a Daily Deal is a great way to entice people to try it out and use this service without having to shell out $30. I am also very curious to see if they will offer ebook and audiobook bundles, giving you both items for a discounted price. I’m assuming that Kobo has already thought of all of these things and we are just waiting for more info, but who knows right now?
Within the United States, Kindle and Audible are king in the ebook and audiobook game, respectively. However, venture further and you will find that market is much more divided in other countries. Kobo is fairly late to the audiobook game, but it appears that they were doing so to perfect their product- a wise choice in a competitive market. If you sign up, you receive the first month (audiobook) for free, and can cancel your membership at any time! I already love my Kobo membership, and this only increases it’s versatility.
I’ve signed up for my free month, and intend to keep it for at least one paid month (probably two) to get a feeling for the system as a whole! I plan on doing an update post sometime in late October, early November to hopefully give you more detailed feedback. To this book-of-any-kind nerd, this is a huge development and certainly a fantastic surprise! If you need something to try out on Kobo, I would recommend one of my top 5 audiobooks to get started.
Are you an audiobook reader? What’s your favourite?