Google has finally added audio books as a separate category on the Google Play Store, in India. This means users can now download and listen to them on the Play Books app or by asking the Google Assistant to read it for them. Audio books on Play Store will be available in nine languages in 45 countries, including India, from today onwards.
Users can listen to audio books from Google on any device, which supports Google Assistant by saying “Ok Google, read my book” loud. This means one can listen to an audio book on not just their smartphones and PC, but also on Apple iPhones, Android Wear watches, Google Home speaker, Chromecast and Android-auto enabled cars.
Google Home is still not available to users in India, and Android Auto and Chromecast have a limited user base, which leaves smartphones and PCs to be the most used options.
Unlike rival service Scribd, which charges a monthly subscription of Rs699 and then provides access to a limited number of audio books of their choice every month, Google Play Store provides users the option to buy a single audiobook, just like the ebooks. Users can also get a free preview of the audio book they want to buy.
Amazon’s audio book service Audible, which works with both smartphones and Kindle readers, provides users with both options—to buy every book separately or pay a subscription fee of Rs1,000 and access a specific number of audiobooks without any additional cost.
Buying an audio book will not provide free access to ebooks which will have to be purchased separately. Google is offering discounts of up to 50% on the first set of audio books. Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, Dan Brown’s Inferno, Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics For People In A Hurry and Chetan Bhagat’s One Night At The Call Center are some of the audio books which will be available initially.
The involvement with Google Assistant brings in some smart features such as the option to set a timer for bedtime reading, so the audio book will only be played for a specific time. Users can pick up the audio book where they had left off on another device at night, for instance, and pick it up from that place in their car using Android Auto next morning.livemint