Audiobooks – facts, tips, and comparisons in one handy list

Everything you wanted to know about audiobooks in one place: facts, tips, comparisons, things to know

Are you interested in exploring audiobooks? Make sure to read these tips and facts that will help you decide where and how to get them.

More and more platforms start offering audiobooks, as more and more users want to try an alternative way to follow their favorite stories.

Audiobooks are fun. They are perfect driver companions. They make every long trip much shorter – and much more entertaining. They let you enjoy the story together with other members of your family or friends.

Most importantly, audiobooks allow you to follow the plot when you wouldn’t be able to read. For instance, if you are cooking dinner or jogging in the morning. Or if you are on a long trip – and you are a driver.

Narrator’s voice helps better imagine characters, interactions, and places in the book. The voice can create an addictive and memorable mood – something you would love to come back to over and over again.

For people who better learn from what they hear that read, audiobooks are a natural learning tool. Others, who get easily distracted when reading a book, can be surprised to discover that an audiobook keeps them focused for long hours!

In the list below, you will find major facts about audiobooks, accompanied by tips and useful links. This guide will be helpful for anyone who wants to give a try to audiobooks and is ready to spend some time to find tips and answers to most essential questions.

What’s the best tip for audiobook newbies? If you own an iOS or Android phone, make sure to download one of the free audiobook apps, and start listening to your first audiobook in a matter of seconds!

8 popular audiobook bestseller lists to follow

Read also 8 popular audiobook bestseller lists to follow

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Explore the most popular audiobook bestseller lists: the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Audible, Google Play, Scribd, Nook, and Kobo.

Audiobooks – facts and tips

Audiobooks are more expensive than ebooks

People who started buying ebooks are used to prices that are lower – sometimes considerably lower – than print editions. What’s more, there are several deals on ebooks, which enable users to get favorite titles at prices cut to a range between $0.99 and $2.99.

Users expect audiobooks to work the same way. Audiobooks are also books in a digital format, so there is no cost of printing, right?

Yes, but there is another cost-generating factor. It’s narration.

An average novel contains 80,000 words. It translates to about 9-10 hours of narration. The cost per finished hour ranges between $100 and $500. So, the cost of producing an audiobook of a 100,000-word novel narrated by a recognized voice can easily exceed $5,000.

It’s no surprise that an audiobook version of a book title costs much more than its ebook edition. In most cases, it’s also more expensive than a paperback or even hardcover.

In the table below, we’ve compared prices of a few popular books from the list of Amazon’s top 100 book bestsellers.

Price comparison: audiobooks vs. ebooks vs. print books

Data collected on June 7, 2018
Title and author Kindle Paperback Audiobook
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng $4.99 $19.72 $20.65
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood $9.99 $10.50 $23.44
The Outsider by Stephen King $14.99 $18.00 $26.64
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey $4.99 $21.31 $28.30
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson $14.99 $12.99 $23.95
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling $9.99 $8.49 $29.99
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) by George R. R. Martin $5.99 $10.48 $28.77
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho $9.99 $9.33 $23.95
Artemis by Andy Weir $15.99 $16.00 $29.95
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders $10.99 $10.20 $24.50
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie $0.99 $9.60 $29.46

The usual price of an audiobook edition is between $20 and $30. It’s twice as much as the cost of a Kindle or paperback edition. Both formats are usually priced below $20.

Don’t expect deep deals on audiobooks

As you’ve seen in the table above, regular prices of Kindle editions of popular books usually cost between $4.99 and $15.99.

Most Kindle users, however, have learned how to get their favorite books via Kindle deals. Featured in Kindle Daily Deals, monthly lists of discounted Kindle books or limited-time offers for hot shopping seasons (such as Prime Day or Cyber Monday), some Kindle bestsellers can be grabbed for prices cut to $3.99 or below.

Frequent price cuts are not a part of the audiobook world. Sure, Audible and other audiobook platforms offer daily deals similar to Kindle Daily Deal or Nook Daily Find. However, massive audiobook deals are not offered that often and are usually not that deep as the ones on ebooks.

The biggest one we’ve observed so far was Audible’s response to launch of audiobooks in Google Play Store. Prices of almost 200 Audible books were cut to $0.99 – $3.95.

If you are determined to hunt for discounted audiobooks, make sure to check out deal sections in popular audiobook stores:

  • Audible Sales & Deals – the page showcases current daily deal, free listens, and great audiobooks under $7 or $15. Plus, you can find here information about deals on Audible subscription plans,
  • Kobo Audiobook deals – you can find here not only one or two featured books (priced between $2.99 and $4.99), but also discounted or cheap audiobooks in popular genres, such as romance, thrillers, or fantasy,
  • Google Play Audiobooks – the store doesn’t offer daily deals yet, but you can check out currently free audiobooks (don’t get too excited, there are only few titles here),
  • Daily Find on Nook Audiobooks – scroll down the front page of Barnes & Noble’s audiobook store, and you will find the current daily deal,
  • Deals on Audiobooks.com – the platform offers their members weekly deals on audiobooks in popular categories. Members can also vote for the deal they would like to see.

Audiobooks take more space than ebooks

When buying a tablet or smartphone, people are interested in its memory space if they are planning to play or record a lot of videos.

Audiobooks? They require much less space than video. Many users think audiobooks are just like music. What’s more, audiobook files use typically less space than music for the same duration.

A music album that consists of ten songs should take around 40-50 MB of space. This space should accommodate one, two, or even more audiobooks, right?

Not quite. The reason is simple. Audiobooks are extremely long. An average length of an audiobook is 10 hours.

Each hour of Audible audiobook requires approximately 28-30 MB of space when you download it in high quality. For the standard quality, it’s 14-15 MB per hour.

Let’s have a look at an example.

Example

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a medium-size novel that has 320 pages (approximately 90,000 words). Its Kindle edition takes 3 MB.

Listening length of an Audible version of The Handmaid’s Tale is 10 hours and 26 minutes. Assuming that we choose standard quality, it is approximately 150 MB.

In other words, one audiobook takes space of a few music albums, not the other way round.

How many audiobooks can fit into a Kindle e-reader?

As you know, Kindle e-readers can play audiobooks again. It’s done via headphones or speakers connected via Bluetooth.

Many users plan to fill their new Kindles with hundreds of books. Who knows which one would I like to pick up during my summer holidays?

While Kindle’s limited internal memory (compared to a tablet) is not a problem when you download ebook files, it brings a big question mark the moment you start thinking about Audible audiobooks.

Let’s make a comparison, based on the above-mentioned calculation for The Handmaid’s Tale. File sizes are:

  • Kindle edition – 3 MB
  • Audible edition – 150 MB

8th-generation Kindle or Kindle Paperwhite have 4 GB of internal memory, out of which 3 GB are available for the user. Therefore, these devices will fit approximately:

  • 1,000 Kindle ebooks
  • 20 Audible audiobooks

2nd-generation Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s first e-reader to support audiobooks, after a long break since the 2011 Kindle Touch.

The Oasis comes in two storage versions: 8 GB or 32 GB. The latter one, after you take out system files, has approximately 27 GB of internal memory for the user.

If you pick up the bigger storage, you will be able to keep on your Oasis:

  • 9,000 Kindle ebooks
  • 180 Audible audiobooks

If you have discovered that audiobooks are your thing, and would like to keep on your device as many of them as possible, consider getting a Fire tablet.

Each Amazon Fire model comes with a microSD card slot. Thanks to that, you will be able to extend memory by up to 256 GB. It means over 17,000 hours of listening!

There are many ways to listen to audiobooks

The times when the primary way to listen to audiobooks was a CD player are over.

Now, audiobooks, just like ebooks or music, can be downloaded and listened to on most devices: tablets, smartphones, or e-readers.

In most cases, the only thing to do is to download to your device a relevant audiobook application. We list the best ones for iOS and Android at the end of this section.

It seems that one smart home gadget is more suitable for playing audiobooks than any other device. It’s a smart speaker.

Several models are available on the market, naming only Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod. Why are they better audiobook players than tablets or phones? Because you can start an audiobook with just your voice.

Just imagine. You’re coming back home, and the first thing you say is “Alexa, resume my audiobook.”

Top audiobook apps for iPad and iPhone

  1. Audible
  2. Libby
  3. Audio Books
  4. LibriVox Audio Books
  5. Google Play Books
  6. Kobo

Audiobooks can be purchased or subscribed

As we’ve already discussed, audiobooks are more (sometimes much more) expensive than ebooks and print books. When seeing a price set between $20 and $30, you’ll think twice before hitting the “Buy” button.

Fortunately, audiobooks can be bought not only the traditional way (paying separately for each one) but also in a subscription model.

For instance, in an Audible membership program, you can get one credit per month for a free audiobook regardless of its price. Plus you can save up to 30% in exclusive member audiobook deals.

After you sign up for Audible subscription, you get two free audiobooks for a good start. After 30 days of free trial, you will pay $14.95 per month. It roughly equals half of the price of a bestselling audiobook.

Audiobook subscriptions

  • Audible – $14.95/month after 30-day trial,
  • Kobo – $9.99/month after 30-day trial,
  • Audiobooks.com – $14.95/month after 30-day trial.

There is another – and in my opinion much better way – to get access to interesting audiobooks. I’m talking about subscription services that give access to different benefits – and one of them is an ability to listen to audiobooks.

Multi-benefit subscriptions that include audiobooks

  • Amazon Prime – this powerful $12.99/month subscription platform includes two interesting services. Audible Channels gives access to original audio editions of standout articles and news from top sources. Prime Reading lets you access a rotating list of Kindle books with Audible narration,
  • Scribd – a subscription-based platform dedicated to digital reading. For a monthly fee of $8.99 you will get an unlimited access to digital books, newspapers & magazines, documents, and audiobooks,
  • Kindle Unlimited – Amazon’s popular digital subscription, besides about 1.5 million Kindle books and magazines, gives also access to over 20,000 Audible narrations that you can seamlessly play in your ebooks.

Choose the audiobook platform wisely

Have you ever tried to switch the ebook platform? Decided to move all your Kobo books to Kindle ecosystem or the other way round?

If yes, be prepared for similar pain when it comes to audiobooks.

The reason is that different audiobook platforms use DRM (Digital Rights Management) systems to prevent bought files from the unauthorized distribution.

It means that most probably the audiobook you download from one platform can be only opened using apps and devices authorized by this platform.

Example

When you buy an audiobook on Audible, you can open it with an Audible iPhone app or an Audible app for Amazon Fire tablet. If you try to open it with Google Play Books app on your Android tablet, you won’t succeed.

Therefore, it’s essential to spend some time to check out and compare audiobook stores, pick up a few best ones, and compare them in detail.

Here are some suggestions:

  • check out how many of the books from your wishlist are available as audiobooks,
  • compare prices of your favorite books,
  • find out what are the ways to access your bought audiobooks,
  • compare audiobook apps available for the device you plan to use as an audiobook player,
  • check out conditions and features each platform offers (deals, subscriptions, coupons, etc.)

You can switch between reading an ebook and playing and audiobooks

The last thing shows how tremendous are the possibilities of books that are converted to a digital format.

Have you heard of Whispersync for Voice? It’s a technology developed by Amazon, which lets Kindle users add audiobook companions to their Kindle books, and enjoy following the story either by reading or listening to it.

How does it work? Imagine you start reading a book in the evening on your iPad, using a Kindle app.

When you wake up in the morning and go out jogging, you can use the Kindle app on your iPhone – but this time switch the mode to audiobook playing. The narration will start precisely at the location you stopped at last night. Cool, huh?

Audiobook narration is an option available for over 60,000 Kindle titles. It’s not the same as the audiobook bought in the Audible store, although powered by Audible.

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