Google enters the audiobook market as rivalry with Amazon heats up
With a library of over 375,000 titles, Amazon Audible has long-dominated the audio book market. Now Google want a slice of the action. Google have announced the rollout of Google Play Audiobooks across 45 countries and 9 languages.
Unlike Audible, Google Play's audiobooks are not subscription based. The service offers one-off purchases of titles and the ability to preview books beforehand.
Google Play Books are available on Android, iOS and the web, as well as devices such as Google Assistant and Google Home.
The rise of smart speakers means Google has paid particular attention to how voice interfaces can enhance the audiobook experience. Greg Hartrell, head of product management at Google Play Books explains: "Just say “Ok Google, read my book” to listen to your favourite audiobook hands free with the Google Assistant on your phone or speaker, like Google Home. Try “Ok Google, who is the author?” if you need a refresher, or “Ok Google, stop playing in 20 minutes” to set a timer for bedtime reading".
Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in the digital publishing industry. The Audiobook Publishers Association reported a 33.9% increase in the number of audiobooks published in 2017 compared to the previous year and estimates that 26% of the US population has listened to an audiobook in the last 12 months.