Google Play Store features new audiobook section and integrates them with Home smart speaker.
Google has recently announced that it will now sell audiobooks to its customers, opening up the doors of competition against Amazon’s widely popular Audible. The move will mean that the Google Play Store will host a book section, and that titles can be heard through the Assistant or Google Play Books app at this time, with support for in-car listening coming in the near future.
So far, the biggest difference is that Google titles are purchased outright, as opposed to signing up for a subscription through Audible. Anyone who simply wants a stand-alone listen or doesn’t want to be tied to a monthly charge will enjoy the system. However, for die-hard fans of audiobooks, their high cost can still mean that a subscription is the better value as opposed to purchasing titles.
Of course, probably due to the recent launch, Google is also wiping the floor with Amazon when it comes to pricing bestsellers. A number of top-ranked books are available for a fraction of their regular costs right now, although it remains to be seen how long that will last.
Right now, one area where Amazon still seems to be leaps and bounds ahead of Google is in allowing self-published audiobooks in the Audible and Amazon marketplaces. There is a significant cost involved in producing a quality audiobook, but once the author has invested in it, they can sell their titles as seamlessly as an ebook author can. There’s no word on the ability to sell your own audiobook file through the Google Play Books Partner Center yet.
The biggest downside Google may face with the audiobook venture is in the company’s unfortunate history of selling unvetted, harmful content through Google Play. While audiobooks are obviously an entirely different entity than a malicious app, Google has shown that its “all are welcome here” approach to their marketplace has come back to haunt them greatly. Unless there is serious vetting of files, it’s possible something could slip through that installs malicious software on the Google Home device, the user’s phone, or even their car’s computer.