Google has officially entered the audiobooks market with Google Play Audiobooks and between you and me, it was only a matter of time. Google is already offering eBooks, music, movies, and apps via Google Play, adding audiobooks was an obvious move.
While Amazon’s smart assistant, Alexa, can read audiobooks via its Echo devices, Google Play Audiobooks can be read by Google Assistant on your phone and Google Home devices.
Amazon Audible vs. Google Play Audiobooks
Audiobooks can be expensive and while they offer a lot of convenience by allowing us to multi-task, it can make a significant dent in your pocket by the end of the year. Let’s compare what both the platforms have to offer in terms of pricing, features, compatibility, collection, and more.
1. Plans and Pricing
The biggest difference between Audible and Google Play Audiobooks is the membership plans, Google has adopted a pay per audiobook plan where you will pay for individual titles. Whereas Audible is known to be a subscription service.
There are 3 different plans on Audible that we have discussed in detail in our Audible Membership Explained guide. In a nutshell, silver plans are priced $14.95 bi-monthly for 1 credit, the Gold plan is priced at $14.95/month for 1 credit, and the Platinum plan is priced at $22.95 for 2 credits. Once you are a member, you can buy any audiobook for 1 credit irrespective of its price. Audible members are also eligible for a 30% discount on all titles. There is an option to buy more credits. Unused credits will automatically be rolled over to the next month for a set period of time which depends on your membership status.
Google has taken a different approach. There are no membership plans; you can buy audiobooks at their shelf price. As of now, Google is running a promotion where most audiobooks are available at half their original price, some even below that. Stephen King’s IT is available for $9.99 while on Audible, it is priced at $37.79. Google also offers a 50% discount on your first audiobook. Though, we don’t know how long these discounts will last.
To give you an idea, I picked up 10 randomly selected audiobook titles to compare prices on the two platforms.
|Audiobooks||Audible Price||Google Play Price|
|The One Thing||$14.95||$24.5||N/A|
|Fire and Fury||$14.95||$19.59||$26.99||$8.99|
|Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them||$14.95||$10.46||$14.95||$5.99|
|Born to Run||$14.95||$34.99||$29.99||$16.95|
|Ready Player One||$14.95||$22||$22.5||$6.99|
Winner – Audible
Audible is cheaper if you are listening to one or more audiobook per month due to its intelligent credit system. The first month is free which is better than 50% discount by Google. This way, you can decide whether audiobooks are for you or not, without spending a dime. The silver plan, which is not mentioned anywhere on the site, is still better than Google Play Audiobooks because you pay $14.99 for 2 months.
Right now, Google Audiobooks is a better alternative for selective titles (that you see on the homepage), mainly because of the heavy promotional discounts, however, once the promotion period ends, prices will be back to normal or near normal depending on what Google has in mind.
Google has not shared any info on the number of audiobooks it has available for listening. Maybe, because they don’t want to get compared with the competition. In Google’s favor, I would say that the service has just been launched when compared to Audible which is already an established leader in the segment.
Audible has over 400,000 audiobook titles to offer with a range of best sellers to choose from. They have been so long in the game, they have become the go-to place for audiobook lovers.
Audible is the clear winner here. I will keep this guide updated as and when Google announces some metrics that will help me compare them better.
3. Return Policy
Audible offers Great Listen Guarantee under which you can return any audiobook purchased in the last 12 months. The process is simple. All you have to do is go to your order history and click on the Return button and if you paid using your free credit, you’ll get the credit back and if you paid for it with your credit card, the amount will roll back to your account. No questions asked.
Google Play Audiobooks has a return policy that clearly states “All sales are final”. You will get a refund only if the audiobook fails to load or run. Not much to write about!
Again, Audible is the clear winner here when it comes to returning policy. I have returned a few books in the past when I didn’t like the narration or found the book uninteresting right from the first chapter. Google play, on the other hand, has no return policy.
4. Country Availability/Compatibility
Google Play audiobooks are available in 9 languages in 45 countries. You can listen to audiobooks on any android powered device and use Google Assistant, Google’s Home device, and pretty soon, Android Auto which will allow you to listen while you drive. Google Assistant will not work on iOS devices but there is Google Play Books app available on iTunes.
Audible, at this point, is a U.S only service and is available in a handful of languages like French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Chinese. While you can still use Audible from outside the US, many titles are not available due to publishing rights. This geo-restriction can easily be removed using a VPN, but it is still discouraged by them.
On the flip side, Audible is available as a standalone app for both iOS and Android. It is also supported by Echo device (only works in the U.S.), Amazon’s answer to Siri and Google Assistant. Amazon has the wildly popular Kindle devices that were specifically made for reading and listening to books and audiobooks. As mentioned above, Car Mode will allow you to listen to audiobooks while driving.
Winner – Tie
While Google Play Audiobooks is available in more countries and languages, Audible has the advantage of Whispersync. This lets you switch between reading and listening to your Kindle books in Kindle and Audible app; kind of like how Netflix sync playback works across multiple devices. Android Auto, on the other hand, is still far off.
5. Other Features
Both services let the users set a timer that shuts the reading down after a specified time, increase reading speed, and listen to a preview.
Google has announced that Android Auto will support Google Play Audiobooks in the US soon. There is also the promise of AI and machine learning which will improve sorting and storing of metadata. This means chapter markers will be rendered better allowing you to skip back and forth easily.
Audible on the other hand offers Whispersync which will allow you to switch between eBook and audiobook seamlessly. You can listen to audiobooks in your car by enabling the Car Mode and connecting via Bluetooth, AUX, and USB.
Winner – Tie
While Android Auto and AI sound amazing, the former is yet to be launched and will be available in the US only. Whispersync makes Audible a better alternative for true book lovers. Although it’s worth mentioning, you cannot listen to your Audible audiobooks using Amazon echo outside of US, however, the Google assistant on smartphone works fine. Google Play Audiobooks was launched globally. It’s safe to safe both services offer similar features when it comes to features and playback devices.
Wrapping Up: Audible vs. Google Play Audiobooks
Audible is the clear winner here. Google manages to tie on two occasions but wins in no category. Still, Google Play Audiobooks is a new entrant and there is plenty of room to grow, and Google Play also has a larger user base of the two which should give them plenty of room to come up with better plans in the future.
In the end, it boils down to how many audiobooks you listen to each month, Google Play is cheaper when the audiobooks are on sale. However, Audible is cheaper if you listen to one or more than one audiobook per month.
The following video shows tips and tricks to save money on Audible