Google Play launches audiobook store

Google Play launches audiobook store

Google Play has launched a dedicated audiobook store to take advantage of the recent growth in downloads.

In contrast with Amazon's audiobook service Audible, Google Play customers are able to purchase audiobooks without a subscription. As an introductory offer, Google is offering customers 50% off the price of their first audiobook.

Users are also able to listen to audiobooks hands free with the Google Assistant on phones or speakers including Google Home.

The service is launching initially in 45 countries, including the US, UK and Australia, and in nine languages.

Popular titles already available include Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff (Little, Brown) priced at £14.99, 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson (Penguin) priced at £7.99 and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (Transworld) priced at £1.99.

The store is launching at a time that audiobook sales are rapidly growing. An in-depth report by Nielsen in December 2016 estimated the market was worth around £91m spent on 10.9 million units in 2015, of which 60% were downloads.

The Bookseller reported in April that publishers are responding to the surge in audiobook downloads by investing more in the sector, hiring new staff, upping the number of titles they publish and exploring audio-first opportunities.

Kobo also launched an audiobook store in September last year.