Reviews

Audiobooks.com offers unlimited streaming in web app – it’s like Netflix for audio books

February 29, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka

Android App Reviews

audiobooks_00

The all-you-can-eat subscription model has revolutionized the entertainment industry. Whether Netflix for movies or Spotify for music, the practice of users paying one monthly fee and gaining access to an entire library has exposed consumers to tons of content.

Audiobooks.com is the Spotify of audio books. Rather than purchase individual titles, it provides unlimited streaming of audio books. Users pay a monthly membership fee of $24.99 and then gain access to all of the 10,000 new best sellers and classic audio books available.

There’s currently no Android app for Audiobooks.com, but there is a web app for users who want to listen to audio books on their Android device. The company let me test the service, and so I did. I admit that I’m a person who prefers the written word, so could this service impress me?

The AudioBooks.com Web App

I tend to shy away from web apps because I like to do multiple things at once, and jumping from window to window is not as seamless or continuous an experience on the web as it is with native apps. But given the nature of Audiobooks, which are about focusing in on listening to narration, it was not as big of an issue. I was actually quite pleased with the iPhone-ish interface, but the slower response when switching between tabs – Home, Browse, Search, and Account – was slower than I would have expected on a native app.

However, things looked up once I started listening to books. After hearing about the Steve Jobs biography for months and seeing it as one of the featured titles in the AudioBooks.com app, I made that my first selection. The player shows a progress bar that makes it easy to move to a specific point. It also enables simple skipping back or forward by 30 seconds, and the controls disappear when not needed. The stream quality was strong on both WiFi and 3G. I was especially pleased that the app maintains position, so I could resume from the last point if a phone call interrupted me.

There’s little to complain about with the Audiobooks.com web app. Books are organized by category, it’s easy to discover similar titles and recommendations, and the sound quality is good. One of the only problems with the app is that it’s not native, so you’ll have to keep the screen on to listen, but testing was otherwise favorable.

It was disappointing to discover that a few audiobooks that I wanted to hear were not available. Audiobooks.com currently supports 10,000 books, which is smaller than competitors, and leaves gaps in its library. That’s one of the problems faced by all forms of the all-you-can-eat entertainment model, so don’t be surprised if something you want to hear isn’t available for streaming.

Interested? Head over to Audiobooks.com and sing-up for a free 7-day trial. That way you can test the service on your Android device and see if there are enough interesting audio books to warrant joining the site.