No One Listens to Audiobooks on Windows

This morning's story about stripping DRM from Audible audiobooks inspired me to get serious about rescuing my audiobook library. I set out to download all of the Audible audiobooks I own, and strip the DRM.

I have yet to achieve that goal, but I have had an epiphany. I realized Saturday evening that no one is listening to audiobooks on Windows.

Or at the very least, they are not using Audible's software to do so.

Audible's app for Windows, Audible Manager, is so terrible that it is a foregone conclusion that no one, not even anyone at Audible, is using it.

Audible Manager has a jaundiced color scheme, and lacks basic features like integration with one's online Audible account (one cannot send audiobooks to the app from the website). It also lacks the option to automatically download audiobooks; instead one has to go through an annoying complicated process.

Don't even get me started on the process to update Audible Manager.

And as for the app's appearance, well -

Most media apps get a new, or at least refreshed, interface every few years. Microsoft updates Media Player with each new version of Windows,  iTunes is updated regularly, and even the Kindle app has been refreshed several times since it launched.

The Audible Manager app, on the other hand, looks like the interface and features were last updated around the turn of the millennium.

audible-manager

Since obviously a company like Amazon would release an app like this, we must consider why this app is so old and out-dated.

It is apparently being maintained by a software engineer who is using his nostalgia for Windows 3.11 design theory to passive-aggressively protest Amazon buying Audible in 2008.

I do not understand why this person is employed at Audible when it is obvious they have not done any work for the past ten years; perhaps they are blackmailing their boss.

Maybe they have dirt on Jeff Bezos, I don't know.

All I know is that this app is less pleasant to use than even Adobe Digital Editions or iTunes, two apps which are terrible because no one at their respective companies' cares enough to do better.

Audible Manager is far less pleasant than the Kindle app for Windows, which just goes to show where Amazon is investing its time and money.

What with the continued growth of the audiobook market, one would hope that will change, but I wouldn't get your hopes up.

About Nate Hoffelder (11582 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

14 Comments on No One Listens to Audiobooks on Windows

  1. Totally agree. I tried twice to use the Windows app and gave it up for my mobile apps which work great. I’m not looking forward to using it to rescue my audiobooks, but I will do it, starting with versions they have since removed from sale.

  2. Thats because Audible cloud player works great https://learn.audible.com

    • Huh. I didn’t even know that existed. In my defense, Audible doesn’t mention that on its website. I found the Windows app but not this.

      Coincidentally, that page won’t load for me. I was able to stream audiobooks from the my library page, though.

      But that doesn’t matter because I want to download the audiobooks.

      • Amazon does appear to be more fully integrating Audible into their webpages. I was notified there yesterday that I had an audible credit I can use. And they do often offer great deals if you buy both the Kindle and the audible versions of the same book.

  3. Have you tried using the Audiobooks from Audible app in the Windows Store? It’s up to date and works on PCs, not just Windows phones: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/audiobooks-from-audible/9wzdncrfj1cr

  4. If their sound quality is still as bad as the last time I made the mistake of buying from Audible, I’m not worried about DRM or bad apps. As it is, I get more than I can listen to from Big Finish already. With no DRM, good sound quality, choice of m4b or mp3, and a decent mobile app.

  5. That is true for those of us who download audio books on Overdrive. New update did away with a separate Windows section that showed borrowed audio books and you could transfer them to the mp3 player. I downloaded the older ap,but no luck. Sad !

  6. If what you mean by “Windows” is Windows 7 or earlier, then yes, you might be accurate. But Windows 10 (I assume 8, but never had such a version) get Audible from Windows Store, not from audible.com. And it is pretty good, feature equivalent to the iOS or Android apps (with Audible Channels, Filters, etc). The Windows Phone Audible app supports streaming of Library content as well, I’m looking forward to seeing that on other platforms. Fire tablets have the worst app of all right now.

    There is no reason for people to stick with Windows 7 (maybe enterprise customers are lagging), XP is not supported by Microsoft any more and people should get a new sysem.

    One way around DRM is (I think it should still work) to download for iTunes (authorize for Audible), which will burn to a CD (which can be ‘virtual’). Then you can rip the CD to your preferred audio format. Should work with CD-RW media if you want to reuse physical media.

    • There are reasons to stick with Windows 7. Windows 10 is not a free upgrade anymore, Windows 10 tracks a lot of behavior then sends it to Microsoft and older hardware may not work with 10.

      • That, and only an engineer fixes something which already works.

      • Granted, but I don’t think Audible should waste any time supporting older versions of Windows.

        I wish the Kindle for Windows team had made the same determination and instead of pulling the plug on the Windows Store app, improved it. It doesn’t appear they have any plans to actually improve Windows for PC, maybe they just wanted to minimalize maintenance effort while they focus on a new Windows Store app for next year some time.

        • “Granted, but I don’t think Audible should waste any time supporting older versions of Windows.”
          If you look at the marketshare of 7 and earlier, and compare it to 8 and later, it makes just as much sense to support the older versions as the newer versions.

          That said, I’m not sure there is much point is specifically supporting either. Their in browser version effectively supports most versions of Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. simultaneously.

  7. I’ve been an Audible user since shortly after they first began, I forget when that was but offhand I’d say 15 years. I decided to join them when they first began to offer the Rio 500 free if you signed up for a year. I signed up to get the free MP3 player, not really expecting to like them that well. The cost of the year was less than half the cost of the Rio 500 in stores. At that time a subscription to Audible was $12.95 a month for 5 books. Yes I really mean 5 books a month.

    The Audible Manager has always been terrible. It’s buggy, difficult to use, slow, lacks most essential features and with every update it gets worse. I think they probably learned their lesson and quit updating it.

    The only thing on Earth clunkier than Audible Manager is Audible’s website. 🙂

    The saving grace was that when you had problems they’d go all out to help. Long before Amazon bought Audible they had amazingly good customer service. It was eager and effective and friendly. That kind of made up for the sloppy programming.

    I’m convinced that they hire people based on how nice they are with little reference to skills. They sure do have a lot of nice but inept people working there. 🙂

    I stayed with Audible for years. They always had a good product once you got it on a device to listen to. Reading was difficult before I had my eye surgery and even after that I listened to occasional audiobooks.

    By the way their Android app is excellent. I suspect they hired a real programmer for that.

    Barry

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