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Google’s Support for Audiobooks is Frustrating and Disappointing

Google started selling audiobooks several days ago. If you haven’t tried them yet, that is okay because you are better off avoiding Google in favor of a retailer that cares about selling audiobooks and actually invested time in providing a good experience.

For starters, the Play Store website itself is pretty basic, with zero sorting options (like price or publication date) for audiobooks. You’re stuck with Google’s idea of the best way to discover a new title, or you are welcome to leave.

As for listening to audiobooks, you can technically listen to an audiobook in the Play Books app – if you can find the audiobook first. I have updated the Play Books app, but on my older Android phone there is no mention of audiobooks anywhere. (I can play audiobooks on the phone, yes, but they are not shown anywhere in the library.)

According to a friend, there is supposed to be a tab for audiobooks:

When I first opened it, there was no "My Audiobooks" or anything, that only showed up after I bought a book. It works, but it looks like the minimum possible work went into the whole thing. On the web, again, there isn’t a "My Audiobooks" section, I had to go into the page for the book I bought, where "Buy" became "Play".

The only way I can play an audiobook is on the notifications pulldown screen.

Edit: And after I rebooted my phone in the hopes that the new features would appear, that option vanished. So now I have an audiobook on my phone and no way to play it.

Edit: And it turns out I can’t store audiobooks on my SD card, which means I will only be able to carry one or two audiobooks at best on my phone’s limited internal storage.

Before anyone jumps into the comments to blame my problems on my old phone running an old version of Android, I’d remind you that there are still a lot of older Android smartphones out there ruining old OS versions, and judging by my experience those older phones don’t really support the new audiobooks.

If Google isn’t supporting older phones then the user experience is going to be pretty awful for most people. They would be better off using Audible or another app made by a company that cares about selling audiobooks.

Google clearly does not.

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Quasar January 26, 2018 um 6:07 pm

It works for me, though I’ve only used the web and iOS versions.

I’m not sure how far back is reasonable as far as support goes on Android. Maybe all they test Google apps on is Pixel and Nexus devices.

My one complaint is that it does not have an upload option like it does books, and I’d hope to move on from my current habit of uploading them into google Play Music.

Frank January 29, 2018 um 3:17 pm

Google’s interfaces aren’t perfect but at least the speed increase button is easy right by the skip button. Audiobooks playing at 1x speed is too slow, so it is good people can easily find the speed button.

The 50% promo ends on an audiobook ends in a month.

Google Adds Bookmarks, Speed Controls, and More to Audiobooks in Google Play Books App | The Digital Reader March 29, 2018 um 3:59 pm

[…] rolled out an update today for its Play Books app that fixed the frustrating experience of listening to audiobooks in that app shortly after Google started selling audiobooks two months […]

Diane Wahl November 21, 2019 um 2:52 pm

Google play audio book is horrible. It mispronounces words. For example the computer voice says Live as in alive, instead of live as in live well. It talks too fast and doesn’t use natural pauses. There is no on to complain to in order to get my money back.

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