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Kobo Enters Audiobook Market, Offers $10 a Month Subscription

Several years ago I speculated Kobo would one day carry audiobooks, and now, through sheer chance and completely unrelated business decisions, it has come to pass.

Kobo is now selling audiobooks alongside ebooks. You can either buy single titles or subscribe for a flat monthly fee and get one title a month.

Rakuten Kobo today uncovers another dimension of storytelling, adding audiobooks to the Kobo experience and offering booklovers the opportunity to experience the joy of being told a story.

Readers can choose audiobooks from across all genres, including bestsellers such as Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, Truly Madly Guilty by Lianne Moriarty, and the Harry Potter series; with new titles added weekly.

At just $12.99/month and with a 30-day free trial period, Kobo offers the best value on a subscription plan in the category. Customers can redeem their monthly credit for any audiobook at, even if its list price is higher; those with a subscription also have the option to purchase a three-pack of credits for $38.99 (up to 24 credits per account). Audiobooks can also be purchased à la carte. In addition, readers earn Kobo Super Points on their monthly subscription fees or audiobook purchases, and can shop with confidence with the backing of Kobo’s Price Match Guarantee. The Kobo audiobooks service is available in the US ($9.99/mo), the UK (£6.99/mo), Australia ($12.99/mo), and New Zealand ($13.99/mo).

The audiobooks are supplied by OverDrive, and can be listened to in the Kobo apps for iOS and Android. Those apps were updated today.

Kobo is pricing their subscription for less than Audible, which costs £( in the UK and $15 in the US. That’s going to make the plan very appealing to the cost conscious – if they can get it.

A question for readers: can you get that subscription outside of the five markets mentioned?

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Nirmala September 6, 2017 um 2:36 pm

I wonder if ACX will distribute to Kobo. They do distribute to iTunes, so maybe they will expand into this market also.

Nate Hoffelder September 6, 2017 um 3:05 pm

ACX only goes to iTunes because Audible had exclusive rights to distribute audiobooks there. Can you find ACX titles in OverDrive?

Ana September 6, 2017 um 6:18 pm

I’ve tried to find any audiobook in the Android app with my Spanish account and no, no audiobooks present nor any option in the menus, for example, in the store there’s a drop down menu to select the type of book you are looking for, and the only option there is ebook, I suppose if your account is in one of the countries from the list, audiobooks will be available there.

Nate Hoffelder September 6, 2017 um 8:50 pm

Thanks, Ana. Did you update the app first?

Tarwin September 7, 2017 um 12:45 pm

That’s another issue. The original Kobo app isn’t available in all regions. In Mexico they have Kobo by Orbile, which is basically to tie in purchases of ebooks made from two of the main bookstores here (who in turn sell their hardware).

I can check later but I’ll have to search through the web page for previous installations if I want the normal as it won’t show up in the play store anymore when doing a search.

Rhyta September 7, 2017 um 1:02 am

Overdrive books are available free through public libraries. Why would people pay for a service that is already available?

Tarwin September 7, 2017 um 12:48 pm

I’m just speculating but Overdrive gives you access to your local library’s selection iirc. This could give you access to a bigger catalogue.

1 September 12, 2017 um 2:08 pm

Libraries have to buy each title they want to have available. Even once they buy a title, only one user can have it checked out at once.
If you want a title your library doesn’t have, or aren’t patient enough to place a hold, paying for a service from Kobo makes sense.

Kelly Kenrick September 7, 2017 um 1:13 pm

Does anyone know if you can save the audiobook to the computer to save a copy? I know you can’t listen to them on the computer, it has to be on the app, but I like saving my audiobooks off the computer as well.

Nate Hoffelder September 7, 2017 um 1:21 pm

I’m not sure.

I was going to buy one and check but the audiobooks won’t technically be available until 12 September.

21 Books for Woke Kids: Critical Linking, September 8 September 8, 2017 um 6:37 am

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Alexander Inglis September 8, 2017 um 11:30 am

The price of the audiobook service from Kobo in Canada is $12.99/mth with a one month free trial. Audiobooks and ebooks are shown on separate pages, rather than as an integrated product offering different formats as Kindle does. (Kobo signaled more than a year ago it planned to launch this service in extensive customer surveys asking about how Kobo users would like the service to be organised.)

Please note Amazon’s Audible Books has never been integrated in Canada with the Kindle store … until yesterday. Amazon is now showing Audible as a service option in the Kindle store. A three-month free trial is available and after that the service is $14.99/mth. All prices are in Canadian currency; local taxes apply. (Amazon Music still does not sell mp3 files in Canada; you have to buy CDs or switch to Google or iTunes.)

Nate Hoffelder September 8, 2017 um 12:36 pm

Ah, so that’s what it was.

I was wondering why Kobo had announced the new service a week before it was actually available. I thought an Amazon announcement was in the works, and I was right.

Tom S September 8, 2017 um 2:05 pm

There’s an update to the iOS Kobo app to support audiobook playback. You cannot purchase anything, this being iOS, but there are a few dozen samples to choose from in the app. Looks like you can purchase from the web site.

Nate Hoffelder September 8, 2017 um 2:07 pm

Can’t purchase from the website – just pre-order.

Kelly Kenrick September 8, 2017 um 2:29 pm

I was able to purchase from the website

Nate Hoffelder September 8, 2017 um 2:43 pm

weird, I still cannot.

1 September 12, 2017 um 2:11 pm

It sounds like they may actually be MP3 files. You just need to manually add the .MP3 to the end of the files.

Nate Hoffelder September 12, 2017 um 2:54 pm

that would be great – if it is true.

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