Why Does Amazon Make Such a Big Deal About Audiobooks on Kindles?


Kindle Audiobooks

I can’t understand the heavy marketing push for audiobooks on Kindles. Now Amazon has started selling Kindle Audible bundles where you can get a free Audible trial with the purchase of a Kindle—the same exact Audible trial anybody can get without buying a Kindle.

Obviously audiobooks are another revenue stream that Amazon wants consumers to participate in, but realistically how many people are interested in using Kindles as audiobook players?

Frankly, Kindles aren’t a good option for playing audio.

Kindles don’t have large enough batteries to be good portable audio players, and unless you upgrade to the more expensive 32GB models, you’ll barely have enough storage space for a handful of full-length audiobooks anyway.

Plus Amazon makes it so you can’t even read on a Kindle while an audiobook is playing, which seems like a wasted opportunity when learning new languages.

You can pay up to $369 for the new Kindle Oasis with 4G LTE, and the battery will only last 8 hours tops for listening to audiobooks from a full charge. Or you can get a $49 Fire tablet with enough battery life to last over 24 hours for streaming audio.

Fire tablets support Immersion Reading as well, which lets you read along with highlighted text as the narrator reads aloud, and they also support text-to-speech, which Kindles do not.

There’s no advantage to having a Kindle in this scenario. Kindles are for reading. Just about anything else is going to be better for playing audio.

Amazon acts like Audible support is the greatest feature they’ve ever added to Kindles, like switching between reading and listening is something everybody does. It’s almost like Amazon is trying to tell people how to use Kindles instead of listening to how people want to use Kindles.

Amazon doesn’t even bother to mention key reading features on the product page for the new Kindle, like supporting library ebooks from public libraries, but they’re sure to mention audiobook support half a dozen times. Meanwhile on the product page for the new Fire 7 tablet the word audiobook isn’t mentioned a single time.

13 Responses to “Why Does Amazon Make Such a Big Deal About Audiobooks on Kindles?”

  1. Thomas Jespersen Reply July 3, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    MP3 players are very inexpensive these days. Some support Audible as well. And those that don’t, there are tools that can convert Audible to MP3.

  2. You CAN use text to speech on new Kindles. It’s now an accessibility feature called VoiceView Screen Reader. I use it and the audible feature occasionally.

    I don’t use either enough that not having it would be a deal breaker though.

    • I know about VoiceView, did a video on it, but it’s not the same as regular TTS like on Fire tablets. It’s like they’ve gone out of their way to make it inconvenient to use on Kindles.

      • It works just as well, even sounds the same. I realize it’s less convenient, but I have to defend Amazon when people say Text to Speech is gone because you can still get the same function.

  3. I don’t know about the new kindles but on my Kindle keyboard I listen to audio books all the time. I don’t know what the battery life is like using it this way but I’ve never run out prematurely. Every day on my 3 hr commute I’d listen and if necessary plug in every couple of days. I actually dubs upgrade to newer kindles because this feature was removed. Yes, I have a phone that can play them but then I need to be mindful of that battery. If my phone goes dead from an audio book I have no messaging, maps, email etc… If my Kindle goes dead it effects nothing but my reading. As far as the kindle fire, I am not going to carry a third device just for audio books. I don’t want to read on a tablet.

  4. It’s not related to Kindle device as is. If you bought audiobook you can listen to it with the Audible app on iPhone or Android. So Amazon tries to sell you audiobook as part of the bundle.

  5. I don’t want a “free” Audible subscription because it’s only free for 30 days…then you’re paying monthly. When I do want to listen to an audiobook I can purchase the audio for a little extra after I get the book and use Audible to listen to it without the monthly subscription.
    This is the reason they push it. I do it all on my iPhone X. I don’t need another device.

  6. I only use borrowed audiobooks which I play on my phone, paired to a Tap if I’m at home. Do Kindles even play non-Audible content?

  7. Completely agree with your post. I love my Voyage for reading, but a cheap Fire Tablet is perfect for immersive listening/reading Audible books. Even more, Fire Tablets contain Amazon’s text-to-speech program for virtually every document and is amazingly human-like. It comes in dozens of languages and regional accents. My favorite “reader” is Amy (British) but there is American, Australian and Indian accented English as well. Not a word about this in Amazon’s marketing. It is strange.

  8. it seems that Amazon isn’t the only bookseller that into the spoken books. I use a Bible app by Olivetree that is pushing spoken books. I personally think these sellers are pushing spoken book because they think we are either too stupid to read or they think we are too old (I’m 63) to see and need to hear the book not read it. I do feel a little insulted.

  9. It was a cheap feature to add – Bluetooth support is just a chip, and audiobook software is essentially written, all they need do is port it into the e-reader line. While lots of people are multi-device and use an ereader as a second or third device, there is a subset of the market that considers the Kindle their first device. They are low-hanging fruit for audiobook promotions.

  10. It makes sense to me to have the Audio option. I’ve gotten into Audiobooks in the past few months. With the new Paperwhite, it seems to use about 10-15% of the battery every hour of reading, which is higher than I’d have liked. I like the waterproof feature, but I wish they would somehow be able to keep a headphone jack in there, that would help the battery somewhat and leave me without two devices to charge.