More companies have started adding audiobook support to ebook readers over the years, and they’ve started advertising it as a selling point, but do people really want to listen to audiobooks on a dedicated reading device?
Statistically speaking, I would think that the number of people that would use an E Ink ebook reader to listen to audiobooks is really low, like in the single percentages.
Most people already own phones that work better for that kind of thing, or you can get a tiny MP3 player that can easily fit in a pocket for under $30.
Is having an ebook reader that supports audiobooks really that important?
One of the new features that Amazon touted with the release of the second generation Kindle Oasis was the addition of audiobook support, which they’ve added to all new models since. Even the cheap entry-level Kindle supports audiobooks now.
However, Kindles only support audiobooks from Amazon-owned Audible, and there are some annoying limitations, like not being able to read along while the audiobook is playing.
Plus there’s the fact that a Kindle simply isn’t a very good audiobook player. They don’t have speakers or a headphone jack, there’s no external volume buttons, and they only work with Bluetooth speakers or headphones.
Battery life is great on ebook readers with E Ink screens when it comes to reading text, but battery life is terrible when it comes to streaming audio. I once tested the Kindle Oasis 2 and the battery only lasted about 8 hours when streaming audiobooks (and that’s on a $250 device). I did the same test with the cheap $49 Fire tablet and it could easily triple that number, and with Fire tablets you can read along while audio is playing if you want to, and they also add external speakers, a headphone jack, and volume buttons.
Kobo is expected to release a new model soon, and it looks like it will be their first to support audiobooks. There’s not much information available about it yet, but the fact that it has Bluetooth and 32GB of storage space is a fairly big indicator, and it would makes sense given the fact that Kobo started selling audiobooks a few years ago.
Android-powered ereaders support audiobooks as well. Likebooks advertise that fact heavily, and Onyx ereaders support audiobooks as well, although they don’t advertise it much. PocketBooks support audio files and audiobooks too, and they’ve done so for a long time.
If Kobo starts adding audiobook support to their ereaders then most dedicated ebook readers on the market will support audiobooks in some form.
Adding more features is a good thing but is audiobook support something that people really want on their ebook reader, or is it just another revenue stream companies are trying to force onto our devices?
I rather listen to podcasts on my phone and that would include audiobooks if I owned any. For me.a kindle is an e-reader. Nothing more nothing less. It would be too big to carry around while listening or cumbersome to have to setup Bluetooth each time to start a book.
Tammy Blaker says
My eye sight is getting old and I love to go back from audiobooks and eReader. However at this point I prefer Android and use an Samsung tablet and Audible and a Kindle app.
I would only be tempted if it was a Kindle e-ink device that synched the text scrolling/page turning with the audio tracks, with the ability to turn one or the other off at certain times and then re-synch later.. There are some books where this combo would be quite desirable to me.
Michael Lucas says
That’s exactly what I have been waiting for.
If I could read along in the ebook while listening to the audiobook, it would be a nice option. But not something I’d buy an ereader for.
That’s really the only way having audiobooks on an ereader makes any sense. It’s weird how Kindles don’t allow it.
yes, I can see it being a great thing for young readers to have both at once but I’d never use it myself. I do listen to audiobooks but use my phone mostly for that, or in a pinch would use an old mp3 player. Can even ask Alexa to read the ones from Audible. No need on an e-ink reader.
I don’t need another all-purpose device. An ereader just needs to do one thing and do it well – present text.
Indeed. I wish these companies would go back to making the reading experience and text clarity as good as possible. Instead contrast on E Ink devices continues to get worse instead of better.
Good pooint, but, yeah , I had an Onyx boox poke 3 but I sold it and bought a pocketbook. I don’t think an eReader should be a tablet or a multi-purpose device.
The contrast on my pocketbook is fine when using the LEDs but somewhat lackluster, it seems , without the LED system.
Anyway, I view audiobooks as anti-intellectual , in general, there may be some use cases when it is justified but other devices would serve the function better.
In a word: no.
As others mentioned, phones are much more convenient for listening to books on the go. Moreover, when Kindles, for example, offers the capacity for audio, that does not mean text to speech. So if people imagine they will switch between reading and listening seamlessly, they are out of luck. (BTW, phones have had the text to speech capacity for a long time.)
At this point, offering the audio capability on an e-reader is a useless gimmick.
Only if I could read along, preferably with automatic page turns and maybe optional highlighting the line being read or something like that. People are using their Kindle as basically a giant iPod that only plays audiobooks? Is the sound even particularly good? I don’t think I’ve ever listened to sound on any of m devices other than an old Nook that could play YouTube (before I had an iPhone).
I’m all for keeping niche options that *some* people must use, but I just can’t envision the use case. Maybe for elderly people who have a hard time using the Audible phone app but feel more comfortable with the Kindle?
The audio quality in the Kindle Basic is not bad, a lot depends on the Bluetooth device that you are using.
I don’t see having audiobooks on my kindle in such a negative light as everyone else sees it here. Hopefully with kobo adding the function amazon will update the software to give us the reading and listening experience we all want. Even so, the idea of having a kindle is to hae an uninterrupted experience, then having audiobooks on the kindle makes sense. I hate listening to an audiobook with the sound dropping when my phone gives an alert for something insignificant. In regards to the battery life, phones aren’t much better . you can use an external power source with the kindle. Itsmore compact than a tablet.
I would like to be able to listen to an audiobook while following along with the text (I’m trying to learn Spanish and I think that would help my listening comprehension a lot), but ultimately if the device can’t download audiobooks for free from my public library through Overdrive, Hoopla, or Cloud Library, then I’m not interested.
Fergus Duniho says
I’m not that much into audio books When I have the time to sit down and read, I can read more quickly on my own, and I’m more comfortable with my reading of the text than with someone else’s. When I don’t have the time, I’m more inclined to listen to music, as it helps me focus on what I’m doing, whereas an audio book would split my attention more. When I tried an audio book, I preferred to read along. So I did it with the Kindle app on my Likebook Mars rather than with my Kindle. This made it more difficult to look up words. I would first have to pause it. Using Word Wise helped a bit, but I couldn’t easily adjust it to just show definitions of unfamiliar words.
What I really want is an ereader that will give me an audioversion of Kindle and other ebooks I have purchased. Why should I have to pay twice?
Considering I like my devices open and versatile, it wouldn’t really fit if I couldn’t install a player appropriate for audiobooks.
Same for having such a device without speakers or the ability to attach earphones (works better when they cut corners on speaker quality, and with usb earphones no need for the extra jack).
That said, usage wise, I find an e-reader to be too cumbersome for pure audiobook listening.
I would find it an excellent option for reading along with the audiobook and for language learning when you want the dictionary to speak the words you’re looking up.
Rob Fargher says
I listen to audiobooks while I’m out on walkies with my dog. I of course use my phone for this purpose, an instrument that I would be carrying anyway. So, no, I would not want to use my ereader for audiobooks and I wouldn’t take that capability into consideration when, inevitably, buying my next ereader.
A second reason would be that I doubt whether the audio capable ereader would have a headphone jack, thus requiring me to obtain yet another set of headphones, one with Bluetooth. I already have 5 or 6 sets of headphones and want no more.
No, I don’t listen to audiobooks on E-readers, so it doesn’t matter to me.
As someone with ADHD, I find it much more immersive and engaging to read and listen along most of the time, especially on the metro with all the distractions. While sometimes I can manage to just read, or just listen, having the option to toggle depending on where I am, what device I’m using, and knowing that my progress is synced across all platforms is very appealing to me. For now I am stuck with buying 2 versions, using 2 devices, and wasting my time and energy tracking my progress if I toggle.
Yes, this is what my son also enjoys. Thanks for your comment!
For young readers, we need a divice that has no distraction (games, internet, social media) so having audiobooks that you can also read at the same time is vital.
Really looking forward to what Kobo has in stock!
I actually am looking for this feature specifically. I have young kids and don’t want them to have phones with games, social media etc.
We both listen and read books, so my kid needs one device that can do both.
Yes, exactly. No disruptions for adults too.
I look for the eReader which supports the audiobooks, to replace the a NOOK HD. I love the Nook and have it for years and I enjoy reading (downloading the books from the public libraries) as well listening to the audio books with or without the headphones. I wish the new eReaderIt had a night mode, white fonts on the black background, as well.