Google is battling Amazon with a dedicated audiobook store

Key Points
  • Google is launching an audiobook store to better compete with Amazon-owned Audible and make its Home smart speakers easier to use.
  • Google's service only allows you to buy audiobooks on a one-off basis, while Audible offers several subscription packages.
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Google's Play Store is making a bigger push into selling audiobooks, the company announced Tuesday, putting it in more direct competition with Amazon-owned Audible.

This move is particularly important as both Google and Amazon continue pushing their smart-speaker lines, the Home and Echo respectively. Right now, there's no integration between the Google Home and Amazon's Audible and Google's audiobooks won't play on the Echo. While both Home and Echo integrate with a large variety of outside services, they're becoming walled gardens against each other's content. As consumers decide which speaker to purchase, they may be swayed by whichever device gives them easier access to their audiobooks, or they'll buy audiobooks from whichever company makes their speaker.

The company is rolling out a dedicated audiobook store on Play and the Google Play Books app works with both Android and iOS.

Google won't offer a subscription pricing plan like Audible does. Audible's cheapest subscription tier is one book a month for $14.95, which shaves as much as $10 off the price of a standalone audiobook. With Google, you can buy books only on a one-off basis.

Google launches the service with a handful of big discounts on titles such as "Why Not Me?" by Mindy Kaling ($5.99 on Google versus $21 on Audible without a subscription) or "Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders ($8.99 on Google versus $24.50 on Audible without a subscription).

While it will take a deep-dive after the discounts expire to get a full pricing comparison, it seems that Google is trying to appeal to customers who don't read enough to want to buy into Audible's subscription model.

Clarification: A previous version of this story said that the Play Store sold a "small selection of audiobooks" but a spokesperson denies that it classified any content previously available as audiobooks.