Wednesday, 06 September 2017 16:01

Let me tell you a story about Kobo’s new Audiobooks…


Kobo’s new audiobooks subscription service has arrived in the free Kobo app, with the option to purchase à la carte too, so you can enjoy the wonder of being told a story.

Listening to an audio book is one of the few ways that human beings can truly be doing two things at the same time, and taking excellent advantage of having your ear chewed off by a gripping tale while you chew gum, walk, do the laundry, the dishes, your daily commute or anything else at the same time.

With the launch story for Kobo Audiobooks narrated by celebrated actor Jim Dale in a clever Audiobook format here (hosted on SoundCloud), you can listen to the launch story there, or you can continue reading on.

Kobo is also known as Rakuten Kobo, as it is owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten. It bills itself as “one of the world’s most innovative eReading services offering more than five million eBooks to millions of customers in 190 countries”, with a range of e-ink readers and apps for iOS, Android and even Windows.

Now the company is adding the audiobook dimension of storytelling, “adding audiobooks to the Kobo experience and offering booklovers the opportunity to experience the joy of being told a story".

As you can imagine, there are 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 the promise that new titles are added weekly.

Available on a monthly subscription for $12.99, along with a 30-day free trial period, Kobo says that it “offers the best value on a subscription plan in the category".

We’re told that “customers can redeem their monthly credit for any audiobook at, even if its list price is higher”, while those who don’t want a subscription are able to access Audiobooks at à la carte prices.

In addition, Kobo says “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". 

Michael Tamblyn, chief executive, Rakuten Kobo, said: “We have more books than time, always. Audiobooks let our readers fit the books they love into more parts of their day. Audio lets you be in two places at once – exploring the galaxy on the daily commute, solving a crime while doing the laundry, or wherever you want your favourite story to take you.

“Last year, we built the Kobo Aura ONE eReader with the help of our best customers, and our new offering is no different. What we unequivocally heard was that they wanted the best deal on audiobooks, and we are pleased to offer the lowest subscription price available."

Paula Hawkins, who writes the “By the Book” column for The New York Times, said of audiobooks that: “I’m now a total convert. I’d forgotten what a joyous thing it is to allow yourself to be told a story.”

To add to all of the above, Kobo did some research with 2000 of its Kobo Insiders in Canada, the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, which revealed that:

  • Almost half listen to audiobooks (46%), with a small group of avid users listening to a high volume monthly (18%; an average of 3 audiobooks per month).
  • On average, those currently listening to audiobooks read the same number of eBooks as those not listening to audiobooks – audiobooks aren’t replacing eBooks.
  • Travelling is the most common situation for listening to audiobooks (long distance drives/truckers (62%) followed by daily travel (56%)); followed closely by relaxing at home / doing chores / exercising.
  • Fiction genres – Thrillers, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Romance – are the most commonly listened to, followed by biographies and history.

So, listen up! If you want to hear something new, why take a journey up the river? There’s more than one way to a good book, with a stack of stories waiting for your ears over at Kobo’s app — more information here — or is that hear? 

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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