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Friday, March 1st
Barnes & Noble, a name synonymous with brick-and-mortar bookstores for decades, also offers a robust selection of audiobooks through its digital platform. Established in 1886, Barnes & Noble has long been a trusted destination for bibliophiles and casual readers alike, providing a vast array of books, magazines, and other media. Venturing into the digital realm, the company has expanded its offerings to include audiobooks to remain competitive in an increasingly digital market. Through its website and mobile app, Barnes & Noble Audiobooks offers thousands of titles across multiple genres, allowing customers to purchase and listen to audiobooks on the go.
Credit-based subscription with no free titles
Barnes & Noble Audiobooks offers a standard credit-based system and pricing of $14.99 per month, which includes a single credit that can be exchanged for a title. Also standard: you can try the service for free for 30 days and get one free credit to spend. However, unlike other credit-based services, Barnes & Noble Audiobooks subscription doesn't include access to a catalog of free audiobooks; your one monthly pick is all you get.
Special deals and browsing features available
Barnes & Noble offers buy-one-get-one-50%-off deals on many of their categories. These books can be purchased without a subscription or in addition to your one credit. While shopping for books, you can view the current and previous prices as well as any available discounts. Additionally, you can subscribe to pre-orders, create wishlists, browse monthly recommendations, and more.
DRM may limit long-term access
You can listen to your audiobook through the Barnes & Noble website, or through the NOOK app. However, unfortunately, they are also one of the services that uses DRM, which we were a little surprised by, given they're also a brick-and-mortar chain as opposed to just an online entity. One customer review we found tells an anecdotal story about a friend who was unable to access her audiobooks on Barnes & Noble's platform after a break of several years because she did not have the original credit card number associated with her account. This raises concerns about potential ways to lose access to purchased content, such as if Barnes & Noble were to go bankrupt.
iOS app is buggy despite high rating
Barnes & Noble's iOS app has a 4.7 out of 5-star rating in the App Store. However, we have found many reports of the app being buggy or crashing. The developers seem to be responsive, but this is one of the issues that comes with DRM. Your ability to listen to your own audiobooks is dependent on their app's functionality, which isn't consistent.
NOOK app offers typical listening features
The NOOK app's audio player offers a range of features, including the ability to skip forward or backward by 30 seconds, bookmarking and note-taking capabilities, adjustable speed from 0.5x to 3x, and a sleep timer.
In-app purchases not available
You can't purchase new audiobooks directly from the NOOK app. Instead, you'll need to go to the Barnes & Noble site to do so. This is less convenient than other apps that allow you to pick out your next title right away.
The best thing Barnes & Noble has going for it is its catalog size of 300,000 titles. However, this isn't enough to make it a top choice. They're one of the services that forces you to use their app to listen to your purchases, and the app isn't perfectly functional. A subscription costs the same as other credit-based services, but you don't get access to bonus titles in addition to the one you purchase with your credit like some of Barnes & Noble's competitors. There's nothing majorly wrong with this service, but it's not particularly impressive either. If you're loyal to the Barnes & Noble brand, we won't discourage you from using their audiobook service, but we don't really see a reason to recommend it to new customers.
The world of audiobooks has seen huge growth over the past decade, with industry surveys showing a double-digit increase for ten years in a row with no signs of slowing down. Various platforms for listening to audiobooks have popped up, each one catering to different user needs, budgets, and preferences.
The recent boom in the popularity of audiobooks can be attributed to a few different factors, but one of the biggest reasons is how well they fit into our busy, multitasking lives. You can listen while you're commuting, working out, or even doing household chores like folding the laundry. It's a great way to access intellectually engaging entertainment while getting some drudgery done.
And, thanks to technological advancements, it's easier than ever to access audiobooks. It used to be that you had to confine yourself to a room with a CD player to listen to an audiobook, but now, anyone with a smartphone has thousands of audiobooks available at their fingertips. Plus, as audiobooks have grown in popularity, so has their production quality.
Audiobook narrators aren't merely reciting the words on the e-reader in front of them in the recording booth; they are acting out the story. Accomplished actors and seasoned voice artists can bring stories to life, adding an auditory dimension to characters and settings that can sometimes rival or surpass the imagination. Narrators are often chosen because the story resonates with them personally, adding an extra layer of emotion to the performance and making it feel more human.
For those apprehensive about putting on their headphones instead of picking up a book, it's worth addressing some common misconceptions about audiobooks. Contrary to the belief that listening to a book is "cheating" or less intellectually engaging than reading, many studies show that the comprehension levels between reading and listening are strikingly similar. What's more, audiobooks can be particularly beneficial for those with reading difficulties, allowing them to enjoy literature they might otherwise struggle with. They are not a replacement for traditional reading but rather a complementary medium, broadening the horizons of literary engagement.
When it comes to audiobook services, there are several types to choose from. First, there are library-based services which partner with local libraries to allow users to digitally borrow audiobooks. Much like a traditional library, you can "check out" titles for a specific time frame using your library card. However, be mindful that sought-after titles might have waiting lists. Another option is subscription-based services. With a recurring fee, usually monthly, users can access a broad range of audiobooks. Depending on the service, you might get a set number of credits to pick audiobooks each month or even enjoy unlimited listening. Lastly, there are pay-per-title services where, rather than a subscription, you buy each audiobook separately. While there's no monthly commitment, the upfront cost for each audiobook can be higher. The upside is that you typically get to keep the audiobook forever once you've bought it.
When deciding on the right audiobook service, several considerations can help guide your decision:
If you want a detailed overview of the best audiobook services out there, Top Consumer Reviews has your back. We trust our ranked evaluations will guide you to the audiobook platform that best matches your listening habits and lifestyle!
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