Freetime Unlimited adds kid-friendly audiobooks

Amazon is releasing a new update for its Freetime Unlimited service that adds over a thousand kid-friendly audiobooks to its collection of apps, games and videos for children.. Available books will include classics like Peter Pan, Rip Van Winkle, Beauty and the Beast and more. The books will be delivered via a software update. Freetime Unlimited works on  Amazon tablets and iOS and Android devices.

According to Amazon:

Families can also use their FreeTime Unlimited subscription to access FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa, an all-new Alexa experience for kids and parents with over 1,000 Audible kids’ books; kid-friendly, ad-free radio stations and playlists; character alarms; and premium Alexa skills from Disney, Nickelodeon, National Geographic, and more. FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa is available on compatible Echo devices, including Echo Dot Kids Edition, Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus.

Freetime Unlimited is a service for children from ages 3 to 12. Parents can customize their child’s experience, set time limits and even set bedtime for the device.

Pricing begins at $2.99 per month for Prime members for a single child($4.99 for non-members). Family plans for up to four children are available and a 1-year pre-paid Family plan for Prime members is only $83 (non-members, $119). You can start a one month free trial here.

Amazon recently added Spanish language content to the service and Spanish audiobooks are planned.

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Audible 90 Day Free Trial for Prime Members (with a poll)

If you are a Amazon Prime Member, Amazon is offering a 90 day free trial for its Audible audiobook service. Normally, it is a 30 day trial period.

Audible offers 1 audiobook and 2 Audible Originals each month for $15, and you can also find complimentary access to other audio shows and materials.

I listen to audiobooks from the library via Overdrive and also listen to audiobooks as part of of my monthly Scribd subscription, I do miss the selection offered by Audible though (especially The Great Courses content) and have been considering re-upping my subscription.

What do you think about the service:

Please leave any thoughts in the comments!

AudiobookStand is closing (and having a big last chance sale)

Audiobook vendor  Audiobookstand.com is going to be closing down August 3, 2018.

If you like to listen to your audiobooks on CD, you may very well have been familiar with the company. It was known for its large collection of CD and MP-CD audiobooks, especially of Brilliance Audio tiles. I discovered them years ago when I was looking for books for my daily commute, and they had one of the best collections of CD audiobooks at the best prices I could find at the time.

The company is offering bargain prices on remaining stock, with limited quantities of audiobooks priced as low as $3 and $4. The site is currently experiencing a large volume of sales and customers are being warned to expect a delivery delay.

It probably isn’t a surprise that the site is closing down, given the current focus on digital downloads. The company is recommending Amazon and Audible to customers looking for an alternative place to discover and buy audiobooks.

Kobo begins monthly audiobook subscription program

Kobo is launching their own monthly audiobook subscription service. The service is $9.99 per month in the US and the monthly cost varies by country.

Key elements of the program are:

The program offers a 30 day free trial. Your first audiobook is free.and yours to keep, even if you cancel.

Each month you get a credit for $9.99 monthly credit. One credit equals one audiobook. Credits are added to your account once a month on your recurring billing date.

For Super Points rewards program members, you can earn Kobo Super Points with each purchase.

Books can be listened to on or off line. There are, however, a couple of limitations. You can listen to audiobooks on the Android app (system 4.4 and above) and the iOS app (9.0 or higher). You cannot listen on the following devices:

  • on kobo.com
  • in Kobo Desktop
  • in the Kobo App for Windows or BlackBerry
  • on Kobo eReaders
  • on Kobo Arc 7, 7HD or 10HD tablets

If you use the Kobo app for iOS, there is an additional complication: You can’t purchase anything through the Kobo app for IOS; you can only play items you have purchased. According to the FAQ:

Due to an agreement between Kobo and Apple, the Kobo App for iOS doesn’t include our store. If you use an iOS smartphone or tablet, you’ll need to purchase (or exchange a credit for) your audiobook on kobo.com. Once your transaction is complete, your audiobook will then appear in your Kobo App for iOS.

Once purchased, the books are yours to keep, even if you cancel your subscription. Audiobook credits are non-refundable and a credit card is required for signup.

Kobo is starting its program with only one subscription plan, one credit for $9.99. According to the company, future plans include plans with two credits a month, and annual subscriptions with 12 or 24 instant credits all at once.

The service will be available to Kobo customers living in Canada ($12.99 CA), the United States ($9.99 USD), the United Kingdom (£6.99), Australia ($13.99 AU), and New Zealand ($13.99 NZD).

Kobo is obviously trying to compete with Audible. Audible charges $14.95 per month, plus 30% off additional purchases.

The service will be live on September 12, 2017. Make sure you have updated to the latest version of the Kobo app for your device.

Are you trying the service? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Amazon adds Audible Channels, some audiobooks to Prime benefits.

audiblechannels-cropBack in July, Amazon’s Audible launched a new ad-free, short form audio service called Channels. The service offered short form listens that included comedy, news and more. The service was originally offered to Audible subscribers for free and then as a separate subscription service for $4.95 per month.

Today, Amazon has announced free, unlimited access to the Channels service for U.S. Prime members. Also included is a rotating selection of over 50 audiobooks. If you don’t have Prime, Channels is also available to purchase for $4.95 per month ($59.40 yearly).

Programming includes:

  • Presidents are People Too!, a series that transforms U.S. Presidents into real-life people complete with quirks, flaws, triumphs, scandals and bodily ailments, hosted by former “The Daily Show” head writer Elliott Kalan and American historian Alexis Coe

  • Bedtime Stories for Cynics, inappropriate children’s stories for adults only, presented by Nick Offerman of “Parks and Recreation” fame

  • Hold On with Eugene Mirman, in which Mirman pauses funny live stories and gets his special comedian guests, including Jim Gaffigan and “Weird Al” Yankovic to divulge new details

  • Limelight, highlighting the best new standup performances from comedy clubs across the country, with rotating guest hosts such as T. J. Miller, Ron Funches and the Sklar Brothers

  • Lectures from The Great Courses

Channels will also be offering new original programming in the coming months, with some previews and pilot episodes available now:

  • The Butterfly Effect, hosted by Jon Ronson, which explores the question, what happens when we expect things for free?

  • Ponzi Supernova, a fascinating look at Bernard Madoff, the man behind the largest Ponzi scheme in history, featuring exclusive jailhouse interviews with Madoff himself

  • Damned Spot, a series that examines the afterlife of places defined by tragic events

  • West Cork, a true crime series about an unsolved society murder, set on the south coast ofIreland

  • Extra Credit with Neal Pollack, in which the author, musician and comedian takes his 13-year-old son’s education into his own hands, and hilarity ensues

The 50 rotating audiobooks will be offered across nine Prime-exclusive channels. Contents will include:

  • Top-rated audiobooks across a range of genres, such as Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl, Karl Marlantes’ What It Is Like to Go to War, Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook, Anne Lamott’s Stitches and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game Alive

  • Celebrity-narrated classics, such as Scarlett Johansson’s performance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Rosamund Pike’s narration of Pride and Prejudice, and a full-cast recording ofDracula, starring Alan Cumming

  • Shared listening experiences for the family, including Clifford the Big Red Dog, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Velveteen Rabbit

If you own an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap, you probably already know that Alexa can read audiobooks to you. While today’s press release does not mention Alexa specifically, I am betting that we will see an integration with Channels soon. In Amazon’s What’s New With Alexa newsletter last week, there was mention of two special audiobooks for Alexa to read in September. One of them was Scarlett Johansson’s performance of Alice in Wonderland, so that may hint that Channels my soon be available on the Echo devices.

In order to get Channels, you must a Prime member in the U.S and have the latest version of the Audible app installed.

As a longtime fan of Great Courses material, I really excited to see their content available as part of Channels. How about you? Are you excited about the service?

Amazon

Scribd, Barnes and Noble add on Audio books

scribdIf you are an audio book fan, today definitely brings exciting news! Scribd has announced that they are adding  30,000 audiobooks to their subscription service. According to their blog:

… That makes us (we’re extremely pleased to say) the largest unlimited e-book & audiobook subscription service around.

Audiobooks have been one of our most requested features since the day we launched, and today we’re so excited to say they’re here.

The service will include new releases and bestsellers. Scribd has greatly expanded their offings this year with the addition of e-books by Harlequin, HarperCollins  and Simon and Schuster. Juli Monroe from TeleRead has some additional info in an article here.

I wasn’t clear from the announcement exactly when the audiobooks would be available on the  service. (It wasn’t yet on my Android tablet as of 9:30 CST.)

Barnes and Noble is also getting back into the audiobook game. The company has also just released a new Android app for purchasing and listening to audio books. The app is still in beta but seems to have good reviews on Google Play.

In comparison, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited subscription only has about 2,ooo titles.

Audible, also owned by Amazon, still has the largest selection of audiobooks with over 150,000 titles available.

It is exciting to see so many new options for audiobooks becoming available. 🙂

Stream Unlimited Audiobooks

SkybriteIf you are an avid audiobook listener, you may be interested in Skybrite, a subscription service that offers unlimited streaming of audiobooks for your phone or tablet for a flat rate of $9.99 per month. The service is mobile only (no web service) and has apps for both IOS and Android.

However, according a CNET review of the service, there are a few limitations. First, you can only stream content. That means no download and offline listening. So unless you have a constant Wi-fi signal or a truly unlimited data, plan, this may be a deal breaker.

The Google Play store description  sounds promising:

With Skybrite, you can instantly stream thousands of best-selling audiobooks, entertaining performances, how-to courses, revealing interviews, spiritual talks, informative lectures, and more, on your Android phone or tablet.

You can listen to every title, as much as you want, wherever you are, unlimited to you.

FEATURES

* Discover a huge selection of premium audio programs from best-selling authors, entertainers, teachers, celebrities, and more.

* Enjoy unlimited fiction and non-fiction audiobooks, contemporary novels, classic literature, famous biographies, engaging memoirs, and more.

* Be entertained with unlimited stand-up comedy albums, audio theater performances, celebrity interviews, music biographies, and more.

* Improve your life and relationships with unlimited personal development, business trainings, spiritual talks, guided meditations, and more.

* Get healthy with unlimited fitness classes, yoga classes, self-help classes, nutrition classes, and more.

* Kids will love the selection of unlimited children’s stories, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and more.

* Take unlimited courses to quickly learn Spanish, learn Chinese, learn French, learn Portuguese, learn Japanese, learn Russian, learn German, and more.

* Never any ads, commercials, or interruptions. Available worldwide.

* Stream every title instantly at the push of a button. It’s easy and fun to use!

The feedback in the Google Play is mostly positive, although the app has few download and reviews yet.

The CNET review describes the content a bit less favorably:

Even so, there’s very little high-profile content to be found at the moment. Save for the “Hunger Games” trilogy, most of the titles in the Literature & Fiction category are from little-known authors, or are public-domain works like “Les Miserables.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but anyone hoping for mainstream, Audible-caliber selection will be disappointed.

Skybrite says that it is working on expanding content in 2015.

The service offers a 7 day free trial and doesn’t require a credit card for sign up.

I may give the trial a whirl to check it out. How about you? Does the service sound tempting?