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.

Playster raises price and limits collections for audiobook listening

Customers’ voracious appetite for audiobooks seems to once again be a problem for subscription platform Playster. A few months back, I wrote about Playster cancelling the accounts of customers for excessive audiobook listening (here and here). At the same time, they quickly and quietly raised the price of the audiobook portion of their subscription service from $9.95 to $14.95.

Now, Playster has announced that they are limiting the size of the collection for subscribers at the $14.95 level and adding a new unlimited premium tier at double the price: $29.95.

Playster is calling the plan at the $14.95 price point the Basic plan. The plan offers “unlimited access to 40,000+ titles from world-class authors, like Michael Crichton, Janet Evanovich and Faye Kellerman.” Playster also says they have improved the audiobook player experience.

The new Premium plan offers “unlimited access to 100,000+ of the newest titles made available on the same day they’re released”. The Premium plan includes authors like James Patterson, Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Dan Brown, George R.R. Martin. Subscribers are promised “unlimited access to every major and classic title they can dream of”.

According to Playster’s support page on the plan changes, “some members may temporarily lose access to their playlists, downloaded titles and/or audiobooks they’ve started.”

The changes to the audiobook plans went into effect yesterday, December 22, 2017. As of today, the website is still showing $14.95 for the cost of the audiobook subscription.

Not surprisingly, the complaints have already started. On TrustPilot, the words bait and switch are used a lot. Most people are saying that the books they have saved to read are all in the Premium tier. Customers who recently started free trials are complaining that the trial only seems to apply to the Basic tier, not the Premium. One comment said that all the books in the basic tier were the same content available on Librivox (a service that offers free public domain audiobooks). Others are saying that, with the new, higher price,  Audible is a better deal.

Subscription service Scribd made many similar choices in February and March of 2016 and it cost them a lot of subscribers. Scribd culled many of its popular genres (like the romance and comics categories) and also divided its catalog into two tiers and limited the number of books and audiobooks subscribers could access in Selects, its premium tier.

I don’t doubt that we will hear more about this from customers. As audiobooks continue to soar in popularity, affordable access for avid listeners is going to be an even more important issue. Subscription services seem to continue to underestimate the demand for audiobooks.

The public library is looking better and better for audiobook aficionados.

Are you a Playster subscriber? What do you think?

(Thanks to Angel for the tip!)

(Note: You can read my original review of the Playster service here.)

New updates bring Audible to basic Kindle and new customization options

Today’s announcement of the all-new Kindle Oasis included big news on the integration of Audible audiobooks into the device.  Audible integration will roll out as an update when the new Oasis device ships on October 31, 2017.

Also included in the announcement was the news that the basic, entry-level Kindle (current generation 8), along with the first generation Oasis,  will also be getting Audible integration over the coming months. This may be a feature that makes the basic Kindle (which does not have a backlight) more desirable as a device for prospective owners. As noted in this post on The eBook Reader, at least according to its reviews,  the basic, entry level kindle is not well liked.

Today’s announcement also included news of new firmware updates that would add new settings for reading customization, including new font sizes, bolding options and new margin options including an option for left-aligned  /ragged right text..

The new features are:

  • New Font Size and Bold Settings: Now choose from more font sizes than ever before–and five levels of boldness–for whichever font you choose to read with. Combined with the new, 7-inch Paperwhite display, you can personalize your books so it’s perfectly comfortable for your eyes.
  • New Accessibility Options: In addition to the OpenDyslexic font, we’ve added a feature to invert black and white on the display if you have light sensitivity. The new enlarged display option also lets you increase the size of items like the text on the home screen and library as well as the book icons to make the all-new Kindle Oasis easier to read.
  • Light Settings: Built-in ambient light sensors automatically adjust the display to your surroundings whether you’re in a dimly-lit room or outside in the sun–and can be fine-tuned even further based on personal preferences.
  • Ragged Right Alignment: You can now read using left-aligned (ragged right) text.

To me, one of the most intriguing of the new features is the ability to invert black-and-white on the display for those with light sensitivity. This is generally a feature found on apps and tablets, not e-ink readers (although there is supposedly a hack for the Kobo line here.). My old Literarti e-reader had this feature, and I can tell you, being able to read white text on a black screen in a dark room Is a great feature for reading in the middle of the night without disturbing your partner! 🙂

The new firmware features will be delivered as a free over the air update to the Kindle Paperwhite and newer devices starting today.

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!

Daily Links and Deals: Libro.fm Audiobooks Now Available in 150 Indie Bookstores

daily_links_1Daily Links for Tuesday, October 25,  2016:

Celebrating 20 Years of the Internet Archive with an Open Library Feature Bonanza (Open Library) I can personally attest to the fact that using the Open Library was sometimes a challenging experience. This is welcome news.

Readers in 9 Countries Get Discounts on Arabic E-books for Emirates’ ‘Year of Reading’ (Oye! Times) This is only available in limited countries, but the discounts can be up to 90%.

Website Creating Company Faces Data Breach Affecting Over 40 Million Users (BloombergBNA) Weebly was attacked in February and over 43 million users’ info was exposed.

Logitech to release an Alexa skill for its Harmony Hub-based universal remote controls (Techhive) This is the capability that I have been waiting for!

Libro.fm Audiobooks Now Available in 150 Indie Bookstores (Digital Book World) Now you can buy audiobooks from your favorite indie bookstore.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes

In Today’s DealsCorel WordPerfect Office X8 Home & Student.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is 50% off today on the first eight books in Sui Ishida’s fan-favorite Tokyo Ghoul series. The Romance Daily Find is Claimed: An Outlaws Novel by Elle Kennedy.

Barnes and Noble also has a selection of NOOK Books Under $2.99.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Sandstorm (Sigma Force Novels) by James Rollins. The Extra Daily Deal is The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel by Tea Obreht.

Also, a selection of titles called Romance On The Ice for $4.99 or Less until October Until October 31st.

There is also a selection of Great Reads Under $5 and Bargain Reads in Fiction, in Mystery and other genres. The Kobo Aura One (and the Aura Edition 2 e-readers are now available for order at the Kobo store. (The Aura One is out of stock until November 1, 2016.)

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty.

Google Books has a selection of Halloween Horror Sale with chills & thrills under $5.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.