The growing popularity of audiobooks reflects our increasingly busy lifestyles; now you can get your literary fix even when you’re jogging, driving or doing the dishes.
It is not a new phenomenon though. In the US, ‘talking books’ for blind adults have been around since the 1930s. Towards the end of the 20th century, professional actors began narrating audiobooks and took the listening experience to another level.
The advent of digital downloads to our personal devices gave audiobooks a further boost from which they have never looked back.
Now, we have Audible, a free audiobook app on your Nokia Lumia for all those occasions when you would prefer to listen than to read.
Audible, an Amazon company, is one of the world’s largest providers of digital audiobooks. Through their Windows Phone app you can listen to over 100,000 different titles ranging from contemporary best sellers, language guides and the classics.
The app is free to download, however, you will need to subscribe to their service or pay for audiobooks individually. In the UK, subscriptions are £3.99 for one download per month, or expect to pay about £15+ per book.
Upon installing the app, you can listen to eight excerpts for free before you need to commit any money.
There are four mains screens to the app: my library, shop, news and stats. You will mostly be using the library, where you listen to your audiobooks, or the shop to browse and buy books.
Shopping in Audible’s mobile store can be done by searching for a title or browsing through categories by genre, new releases or best sellers.
Listening to audiobooks
Tapping on a book in your library takes you through to the listening player. Here, you can swipe across to look the book details, rate it, skip to a chapter or skip to a bookmark that you have inserted.
The player is extremely intuitive to use and there are a couple of nice little touches as well.
- If your mind was wandering, then you can skip back 30 seconds with a touch of a button
- You can set up bookmarks
- Pin the book to the start screen
- Share it on your social networks
- Sleep function: time the app to switch itself off at 15-minute intervals or when you get to the end of the chapter. If you like listening to audiobooks in bed, then this feature is for you.
Another innovative feature is called button free. This lets you control the listening experience by swiping the screen rather than pressing any buttons.
The controls are:
- Tap anywhere to play
- Swipe right to skip forward 30 seconds
- Swipe left to rewind 30 seconds
- Swipe vertically to add a bookmark
Badges and reading levels
Within the app’s settings you can choose a light or dark theme, select “WiFi downloads only” if you are concerned about data usage, choose standard or quality download formats and adjust the duration of the rewind button (default is 30 seconds).
Finally, there is the stats screen where you can monitor your listening usage, collect badges and work towards raising your listening level to that of the ‘app master.’
It’s a bit of fun, although I am not sure how useful the stats are or if users will take the badge collecting seriously. Even so, this is a really strong app that has been well thought out for the Windows Phone interface.
Download Audible for free from the Windows Phone Marketplace for your Nokia Lumia.