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Kobo Audiobooks review

Kobo is one of the most affordable audiobook providers out there, and has a good range of titles too.

Kobo Audiobooks review
(Image: © Kobo audiobooks)

Our Verdict

Kobo is one of the cheapest audiobook providers today, and it has a superb selection, with over 100,000 titles. If only the app was a little better.

For

  • Affordable monthly subscription
  • Huge audiobook library
  • Keep downloads for life

Against

  • App is slow
  • Search functionality is poor

With over 100,000 titles, Kobo has one of the largest ranges of audiobooks for you to browse and buy. For $12.99 per month, you get one store credit to exchange for any listed audiobook on the website, regardless of its shelf price. Plus, once you’ve downloaded an audiobook to the app, it’s yours to keep forever.

Newcomers can take advantage of the 30-day free trial and earn one store credit in the extensive eBook store, where readers are certainly spoilt for choice. Kobo has a huge collection of eBooks, magazines, podcasts, and newspapers – including bestsellers and recent releases. 

Once you’ve purchased a book and downloaded it to the app, it can be accessed offline from anywhere, whether your preferred reading spot is your local park, the bus, or cosied up in bed. The app is also packed with countless features all geared towards the most seamless listening experience, including adjustable speeds, night mode, and customisable fonts. It's definitely among the best audiobook services today, and you should seriously consider signing up, although its library isn't quite as extensive as Audible.

Kobo: Membership and price 

Kobo

(Image credit: Kobo)

Kobo has one of the cheapest memberships of all audiobook providers. The basic subscription is an attractive $12.99 per month, cheaper than a membership with big dog Audible, which will set you back by $14.99 per month. That's a big plus point for Kobo. Membership gets you with one credit per month to spend on any book available on site

This is regardless of the listed price, so you could bag yourself a $30 book for just a fraction of the price you’d pay in a bookstore. If you’re still hungry for more, there’s  the option to buy three instant store credits for $29.99. Alternatively, there’s also a small section of free books on the app for light reading.

Like most audiobook services, Kobo offers a free 30-day trial so you can decide for yourself if it’s the right service for you, long before you commit. Best of all, the subscription can be cancelled anytime and you’ll still get to keep your downloads forever, so you’ll always be able to listen to the stories you've already downloaded.

Kobo: Library size and variety 

Kobo has a large range of titles, but not quite the biggest. It has in excess off 100,000 audiobooks, which compares to Audible’s 200,000, and 150,000 provided by Audiobook.com. If you prefer to read text, instead of listening, then you'll find around six million eBooks on here, which is plenty. Kobo also houses magazines, PDFs, and newspapers to satisfy all reading tastes, and a selection of 45 podcasts for the ultimate listening experience.

In the app, you can read other Kobo users’ reviews or become a critic by creating your own – so you’ll know for sure if a read is worth your time.

Kobo

(Image credit: Kobo)

Kobo: App and website

As soon as you purchase an audiobook from the Kobo desktop store, it can be downloaded onto the free downloadable app available on Android and Apple smartphone devices or tablets.

Unfortunately, Kobo audiobooks are not compatible with Kobo desktop or the website, nor in the Kobo app for Windows or Blackberry. So if you don’t listen on smart devices and would prefer to use a PC, you should consider downloading audiobooks to your desktop with a different provider.

The Kobo app has an impressive range of features. You can choose to read eBooks in portrait or landscape mode, and customize your font type and size to make sure the reading is easy on your eyes. As with most apps, you can adjust the listening speed of your audiobooks, and there’s also the option to set a sleep timer if you’re prone to dozing through late-night listens.

With personalized recommendations based on your reading habits, the app is geared towards your preferences. There’s an insightful page dedicated to your listening stats, so you can learn all about your personal audio habits. Your library is divided into authors or series’, and you can create a wishlist or organize downloaded books into personalized collections so you can return to your favorites later.

While the app is packed with plenty of handy features, we found the app to be quite slow, especially when using its search function to discover new titles. One other downside to its extensive tools is that the app can seem tricky to get to grips with at first. It’s not as minimalist as other audiobook apps - take Blinkist, for example.

We also found its search function to be pretty basic. If you search for podcasts, the query churns up a plethora of audiobooks on podcasts rather than the podcasts themselves.

Kobo

(Image credit: Kobo)

Kobo: Support and exchange

Kobo’s dedicated support page is extensive and answers all basic technical questions, including how to change account settings and troubleshoot.

There’s a basic live chat, which first uses a bot to answer your question, and then directs you to a customer service advisor if your enquiry is unsuccessful.

Kobo also has a Facebook page and Twitter @kobohelp dedicated to customer support, showing that they’re committed to the ultimate user experience.

However, unlike Audible, the site has no option for book exchange if you’re unhappy with your purchase. If you change your mind, you can cancel your order within 14 days of the purchase date, but only if you haven’t accessed the digital content. Once you’ve started reading, you’re tied in.

Should you subscribe to Kobo?

Kobo has a great selection of titles, and a low price of admission, so whether you’re a seasoned listener or you just want to try audiobooks for the first time, you’ll certainly be spoilt for choice. The fact that you can keep your books after your subscription lapses is good, although most providers do offer this.

The app’s wide range of features may be confusing for some but it ultimately delivers a seamless listening experience. Overall, Kobo is a good choice for the average reader and at an affordable price tag.