I don’t have a smartphone or PDA. I have a small black and silver cell phone with no bells or whistles, and an old generation iPod Nano. Since the public library is not as convenient as having thousands of books at your fingertips, I’ve been feeling a little jealous lately of all the book app options for iPhones and iPod Touches. There are 324 apps under the “Books” category of the App store, some of which allow you to read a book, some to listen. Since my iPod limits me to listening, I searched audiobook options for plain ol’ iPods.
I searched three authors’ titles:
- Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen). I counted 12 unabridged English audio books for Pride and Prejudice. Prices ranged from $9.95 to $24.95. I could not tell from the iTunes profiles what the price discrepancy comes from. The length of most was between 11 and 13 hours.
- Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling). The United States versions of the first six books are available. In this case, prices make a little more sense: the first book is the least expensive, at $32.95, while the sixth is the most, at $49.95. The rest fall predictably in-between.
- Twilight series (Stephenie Meyer). These enormously popular books are also on the pricier side: the first is in at $28.95, the fourth and last at $35.95.
Except in the case of Pride and Prejudice, these audio books cost far more than I would normally want to spend on a hard-copy book. How do they compare to the rest of the market? Well, Barnes and Noble offers the seventh Harry Potter book for $14.99 list price and $11.24 online price (plus shipping costs). However, their audiobook of the same title costs $79.95 list price and $63.96 online price! Wow! I had no idea audiobooks were so expensive.
In terms of cost, then, audiobooks from the iTunes store are a good bargain. Still, not as good as what’s offered on the App store. The iTunes audiobook selection is not vast: In the “classics” category I counted only 105 books, some of which were doubles. Certainly 100-ish books are a lot to read, but the number just doesn’t compare to the thousands of titles offered by many book apps on the App store. Apps like these often cost less than an audiobook, and offer more titles, such as Classics. Better than the Kindle too in some ways, although the Kindle probably has even better selection than the App store. Ultimately, my three-year-old iPod Nano just can’t compete.