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Google Play Books curiously puts audiobook previews on YouTube

1 month ago 180

Updates to Play Books are on the rare side these days, though it got a Material You redesign in March, but Google today is highlighting four new features, including a YouTube integration.

For starters, Play Books is making official the “Upcoming” top tab in the Library section. It joins Your books, Shelves, and Series to show “all your pre-orders in one location on a calendar that can be filtered based on specific series or authors.” 

Available on the Android app, Google will also surface pre-orders from authors and series that “you’ve shown interest in.” This includes titles you’ve previously searched and viewed. Upcoming has been around for sometime now, and has been pretty useful in my experience.

One big focus for Play Books as of late is the kids and family experience, which is now letting them “earn Reading Rewards digital stickers when reading children’s books.” This applies to Play Books for Android and the Google Kids Space experience on tablets. 

Reading Rewards are granted when kids reach a reading goal or milestone. From the Kid Reader toolbar, kids can easily access their “Prizes” and track all the stickers they’ve collected.

Similarly, Google has a “newly expanded selection of over 300 nonfiction ebooks” that are free and feature Read & Listen to let you “hear the entire ebook read out loud while the pages turn automatically.”

Finally, Google Play Books now has a YouTube channel where it uploaded “thousands” of free audiobook previews. This is an interesting approach as audiobooks in Play Books can already be previewed inside the app, which Google acknowledged today:

All of these samples are already available in the Google Play Books store via the Android app, iOS app and web so you also have the option to listen there.

Yet, we now have these previews and some are over an hour in length. It’s pitched as helping boost discovery.

It’s unclear whether this is a sign of things to come. Given the push to consolidate Google’s media services into YouTube as started with Play Music and then Podcasts, I wonder if audiobooks are next.

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