How to Build an Audiobook App

They say that today people read less than they used to, but this isn't entirely true. Actually, we just don't have much time to enjoy a good book. So their audio analogs become our salvation.

We listen to audiobooks whenever and wherever we want, at any free moment: on the way to a business meeting or to the gym, in line at a store, or while cleaning an apartment. The opportunities are endless!

Surely, you can download an audio file to your phone, but interacting with mobile applications, a kind of virtual bookshelves, is much more interesting and convenient. No wonder such programs are more popular among users year by year.

We guess it makes sense to meet the demand and consider building an app for audiobooks too, what do you think? The project has every chance to bring you profit: if you approach the matter correctly, of course. And we're ready to help you figure out the issue in question thoroughly.

What Are Audiobook Apps?

When a writer finishes work on a book, his or her agent sells the rights to convert it into an audio format to a professional studio. The studio records an audiobook and makes it available to distributors. And the owners of the suitable applications may well become them.

Why consider building an app for audiobooks?

Recently, people increasingly prefer audiobooks, choosing them instead of electronic and paper ones. And this trend is confirmed by statistics, according to which every fifth US resident enjoys them on a permanent basis.

Still further, over the past five years, the audiobook market has been growing by 16% annually, which has a positive effect on the income of its players. At least that's what the IBISWorld survey says. 

And apps for audiobooks are gaining popularity too.

Benefits of audiobook apps

Such applications provide an opportunity to… 

  • leave bookmarks and take notes to audiobooks;

  • change the speed of listening to the file at will;

  • divide audiobooks into albums, such as “Listen to this first”;

  • mark the books read;

  • select a list of recommended stories;

  • see your stats.

So, undoubtedly, the idea of audiobook app development could be very relevant and profitable.

How do these apps work?

The whole process is elementary simple and consists of several obvious steps:

  • downloading an application from App Store or Google Play (depending on which devices your users choose);

  • registration and creation of an account (there is no way without it!);

  • selection of interesting topics (although not all audiobook apps ask the user about his taste preferences);

  • viewing the catalog with audiobooks;

  • search and selection of the desired item;

  • uploading an audiobook;

  • that's it, you can start listening to the chosen audio file!

However, let's take a look at how online audiobook services work using a specific example.

Audible: a Competitor to Take an Example From

Amazon Audible's success proves without further ado that the audiobook market can be a good source of income. Let's briefly tell you about this competitor of yours.

What is Audible?

Audible is an app from Amazon, which allows users to find audiobooks and listen to them from any device of their choice.

If the user has an Amazon account, he doesn't need to additionally register in the application, Audible will take his data from there. All he needs to do is download the app and start using it. 

A book purchased from Audible is provided as a DRM-protected audio file. It can be listened to on a variety of devices, including a PC, tablet, smartphone, or even some e-books. 

In addition, Audible has unique content (Audible Originals) of its own production. 

Any successful project starts with a business plan. But how do you write it? The answers you need are available at the link in our article.

Audible app development cost isn't something to be neglected, so the company had to think through a monetization strategy. Let's discuss the issue properly.

How does Audible earn money?

The user starts with a free 30-day trial to have a chance to enjoy the key features and benefits of Audible. He is entitled to download one book and about 2 Audible Originals. Moreover, he'll keep them even if he has no desire to continue using the application.

But if the user does like the offered service, he’ll have to choose one of the paid tariffs.

audiobook app development

Effective Business Models

Now is the time to see what monetization options might help you make money on the audiobook app like Audible:

  • Subscriptions of various types:

    • a certain number of credits (similar to Audible). The more credits, the more audiobooks the user is allowed to download from your library. However, you had better give them a different name (instead of credits) to distinguish your service from a competitive one;

    • unlimited access. Simply put, the user buys a monthly subscription and gets access to all your audiobooks. You may combine this method with the above one because that's exactly what Audible does. To be precise, Audible has a Plus Collection with audiobooks available to each user (after he has connected to one of the described tariff plans) and a special premium section with content provided for credits.

  • Buying audiobooks. You can also allow using the application without payment: say, the user doesn't need to buy a subscription to find literary novelties, add them to the app basket, etc. However, if he wants to download an audio file found, he must buy it. Surely, audiobook prices may vary.

  • Advertising. Of course, in-app ads would also help monetize your service;

  • Paid content. Another good business model of audiobook apps is the provision of paid content (with the basic free one). The topic is too burning, so we’ll discuss it below, in the relevant section of our article. 

Where to get content for audiobook apps?

  • Self-production of audiobooks. Why not try your hand at making audiobooks? Though, you need to be ready to invest heavily in such a project. Becoming a part of the audiobook publishing industry is rather costly and not always advisable;

  • Special marketplaces designed to serve as a meeting place for authors, publishers, and other experts, one way or another related to the production of audio or e-books. A prime example of such a platform is the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX);

  • APIs. Plus, you may find companies providing APIs to access their audiobooks;

  • Extra content. Don't be limited to audiobooks only. Offer your users interesting articles, audio operas, etc. Be creative!

Now it's time to discuss another important issue regarding online audiobook services.

Dealing with the book copyright holders

You cannot develop an app for audiobooks and just start selling them: by doing so, you're violating copyright laws. Therefore, first, you need to figure out how to attract literary authors and solve the problem of audiobook distribution by users.

  • percentage of sales. Surely, you’ll have to share the proceeds from the sale of an audiobook with its copyright holder. Typically, you should allocate 10 to 30% of your income: in most case, it’s just enough;

  • additional payment for uniqueness. 1-30% is really enough to satisfy the copyright holder of the book… but not when it is only available on your platform. Uniqueness costs money, alas;

  • the ability to share the app content. If a user likes a book, he may want to share it with his friends via email and various messengers, and Audible makes that possible. Of course, service owners have to pay copyright holders so that they don't resent such distribution of an audio file, but the game is worth the candle. And if you want to develop an audiobook app like Audible, you should emulate the best.

audiobook applications like Audible

Key features of audiobook applications like Audible

audiobook market

User Features

  • Check-in. Firstly, you need a registration feature. Audible makes the whole sign-up process very easy: if the user has an Amazon account, all the info comes from there. And you may invite him to login using social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

  • User profile. When the user has successfully registered, he gets access to his personal account with basic information about him, including his literary habits and previous operations with audiobooks.

  • Audiobooks catalog. It'll allow the user to see which literary pieces of the audiobook market you're offering him to read. Also, it would be wise to divide the catalog into convenient thematic sections.

  • Search. If a quick glance at the audiobook catalog yields nothing, the user might need a search feature. And of course, don't forget about filters and sorting, so that the user has a chance to clarify his requirements for the desired bookish item.

  • Audiobook description. Before a user downloads or buys a found audiobook (depending on your business model), he must make sure it's exactly what he wants. Therefore, you have to supplement each instance of your audiobook collection with a short description and allow users to view it.

  • Adding a book to a user's library. If the description satisfies the potential reader, he must add the selected audiobook to his own library. 

    • By the way, this feature is one of the best in Audible. The user gets the audiobook in his possession forever, even if the subscription is canceled, he'll keep it. Cool, isn't it? Do the same if you want to develop an audiobook app like Audible and become its successful competitor.

  • Audiobook playback control. Now is the time to listen to audiobooks, right? So you can't do without a playback feature. It’s about the ability to play, stop, or pause an audiobook, as well as move forward or backward faster.

  • Bookmarks. When dealing with a regular paper book, you can always fold the page where you stopped reading, or put a bookmark between the pages. Audiobook applications should provide the same opportunity. So make sure the user is able to mark the place that interests him.

  • Background playback. Users especially appreciate online audiobook services, which allow them to listen to files in the background. it’s about situations when one is able to write a message or interact with a smartphone in another way and listen to an audiobook at the same time.

  • Sharing audiobooks. Do you want to repeat the key features of Audible applications? Then give your users the possibility to share audiobooks with friends. You may have to pay a percentage to the authors of literary writings (like Audible is doing), but you already know it: we've discussed the matter earlier. 

  • Payments. Whatever business model you choose, the user will have to transfer a certain amount of money to you from time to time, whether it be buying audiobooks or renewing a subscription. So the Payment feature would definitely come in handy.

  • Ratings and Reviews. You can greatly simplify the audiobook selection process by adding ratings and reviews. So users would have a chance to share their impressions of a certain literary work with each other. Consider this when planning your audiobook app development process.  

  • Push notifications, which are a great way to inform users about important things, such as: 

    • expansion of the library with a new audiobook;

    • the approach of the time of the subscription renewal;

    • etc.

  • Social media integration. Users will be able to share the news of your service with friends, and you'll get an additional promotion based on the word of mouth effect.

Are you fond of reading? Then you'll love our Bookis project. Follow the link to get a deeper look at it.

Admin Features

When building an app for audiobooks, it's also important to create features targeted at the admins of your platform. These people will manage the application, including subscriptions, money transactions, users, and content.

Of course, admins should have a higher level of access to functionality than ordinary users, fans of audiobooks. Hence arise the set of features we offer (see infographic above).

Premium Features

Premium features are provided to users for additional payment and needed to better monetize the platform. Among other things, they'll help you quickly recoup your project expenses (after all, the Audible app development cost is rather high!).

  • Playback speed control. Some users may prefer to listen to audiobooks at a lower playback speed in order to better assimilate the material. And some of them, on the contrary, might choose to increase their playback speed. This feature will help them get what they want.

  • Returning audiobooks. Amazon Audible allows users to return audiobooks they don't like (albeit only within the 1st year of purchase). Perhaps you should follow the example of a successful market player and create the same feature.

  • Supplementing the audio sequence with text. Audiobook applications like Audible must provide a special immersive storytelling feature (as your competitor offers such an option). You just need to accompany the audio story with text, and the desired effect is likely to be achieved.

  • Compatibility with different devices. It would be nice if your application made it possible to play audiobooks on any device your user considers convenient.

  • Automatically stop playing audiobooks. Many users love reading a book before going to bed or listening to its audio analog. And if you can't help them with paper books, audiobook apps give better flexibility. Say, why not add the possibility to automatically stop the playback process at a specified moment?

  • Greater access to the author and book information. We’re talking about an interview with a writer, news about a book, and other interesting facts.

The Cost of Development of an Audiobook App like Audible

This kind of project is expensive, so be prepared to fork out. And although you won't be able to save a lot (at least, if you want to get a decent result), it's quite possible to somehow reduce your expenses. 

Let's see what affects the development budget:

  • Application functionality. The more ideas you plan to implement, the more money you need to invest in the project. Also, the cost is influenced by the complexity of the features;

  • Audiobook app development approach. You can create a mobile application from scratch and make it fully consistent with your wishes. However, it’s easier and cheaper to use ready-made solutions;

  • Application type. Users are divided into Android and iOS ones (depending on their preferred devices). And it is one thing to develop a native application for each platform, and quite another is to build a Hybrid program, which will be compatible with different operating systems. The second method, of course, is less expensive;

  • Company rates. You'll have to hire a team to develop an audiobook application, you cannot cope with the task on your own. And bear in mind that eminent agencies have higher rates. In addition, the rate depends on the location of the developers (USA and UK are the most expensive options);

  • Marketing and support. Any mobile application is a living organism requiring constant care (and associated costs). And don't forget about marketing: in the end, popular audiobook services become demanded not without a reason, their owners are making a lot of efforts to promote them.

If you hire developers from Eastern Europe (their services are cheaper with high quality) and create an MVP product, you'll need to invest approximately $15-25K. The prices are very rough, but you now have a general idea.

Audible App Development cost

We’ve discussed all the important issues, including the cost of development of an audiobook app like Audible, it's time to get down to business.

Our Agilie team is experienced and knows everything about digital development. And we're willing to prove our professionalism in practice.


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