If you’re on Bookstagram or BookTok at all, you’ve probably heard of Book of the Month or seen their iconic blue box. It’s probably one of the biggest book clubs out there, with 1.3 million followers on Instagram. And although we don’t know for sure, it’s estimated they have nearly 250,000 subscribers to their book membership. Suffice it to say, they have a huge following and a captivated audience. So when they announced they were offering audiobooks earlier in 2023, the response was huge.
As a member of Book of the Month for over 6 years, and an audiobook lover, I was really excited when I heard they were finally offering audiobooks to their customers. In this comprehensive review, I’ll cover what Book of the Month is, the ins and outs of their new audiobook offering, and what you can expect from the app. Are Book of the Month audiobooks worth it? Let’s dive in.
What is Book of the Month?
Book of the Month (or BOTM) is a popular subscription-based book club; subscribers can choose from five to seven curated hardcover selections each month, in addition to new add-ons and previous selections. Each subscriber can ship one box a month; newer members can add up to two add-ons a month, while seasoned members (called BFFs) can now add up to four add-ons a month, in addition to their monthly pick. They also offer bookish merchandise and, now, audiobooks.
Book of the Month is actually a lot older than many people think. It was founded in 1926 in New York City by Harry Scherman, a copywriter for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. It was a wildly successful mail order service, and a book chosen as a Book of the Month Club selection was marketed as such to the general public, often to much success. Time Inc. purchased the brand in 1977, and in 2000, the club merged with Doubleday Direct, and jumped from many different owners after that. But in 2015, an online rebrand and relaunch was announced, marking the beginning of the club as it’s known today.
When did Book of the Month start offering audiobooks?
In May 2023, Book of the Month announced their audiobook offering for US subscribers. The announcement on their website and social media was brief:
You heard that right: We now curate hardcovers and audiobooks for our members to choose from each month.
You can now use the same subscription to get a hardcover or audiobook, so you can pick the reading format that’s right for you each month. Members can purchase and listen to audiobooks right in the BOTM app. Plus, with our audiobook Ear-nings program, you’ll earn one free credit for every five audiobooks you get.
In the Book of the Month app, a new tab was added—”Listen”—for subscribers to browse audiobooks and add them to their library by using an account credit.
Which titles are included in Book of the Month’s catalog?
Although it’s not entirely clear how the audiobooks are selected and which are newer than others, it does appear that not all of the hardcover book selections are represented in the audiobook catalog, and vice versa. Similarly to how there are new selections each month for hardbacks, it seems there are new selections for audiobooks, too—and these choices don’t necessarily overlap.
If you’re just looking to browse the catalog, the app is helpful. But if you’re looking for a specific title or author, navigating the app becomes more difficult. You can browse all available audiobooks at once, but you can’t search for keywords, a title, or an author; you can only filter by debut authors and repeat authors (authors selected by Book of the Month in the past).
The sorting feature is also lacking, with options to sort alphabetically by author or title, sort by recently added, and by whether or not a selection is a Book of the Month selection. It’s unclear what this last criterion means, but we can assume it means whether or not an audiobook is also a hardcover selection.
When you go to an individual audiobook to learn more information about it, the listing doesn’t provide the name of the narrator or narrators, the length of the audiobook, or any reviews from fellow subscribers. The review section on hardcover listings is one of my favorite features, so it’s disappointing to see it omitted here. Length and narrator credit seem like obvious inclusions, but they are also omitted for now.
One feature I do love about audiobook listings on the app are the previews. Many, if not all, of the preview clips are around 6 minutes long—much longer than other audiobook services. I was able to get a real sense of whether or not I would enjoy the story and narration with this length.
How much do audiobooks on Book of the Month cost?
As of July 2023, Book of the Month audiobooks can only be purchased with an account credit. This is different from hardcovers, where you have to use a credit for your monthly choice, but can choose to use a credit or pay separately for add-ons.
Book of the Month’s audiobook service does introduce a new reward system: for every audiobook you purchase in the app, you receive one “ear-ning” (or two “ear-nings” if your choice is a hardcover selection for the current month). When you get five ear-nings, you receive a free account credit—which you can use on either another audiobook or a hardcover. There is currently no limit to how many ear-nings or free credits you can earn with this reward structure.
How do you listen to BOTM audiobooks?
You can only listen to BOTM audiobooks in the iOS or Android app. Before you listen to the audiobook, it’s downloaded to your app so you can listen to it anytime.
When listening to an audiobook, you can skip forward or go back by 15 seconds, jump to a specific section or chapter, and change the speed to 0.5x, 0.8x, 1x, 1.2x, 1.5x, or 2x. You also don’t need to have the app open on your screen; like many audiobook apps, you can do other things on your phone while listening to the audiobook in the background.
Book of the Month’s app also allows you to set a sleep timer for either 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, or 2 hours. However, you can never see how much of the sleep timer is left after you’ve set it, and when it ends, the audiobook just pauses suddenly with no further acknowledgment of the sleep timer.
The audio quality of the audiobooks is great, but the app is very slow when one is playing and can be frustrating to use. Attempting to change the settings while an audiobook was playing made the app lag significantly, sometimes even ignoring button presses entirely.
Verdict: Are Book of the Month audiobooks worth it?
Audiobooks were a long-awaited, long-overdue offering for the popular book club. If you’re already a Book of the Month member, audiobooks are a nice change of pace from the typical offerings. I did appreciate the size of the catalog, especially for such a new offering, and there was enough genre variety to always get something new and different.
If you aren’t already a Book of the Month member and would only be interested in the audiobook offering, though, I would recommend you pass and use a dedicated app like Libro.fm, Scribd, or Audible. For audiobook-only readers, Book of the Month doesn’t provide anything unique that you can’t get with a smoother app elsewhere.
Book of the Month FAQs
Are you a Book of the Month member like me? Are you interested in their audiobook offering, or would you rather pass? Let me know in the comments!