If you’re an audiobook addict like me, then you may have come across BookBeat while searching for your next great listen. In case you haven’t, BookBeat is a platform that offers a unique and flexible pricing structure for audiobooks that may appeal to you vs. Audible and other services. In this BookBeat review, I’ll assess all the important details of BookBeat, including the price, the user experience, and the catalog to answer the all-important question: is BookBeat worth it?
BookBeat is owned by Bonnier Books, one of Europe’s leading publishing companies. Founded in 2015, BookBeat is available in 28 European markets and has close to 700,000 monthly paying users. This review is based on my experience with the UK site BookBeat.co.uk.
The BookBeat platform lets you enjoy audiobooks from a large catalog. Sure, it isn’t quite as big as Audible but it still has a fantastic selection (more on this later).
BookBeat uses a subscription-based pricing model, starting at £5.99 a month – this option gives you 20 hours of listening per month. But you can test it out for £0 with BookBeat’s free trial period of one month with no commitments (i.e. you can cancel at any time). One great thing about BookBeat is it offers a family plan that allows multiple users to access the same account.
Besides listening in a web browser, you can also use BookBeat through their mobile app, which runs on both Android and iOs devices. The platform also offers offline, downloaded listening, which is convenient for when you don’t have access to the internet.
In summary, BookBeat is a comprehensive audiobook platform that offers a great selection of audiobooks, a user-friendly interface, and flexible subscription options making it a great option for audiobook listeners and a credible alternative to Audible.
BookBeat Pros and Cons:
Here are some BookBeat pros and cons I found:
- A wide selection of audiobooks across various genres
- Potentially more listening hours per £ than Audible, depending on the book
- Access to popular titles is not restricted based on usage, as it is with Scribd
- User-friendly interface and mobile app
- Flexible subscription options with a family plan
- Offline listening
- Ebooks also available for some titles
- The library is not as extensive as some of its competitors
- You don’t “own” selected content, unlike Audible
- The mobile app may not be as feature-rich as you want
How Does BookBeat Work?
The BookBeat platform is intuitive and easy to use. You can either sign up through your browser, or through the app. There is a one-month trial that you can use to test the service and you don’t need to pay anything to access the trial.
After you’ve signed up, you can easily explore the catalog on the website or with the mobile app to find audiobooks based on your interests or search for specific titles or authors.
When you find something you want to listen to, you can stream it directly from within the app or website itself. Alternatively, you can download audiobooks to your device and listen offline, which makes it convenient if you don’t always have access to the internet.
Any book you listen to is saved in a list in your account, which also tracks the exact place you listened up to in the book. This is a handy feature as it means you don’t have to scrub through the audiobook every time you reopen it to find your last “page”.
Each subscription tier (explained next) gives you a certain amount of monthly listening hours. This is a cool system because, unlike Audible, it lets you spread your hours across any selection of books. This means you can work your way through a couple of books at a time.
BookBeat is sometimes compared with Scribd, another popular audiobook service that doesn’t use a credit system. While Scribd does not set a limit on the number of hours you can listen, it does start to restrict content after a certain point (“throttling”). I’m a fan of both BookBeat and Scribd – which one is better for you will depend on your own personal listening habits.
Bookbeat.co.uk offers a flexible subscription model and the ability to cancel at any time. The platform’s pricing structure is competitive, with a monthly subscription fee. You can try out the service for free for 1 month with 20 hours of free listening.
BookBeat offers three different subscription pricing tiers:
- Basic – £5.99/month = 20 hours
- Standard – £9.99/month = 50 hours
- Premium – £14.99/month = 100 hours
There is also a family plan option available, which allows up to 5 users to access the same account for an additional monthly charge of £5.
These subscriptions seem fairly priced, and as outlined above, even the basic bundle may give you more listening time compared to Audible or be more cost-effective (the standard Audible Premium Plus plan is currently £7.99/month).
The standard subscription is probably the best option, as it gives you enough listening time of around 2 hours every day per month, which is enough for the average person. True audiobook addicts should find the premium sub gives enough time, with over 3 hours per day every day.
Overall, I think the pricing of BookBeat is very fair – and flexible. The catalog is big and broad, so you won’t run out of things to listen to any time soon. There is also no credit system so you are not restricted to one or two premium audiobook(s) per month as with Audible. And while Scribd does overall offer more content for a similar price, with BookBeat you can avoid the frustrations that can come with being restricted from content based on your usage.
User Experience & Mobile App
One of the notable features of Bookbeat.co.uk is its user-friendly interface. The website is easy to navigate, and you can quickly find audiobooks based on your interests or search for specific titles or authors.
Your listening positions are saved, and you can bookmark your favorite books and chapters. You can also create ‘wishlist’ type lists, where you can save books to listen to later if they catch your eye.
An excellent feature is the offline listening mode, where you can download books to listen to. This is super handy if you like to listen on the move, and don’t want to drain your mobile data.
Bookbeat.co.uk offers a mobile app available for iOS and Android devices. The app is user-friendly and allows you to download and listen to audiobooks on the go. The app also offers features such as sleep timers, bookmarks, and adjustable playback speed. Your bookmarks and listening positions are synced across mobile and web services.
However, one negative I found is the BookBeat mobile app has limited library management features compared with Audible.
Catalog and Top Titles
BookBeat has a pretty large catalog, with thousands of books to listen to. It definitely isn’t as extensive or broad as Audible, but it still has a wide range of categories and themes. You definitely won’t get stuck without things to listen to, and new titles are added often.
You can also explore the full library before paying for a sub, so you can make your own judgments on whether it has enough titles to interest you.
A neat feature is the ‘Trending’ section, which shows you some of the most popular current audiobooks. This is a great way to easily discover exciting new titles which have the community’s seal of approval.
Here are some of the best audiobooks on BookBeat I found:
- The Fellowship of the Ring – J. R. R. Tolkien
- A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
- The Hunger Games – Hunger Games 1 – Suzanne Collins
- The Age of Cats – Jonathan B. Losos
- Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
- The Crown – Robert Lacey
- Lost Girls – Robert Kolker
- The Vanishing Stair – Maureen Johnson
- Real Friends Talk About Race – Hannah Summerhill, Yseult P. Mukantabana
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
- How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Overall, Bookbeat is an excellent option for both occasional audiobook listeners and audiobook enthusiasts.
The most compelling reason to choose BookBeat is the pricing model which, depending on your listening habits, can be more flexible and cost-effective than other audiobook services.
For example, the BookBeat basic plan is cheaper than Audible’s standard Premium Plus plan making it an attractive option if you will listen to less than 20 hours per month (~40 minutes per day). And with BookBeat you can escape the credit system of Audible and many other services and instead use your hours across multiple Premium titles at once.
Audible does have some advantages, though, including the largest audiobook catalog and the evergrowing Plus catalog – if you value these Audible might be better, but otherwise, BookBeat is a great choice!