For the longest time, I used to be steadfast in my belief that reading does not count as reading if it is not done the traditional way, that is, reading physical books. Only paperbacks and hardcovers, nothing else would do it for me; or so I thought. I never considered that I would break through these self-constructed barriers and evolve as a reader, but I am happy that I was able to prove myself wrong. I did grow, albeit slowly, from paperbacks and hardcovers to ebooks.
The sheer convenience of being able to read books anywhere, anytime, without having to go to a bookstore or wait impatiently for a book delivery was enough to convince me. Now that I got through the first hurdle, it was only a matter of time before I decided to dip my toes into the world of audiobooks. This was not an easy transition, and it took time, but after getting into audiobooks, I knew that there was no turning back. Audiobooks are popular all over the world nowadays, right from The Holy Bible to the Harry Potter series.
I started listening to audiobooks for a very simple reason. A friend of mine gave me a coupon code for a three months free trial of an audiobook app. And I was like, why not! That was all it took for me to get hooked on audiobooks. Right from the get-go, I fell in love with the experience. It was super convenient, and I could listen to stories anywhere, anytime. Best of all, I could make the tedious everyday chores seem not so mundane by putting on my headphones and diving into the world of fiction as I set about to do the tasks.
I played around with different audiobook apps and have now come to the conclusion that Storytel is my go-to app for audiobooks. If you are interested in finding the reason, go ahead and read my Storytel experience along with a summarisation of the different features that make this app indispensable (in my opinion) for audiobook lovers. Most people get confused that Storytel is an Indian company, but no, they are a Stockholm-based service.
1. It Is Light On Your Wallet
One of the best things about audiobooks is that they are very inexpensive. With the Storytel Premium plan, once you become a member, you can listen to as many books as you want to. You can choose between two plans, Select and Unlimited. With the Select plan, you can listen to books in more than ten Indian languages, excluding English titles. With the Unlimited plan, you get access to both Indian as well as English titles. Both these plans have three payment options – for Select, it ranges from monthly, six months, to twelve months, and for Unlimited, it runs from monthly, three months, and twelve months. If you are unsure about which plan to choose, you can do a three-day free trial.
Once you have subscribed, you can listen to as many books as you want to for free. You do not have to pay for the audiobooks individually on top of the subscription. I have subscribed to the Storytel Unlimited plan with a 12-month membership and highly recommend it. I have listened to over 70 books using this plan for a fraction of what it would have cost me if I had otherwise chosen to read the books the traditional way.
Note: They also have Family and Family Plus subscription plans for other countries.
2. Tailored To Your Needs
Storytel’s home page is dedicated to making its members find their next read easier. In my experience, I have often added my next read from the home page only. It tracks the books that I have listened to and presents me with a selection of books that I might like based on my reading preferences. More often than not, the choices are a perfect fit. If not, I just add them to my bookshelf to be listened to in leisure another day. You can also keep track of the new releases and the trending titles du jour via the home page.
Now that we are getting close to the release of the movie Ponniyin Selvan I, my home page is filled with Ponniyin Selvan series titles in audiobook and ebook format. Also, following the recent attack on author Salman Rushdie, his books are being recommended under the Trending Titles option. It also makes a list of the categories you tend to choose from and almost exclusively shows books from that category, as I mention, again and again, making it easier to find the next book. If you are not interested in personalized recommendations, you can turn it off by going to profile, clicking settings, privacy, and then turning off the notifications.
Another thing that I like about this app is the ease of use. It is almost effortless to manage, cancel or change your subscription plan with this app. You can change language preferences, privacy settings, download settings, and make the app show only audiobooks or only ebooks, at the drop of a hat, without having to contact customer support (I think this is a good thing for both parties). There are many more features available to make the listening/reading experience great for the readers. You can also play around with changing the app theme. I am someone who loves dark backgrounds, so my background settings are always dark. If that is not to your taste, then you can change it to light or alternate, whatever floats your boat.
3. Spoilt For Choice
That feeling when you realize that your phone contains a vast library with over 350,000 titles – that can be accessed anywhere, anytime – can only be described as euphoric. Storytel left me spoilt for choices. There are numerous genres to choose from, like – Original Series, Ebooks, Travel with Storytel, Children, Personal Development, Economy and Business, Fiction, Classics, Romance, Religion and Spirituality, Biographies, Crime, Thrillers, Short stories, Non-fiction, Language, History, Teens and Young Adult, Fantasy and SciFi, Poetry and Drama, and Erotica. What’s more, there are a lot of Original stories exclusive to Storytel.
I can select any book I want to listen to at the moment and then switch to another book if I am not feeling it, at no additional cost (really, I cannot stress this point enough). In the past one and half years since I have been using Storytel, I have noticed that my reading fluctuates a lot. Currently, I am listening to an Agatha Christie book, and my listening history ranges from historical fiction, romance, horror, thriller, and so on. There are summaries for every title, along with audio samples, reviews, and tags to describe the book. Similar titles are listed below, making selecting the next book an easier task. You can also Browse Language Section and go to the search box, which is already filtered according to Top, Books, Authors, and Narrators. Easy to search, easy to listen/read.
4. Explore Stories In Your Mothertongue
Almost every Indian is multilingual or bilingual; at least, we are hard pressed to be anything else due to our linguistic diversity. I can speak four languages fluently, but when it comes to reading, I can only read in two languages that are English and Tamil. These languages do not include my mother tongue, Telugu. I have always wanted to read stories in my mother tongue, but unfortunately, I lack the skills to do that.
That is when I realized how beneficial audiobooks are for those who wish to read stories in their mother tongue but are unable to do so. Storytel offers titles in more than ten regional languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Odia, Gujarati, Marathi, Assamese, Bengali, and Urdu. I can now listen to Telugu stories without my lack of reading skills being a hindrance. This also works for others like me.
Not just regional languages, there is a little something for everyone who is trying to learn new languages. At present, I am learning Spanish, and audio skills are a key component of learning a language. There are numerous titles available that help me familiarise myself with Spoken Spanish. I have been listening to many beginners level Spanish audiobooks that have been really helping in improving my listening, communication, and pronunciation skills.
5. Listen To Stories Anywhere, Anytime
I travel between two cities constantly, so I don’t always have a reliable internet connection. I did not want my storytime to be interrupted due to network connectivity issues. Fortunately, I need not worry about internet connection or the lack thereof. I simply download the titles that I plan to listen to when I am traveling, and I carry on with my journey, storytime uninterrupted. I feel that this feature is a life-saver for people who live in places with unpredictable internet connections, or whose internet pack is limited and data speed is slow. One can go on reading… I mean listening, internet or no internet.
Speaking of listening to stories while traveling, there’s a feature called Travel with Storytel that you can use to find out stories to listen to on the go! According to the travel time, there are four categories to select from, namely – One Hour, Two Hours, Under Six Hours, and Under Fifteen Hours. Each type has a list of audiobooks in accordance with its duration. No pauses or fast forwards are necessary; you can finish a book in one sitting before arriving at your destination.
6. Best Of Both Worlds
Speaking about books, I would be remiss not to mention that this app has an extensive ebook collection as well, apart from audiobooks. And some books have the indubitable honor of being available in both audiobook and ebook format. It is fun to read on the Storytel eReader (Ebook Reader) and listen to a book at the same time.
It was slightly jarring at first, but I managed to make a go of it by adjusting the listening speed to match my reading speed, and doing this elevated my reading experience and made the book come alive. Bonus, I also learned the correct pronunciation of certain words and names. There are also options for people who are not into books but love audio content, such as Podcasts. If you are a Podcast person, there are a lot of choices accessible to you. There’s something for everyone!
7. What’s On Your Bookshelf?
All the books that you have added will appear on your Bookshelf. My Bookshelf currently has over 100 books, with only one-third of them being completed. According to personal preference, it is simple to Sort Book List and Filter Book List, making the listening/ reading experience simple and uncomplicated.
Speaking of listening experience, if you are the type to annotate your books while reading, and feel that you will be missing out on it with audiobooks, fret not! You can use the Bookmark option to bookmark a particular point in the story and write a note under it. You can make as many notes and bookmarks as you like, and every time you click on the Bookmark, it will take you back to that point in the audiobook. All in all, I consider it to be a good tradeoff for physical books.
8. Need For Speed
I have always been a moderately fast reader, and listening to audiobooks only reaffirmed that belief. The default Listening Speed for Storytel is 1.00x, but this speed never works out for me. Thankfully, I can edit the speed according to my preference. My usual listening speed is between 1.75x to 2.00x.
If you are someone whose listening speed exceeds the maximum default speed of 2.00x, you can increase the speed by selecting the Edit custom speed option and setting your preferred speed. The speed limit extends till 3.5x because anything more than that and the only thing you’ll be listening to is a high momentum volley of words akin to an unintelligible rap song (is there any other kind of rap song, though!)
👉 Recommended Reading: Would Studying Be More Fun With Audiobooks? 🎧 + 📚
9. Track Your Reading
For those who are eternally curious about their reading habits, like me, the Statistics feature helps to keep us updated. I started listening to audiobooks on Storytel last April, and over the span of a year and four months, I have listened to 80 books and spent a total of 664 hours (Yikes!) on this app. Not just that, the reading data is split up into two, the Last 30 Days and the Last 7 Days. You can also find out the preferable time period between which you love listening to books, and for me that appears to be weekday afternoons.
Chances are that you already know what type of books you prefer to read or listen to, but it doesn’t hurt to get affirmation. According to Storytel, I am The fiction fanatic, and I accept that title with pride. Lastly, you can learn how the books that you commonly gravitate towards are perceived by the other readers based on how they have described them. My top five books are described as Cozy, Heartwarming, Page-turner, Unpredictable and Thrilling!
I do not have many reading goals, apart from the annual Goodreads Reading Goal, but recently, when I came across the Listening Goal feature on Storytel, I decided to give it a try. I chose my goal timeline as 30 days and five books to be listened to within that time period, which I consider to be doable. So far, I have completed one book, with only four more to go. Yay me! If you are someone who likes to keep a lot of reading goals, then this feature is for you. Have fun! There’s just this one thing, though; books read in kid’s mode will not be counted towards the goal.
10. Books Have Feelings Too!
And no, I am not just saying that! This is an actual feature available on Storytel. Once you have finished reading a book, a pop-up of emojis, with a one-word description of the feelings they are supposed to emote, appear on your screen. You select the feeling that you relate most with the book you have currently finished listening to, and this helps the books to be categorized accordingly and makes it easier for the other listeners to make their choice.
I have just finished listening to the Agatha Christie book and have selected the Page-turner emoji for it, as it truly was a page-turner sans the pages. You need not stop with just feelings, and you can also Tap To Rate the books and Review them. After that, a list of Suggestions with Similar books to the one that you finished reading pops out. All these features are optional, and you do not have to partake in them if you’re not inclined to do so. You can check out your reviews on your Profile by selecting the My Reviews option.
11. Bed Time Story Time
I have always wanted to fall asleep listening to stories. Alas, after the age of five, no one deemed me worthy enough of bedtime stories. But sad flashback aside, for people like me who would love to listen to stories as they sleep, there is an option to do just that, setting a Sleep timer.
Set the sleep timer according to your sleeping schedule and get lulled into a state of unconsciousness while listening to your favorite book. And if you end up sleeping much before the sleep timer goes off, without listening to even one word, it is very easy to just rewind the book according to the time elapsed on the sleep timer. I tell this from experience.
12. Sharing Is Caring
Once in a while, as I am reading, I feel the need to share a book with a friend because I think they might like it too. I do just that by using the Share option and sending it to a friend or directly sharing it on my social media of preference. It does not matter if the friend in question does not have Storytel.
It can be remedied by using the Give your friend a free trial option. They can use your link and sign up for a 30-day free trial subscription. I started my audiobook journey by using a free trial link sent by a friend, and you can do the same for your friend, too, giving them a new experience. You know what they say; sharing is caring!
13. Storytel Enthusiast Program
The Storytel Enthusiast Program is a recent feature of this app that I have come across. This program will allow you to get access to the new features on the Storytel app before anyone else. You may participate in surveys that will be sent from time to time, help to improve the features before they are released by doing a trial and reporting the issues to the Storytel team; all this to create an optimal Storytel experience for the other users. I have joined the program, but have not yet been a part of any new feature trial as of the time of writing this article. This is a voluntary program and is not a requirement, and you can leave anytime you want to.
In short, is the Storytel subscription worthwhile? Yes, absolutely. As you can see, I am a full-fledged Storytel enthusiast and have made it my duty to recommend it to anyone looking to give audiobooks a try. I have written about some of the reasons why I love using Storytel based on my experience as a user, but you don’t just rely on my words. Go on and try Storytel to find out some of the reasons why you love using the app because discovering it on your own is half the fun, right!
Here is our experiene and review of Storytel - audiobooks (and ebooks) subscription app. This is available for Android and iOS. They also have a free trial.
Operating System: Android, iOS
Application Category: Audiobooks
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