The best thing about Bardowl, touted as a Spotify for audiobooks, is its name. Partly because it lets them have a cute animal logo but mostly because the press pack reveals it was dreamt up by the founder’s wife after a Specials reunion concert.
It works like this: users pay £9.99 a month for unlimited access to Bardowl’s library of audiobooks, which they stream via their iPhone or iPad. And, yes, you can listen offline. At the moment it’s limited to business and self-help titles – How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis, Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies, that sort of thing – but later this year it will start to offer fiction and a wider selection of non-fiction.
The main difference between Bardowl and its main rival, Amazon-owned Audible, is that you’re streaming rather than downloading – there’s no need to invest in a whole audiobook and you can dip in and out of as many titles as you like. Bardowl also lets you share soundbites on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, though I’m not sure why anyone would want to do that.
Its app (which you can try free for a week) is a bit of a drain on the iPhone battery but is amazingly easy to use, and, once the range expands, should be well worth the subscription fee. For Bardowl to take off, though, it will have to overcome a little image problem, summed up by the top FAQ on Audible’s website: “Are audiobooks not just for the elderly and the blind?” Not at all, they answer, before offering some enlightening advice: “Unlike reading, you can listen to a book while doing other things, like household chores, walking, cooking and commuting to and from work.”
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