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How to listen to Audiobooks on Kindle Paperwhite

Sometimes I just want to sit back and listen to books being read. Fortunately, the Kindle can read aloud audiobooks quite well. Here’s how:

Steps to listen to Audiobooks on the Kindle Paperwhite

  1. Connect your Kindle to a bluetooth speaker.
  2. Open the book and tap on the headphones icon that appears at the bottom right. Not all books will have this icon.
  3. The audio player will appear, allowing you to download and play the audio version.

In this article, we’ll discuss the details of the steps above. 

kindle and external speaker

Exhibit A. Kindle connected to a bluetooth speaker. And a puzzle about the highlighted text above from Sherlock Holmes. Clues are marked in this post with {!} 

How to connect the Kindle to a bluetooth speaker

The Kindle Paperwhite does not have built-in speakers, and would need an external device to connect via bluetooth. It’s a quick and easy process.

  1. First, set your bluetooth speaker to pairing mode.
  1. Then  on your kindle device, go to Settings > Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 
  1. Make sure that Bluetooth is enabled. Then tap on Bluetooth devices. You should see the speaker listed here. Tap on the speaker to connect.

    If you do not see the speaker, try turning it off and on, and make sure it is on pairing mode. Tap on the Rescan button on the Kindle device to try again.

Check as well if the speaker is already connected to another device and try to turn off that connecting first.

After a successful pairing, you will see the speaker in the list of bluetooth devices. You can un-link anytime through the settings.

kindle connect to bluetooth

You can also turn off the connection quickly by tapping on the bluetooth icon in the top settings menu. The Kindle will remember the device next time you wish to connect and will not require you to go through the same pairing process again.

Note that not all Kindle devices support audio. Here’s a table that lists support for various devices.

DeviceGenerationAudio Support
Kindle Paperwhite10th generation (Released 2018)Yes
All previous generations of Kindle PaperwhiteNo
Kindle Oasis10th (2019),
9th (2017),
8th 2016)
Yes
No previous generations of Kindle Oasis-
Kindle basic model10th (2019),
8th (2016)
Yes
All previous generations of the basic Kindle device.No

Note, generation numbers don't always increment by 1. For example, the Kindle Paperwhite 10th generation (2018) is preceded by the 7th generation (2015).

Download audiobooks to the Kindle Paperwhite

Not all books have audio versions. In the Kindle store, you can identify those that do by checking the search filter "eBooks with Audible Narration."

Then on the book page, you should see an option to "Add Audible Narration."

Find eBooks with audible narration

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Add audible narration

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Once you purchase the book and download it to the Kindle, it would show a headphone icon like this.

Kindle with audiobooks

Other ways to find audiobooks

You can also browse for Audiobooks by tapping the Store icon in the top menu of the Kindle eReader. As of this writing, this option doesn’t have a search field though, and you’d have to go thru the categories one by one.

Another way is to go to the Audible “matchmaker” page here:
https://www.amazon.com/hz/audible/matchmaker

Kindle find matching audiobook

This will scan all the Kindle books in your library and list down those that have matching audio books. Pay attention to the `Load More` button at the end, which would appear if there are a lot of matches.

And yet another method is to select the “Whispersync for Voice” category on the Amazon website. This will allow you to search for titles that should have audio versions. 

https://www.amazon.com/b?node=5744819011

I recommend still selecting `eBooks with Audible Narration` filter on the left side, to be certain.

Whispersync for Voice

Occasionally, some books would download a separate Audible book. And won’t allow for quick switching between reading and listening. I have not been able to find a solution to this yet. But thankfully, it doesn’t seem to happen very often.

Use the Audible player in the Kindle

Once you have an audiobook downloaded, open the book and tap on the headphones icon on the bottom menu.

Kindle headphones icon

{!}

The screen will change to the Audible player where you will be asked to download the Audio files of the book if you haven’t already done so. This might take a few minutes depending on the length of the book.

At about 5%, you can begin listening already by tapping on the large play button.

You can skip forward and backward by 30 seconds and adjust the speed and volume. I find that setting the volume to 50% and increasing the speaker’s hardware volume gives better sound quality. The Kindle will remember the volume settings the next time you open the book.

Perhaps the most useful feature of the Audible player is the ability to quickly switch between reading and listening. You can do so by tapping on the `Reading` link at the bottom right.

Kindle switch to reading icon

The screen will switch to the book’s text and display the location that you were just listening to. This is an excellent way to alternate between reading and listening modes. It feels quite seamless.

You can also add bookmarks and notes by tapping on the `Add bookmark` option near the bottom right. These bookmarks would be accessible when you switch back to reading mode.

I find this very effective in reviewing passages from the audiobook. When I want to examine a paragraph more carefully, I create a bookmark and switch to reading mode. Here, I read the text again (even several times), and make additional notes if necessary.

I can also just add the bookmark and review them at a later time. 

Though it’s quite convenient, playing audiobooks from the Kindle consumes more battery than normal. Don’t forget to disconnect the bluetooth when you are no longer listening. Lowering the screen brightness would also help reduce battery drain.

Another thing to consider is storage. audiobooks take up a lot of space. This book for example, takes up about 130 MB at just 250 pages.

Sync with the Audible app on mobile

The Audible app can play the same audiobook that you purchased from Amazon. The app has a lot more options, including a sleep timer and adjustable forward and backward jump duration. These options are not available in the Kindle’s Audible player.

Listening via the Audible app can also sync locations with the Kindle so you can alternate between reading and listening. However, there is a noticeable delay and sometimes it even takes minutes to sync. Switching between reading and listening is not as seamless compared to using the audio player in the Kindle.

I use the audible app when I do not intend to switch between reading and listening in real-time. Such as when in transit. This way I conserve battery on the Kindle. 

Audible app

Text-to-speech VoiceView vs. Audiobooks

Aside from playing audiobooks, the Kindle can also read aloud many books using a feature called VoiceView. This is an accessibility feature using text-to-speech technology. It's inside the menu Settings > Accessibility > VoiceView Screen Reader.

Using VoiceView has a bit of a learning curve. But once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty straightforward. There is an excellent tutorial right on the setup screen.

Kindle VoiceView

Once VoiceView is enabled, navigation of the entire Kindle screen changes. You will have to use a set of tapping and swiping gestures to operate the Kindle. Not just for reading the book itself, but also for selecting menus, searching for books, etc. You will not be using the Audible player for VoiceView.

More information about the gesture commands can be found here.

The key thing to remember with VoiceView is you tap on the screen once to select an action, and tap twice to execute it. It’s like single-click vs. double-click on the PC. And double taps can be done anywhere on the screen. 

For example, you don’t have to double tap the home button. Instead, single tap the home button and double tap anywhere in the middle of the screen to proceed.

VoiceView can read text reasonably well, but it does not have the production quality of audiobooks.

Listening to audiobooks can be a very immersive experience. You’ll find emotions becoming more vivid, actions more striking. And for humorous books, the voice can propel the punch lines even further. If you haven’t already done so, I recommend giving them a try. 

Another benefit: Audiobooks can let the eyes rest for a bit, knowing that the Kindle can continue without skipping a beat.

As always, if you have other features you need investigated, please do not hesitate to drop us a line.

P.S. Here’s the answer to the puzzle in Exhibit A: 

Posted By
Ian
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