Screenshot of the Apple Books UK website, the Apple Books app logo can be seen. Underneath is an iPad in landscape showing the App, Reading now and an open book can be seen. an iPhone is to the right showing the audiobooks section of the app.

Audiobooks on Apple Books can be on average 114% more expensive than its written counterpart. This impacts customers with disabilities that wish to consume the same content in a different format. The solution is to make these the same price.

Disability tax

The ”disability tax” or the “disability price tag” refers to the additional financial burden or costs that disabled individuals and their households often face due to their disabilities.

This term is not an official tax imposed by the government, but rather a metaphorical way to describe the extra expenses and financial challenges that arise as a result of living with a disability. These extra costs can arise from various factors, including the need for specialised equipment, medical treatments, accessible transportation, and other accommodations that are necessary for daily living and participation in society.

For instance, a disabled person might need to purchase assistive devices or technology (AT), modify their home for accessibility, or spend more on healthcare-related expenses.

Additionally, disabled individuals may have to pay higher utility bills due to increased energy use, or they might face added costs when seeking accessible forms of entertainment, travel, or housing. While disability benefits and support programs exist to assist with these extra costs, they might not always cover the full extent of the financial impact.

As a result, disabled individuals and their families can find themselves in a situation where they are effectively paying more for essential needs and services compared to those without disabilities. This concept underscores the need for a fair and inclusive society that provides adequate support and accommodations to ensure that disabled individuals can live fulfilling lives without facing undue financial strain.

OK, what has this got to do with Apple Books?

Apple Books offers AudioBooks alongside regular books. Audiobooks can be helpful to a wide range of people, including:

  • Visually Impaired Individuals: Audiobooks are a valuable resource for people who are blind or have low vision, as they provide access to literature and information that may otherwise be inaccessible in printed form.
  • People with Learning Disabilities: Audiobooks can be beneficial for individuals with dyslexia, ADHD, or other learning disabilities. Listening to audiobooks can make it easier for them to comprehend and enjoy books and educational materials.
  • Busy Individuals: Audiobooks are a convenient option for people with busy lifestyles. You can listen to audiobooks while commuting, exercising, doing household chores, or during any downtime when it’s difficult to sit down and read a physical book.
  • Elderly Individuals: As people age, their eyesight may deteriorate, making it challenging to read small print. Audiobooks can provide a way for elderly individuals to continue enjoying books and stories.
  • Language Learners: Audiobooks can be a valuable tool for language learners. They allow learners to practise listening comprehension and improve their pronunciation and vocabulary in the target language
  • Children and Young Readers: Audiobooks can engage young readers and help them develop a love of literature. They can also assist struggling readers by providing an alternative way to access books.
  • People with Physical Disabilities: Individuals with physical disabilities that affect their ability to hold or manipulate a physical book may find it easier to consume literature through audiobooks.
  • Multitaskers: Audiobooks are great for individuals who like to multitask. You can listen to a book while doing other activities, such as cooking, cleaning, or driving.
  • Long-Distance Travelers: Audiobooks can make long car rides or flights more enjoyable and productive. They provide entertainment and a way to pass the time.
  • People with Anxiety or Stress: Audiobooks can serve as a form of relaxation and stress relief. Listening to a soothing or engaging story can help people unwind and escape from the pressures of daily life.
  • Book Enthusiasts: Audiobooks can be enjoyed by anyone who loves books. Some people simply prefer the experience of listening to a well-narrated story, even if they also read printed books.

Audiobooks are a versatile and inclusive medium that can benefit a diverse audience, making literature and information more accessible and enjoyable to a wide range of individuals.

Reviewing the data

I compared the top 20 titles on Apple Books UK for this month.

Top fiction Apple Books in the UK in September 2023

  1. The Woman Who Lied by Claire Douglas. The book is £0.99, the audiobook £7.99
  2. Meet Me in Milan by Sophie Gravia. The book is £0.99p, the audiobooks is £9.99
  3. The truth about Her by Annie Taylor. The book is £0.99p, the audiobooks is £7.99
  4. Only Love Can Hurt like this by Paige Toon. The book is £2.99, the audiobook is £7.5.
  5. Unsafe by Cathy Glass. The book is £4.99 the audiobook is £7.99
  6. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover. The book is £5.99 the audiobook is $11.99
  7. The people on platform 5 by Clare Poolney. The book is £0.99p the audiobook is £7.99
  8. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas The book is £1.99 the audiobook is £20.99.
  9. The Love of my Life by Roise Walsh. The book is £2.99 the audiobook is £7.99
  10. The Affair by Lee Child The book is £1.99 the audiobook is £4.99

Top nonfiction Apple Books in the UK in September 2023

  1. A Family Torn Apart by Cathy Glass. The book is £2.99, the audiobook is £7.99.
  2. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before by Julie Smith. The book and audiobook is £7.99.
  3. Menopausing by Davina McCall & Dr Naomi Potter. The book is £3.99, the audiobook is £7.99.
  4. Girlhood by Maggie Dent. The book is £6.99, the audiobook is £18.99.
  5. Chatter by Ethan Kross. The book is £7.99, the audiobook is £7.99.
  6. Yoga by Emmanuel Carrère & John Lambert. The book is £9.99, the audiobook has not been offered.
  7. Between by Sarah Ockwell-Smith. The book is £4.99, the audiobook is £9.99.
  8. It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn. The book is £4.99, the audiobook is £7.99.
  9. Otherlands by Thomas Halliday. The book is £9.99, the audiobook is £7.99.
  10. Rogues by Patrick Radden Keefe. The book is £4.99, the audiobook is £9.99.
  • The average cost of eBooks for 20 titles £4.49
  • The average cost of audiobooks is £9.62 for 19 titles (one title did not offer an audio book).

Findings, audiobooks cost on average, 114% more

Audiobooks on Apple Books cost an extra 114% more than the regular ebook version. This is the aggregate average of these 20 titles. This is a significant extra burden.

For the book “A Court of Thorns and Roses” it was 903% higher.


Who knows, maybe they are more to produce and they wish to pass these onto the consumer.


One solution is that both formats should be the same price.

A better solution is to bundle them both into the same purchase. The customer is paying for the content, not the format.

An audiobook is an alternative format, a customer and a disabled customer should not have to pay 114% extra to consume the same content in a different format. Accessibility should be reflected in business decisions.


I’m Chris, a UX Developer with a focus in accessibility, available for hire.
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