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Audiobook Services Finder

Compare the best sites and apps for listening to your favorite titles.

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Quick facts about audiobooks

  • Audiobooks are generally word-for-word narrations of novels that are usually pricier than ebooks or print books.
  • Subscription services can offer audiobook content for a lower monthly fee.
  • Key features to look for are library size, app compatibility and what audiobook selections are included.

An audiobook is exactly what it sounds like: It’s an audio version of a book. Platforms offer access to audiobooks with similar models to music and Internet TV subscriptions. These include single rentals or purchases, or subscription-based services that grant you access to a specific number of books.

But with the growing demand of audiobooks, we’ve also seen an increase in the amount of services available. Each offers different features and libraries, with some even dramatizing the experience into something like a play, while others shrink large texts into shorter audio summaries.

Compare audiobook services

Compare popular audiobook subscription plans considering cost, subscription model and its free trial offer.

Name Product Cost Subscription type Free trial Listen offline Library size
Audible
$14.95 per month
  • Credit
  • Rental
30 days
Yes
470,000
Google Play Audiobooks
Pay-per-book
  • Unlimited
No
Yes
5,000,000+
BorrowBox
Free
  • Rental
No
Yes
Depends on your local library
Downpour
$12.99 per month
  • Credit
  • Rental
No
Yes
80,000
Blinkist
$14.99 per month
  • Unlimited
7 days
Yes
3,500
Scribd
$8.99 per month
  • Unlimited
7 days
Yes
500,000
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What is an audiobook?

An audiobook consists of a voice actor reading out a novel word for word so you can listen in rather than run your own eyes over the page. Sometimes there are variations where multiple narrators are cast in the reading, or the book takes an abridged form when read aloud.

Typically, audiobooks have come after the hardcopy or e-book version, but now you can find works commissioned and appearing as an audiobook first. This is a trend that high-profile distribution services like Audible and Kobo have started as store exclusives, so the titles aren’t available in physical book form at launch.

Audiobooks come in a wide array of digital formats that can easily be decoded and played on everything from phones, tablets and eReaders to TVs, set-top boxes and computers. Common file types include MP3, Windows Media Audio (WMA), Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) and Advanced Audio Coding (AAC).

How to choose the best audiobook service

Consider these important questions when choosing an audiobook service.

  • How many books can you access monthly?
  • How much will you pay for additional books?
  • When do your book credits expire?
  • What genres does the library include?
  • What happens to the titles you’ve purchased after you cancel your subscription?
  • What devices can you use to access your books?
  • How reliable is the platform technology?
  • What is the narration quality?
  • What are the customer and technical support options?

What features should I look for?

Features make your listening experience all the more enjoyable. Find out if you would benefit from:

  • Sleep timers
  • Bookmarks
  • Family sharing
  • Playback speed adjustments
  • Voice controls
  • An offline mode
  • Syncing across devices
  • In-app purchase option

3 types of audiobook subscriptions

Subscription systems can vary from credits, unlimited access and rentals. The perks and drawbacks will depend on your listening habits, but include:

  • Credit. Audiobook services most commonly use the credit system. Each month credit is applied to your account and can be used to buy your favorite audiobooks. Each system differs depending on the provider and plan.
  • Unlimited. Unlimited access lets you listen to as many audiobooks as you want for a flat monthly fee. Some subscriptions give you access to news, magazines and even sheet music with your membership.
  • Rental. Similar to a public library, this model gives you access to titles for a limited time. Systems offer various formats, either for remote digital download or in hardcopy format where CDs are mailed to your address.

How to listen to audiobooks

You’ll listen to the audiobook on the device you use to download or stream it to, using the hardware and software already installed on that device. You don’t have to buy new hardware, even if the audiobook provider has their own device, such as with the Nook, Kobo and Kindle e-readers.

In most cases, you access that file through a service through an app or website portal where you can buy or select the audiobook you want to listen to with a subscription. You then simply listen to that audiobook through the app itself.

Many audiobook platforms require that you buy the titles through its website, not the app.

What are audiobook players?

While most audiobook services have their own app, there are alternatives. Audiobook players can work with content you purchase and download through some of the major services and retailers. More commonly, people use them to play audiobooks that have been ripped from CDs or tapes, or are DRM-free and downloadable as MP3s or other file formats.

Not all audiobook players are free, but many come with a free trial, with an option to upgrade to the full app. A few offer interesting features that may better fit your specific situation.

For example, Bound lets you stream your audiobooks from a remote server, such as Dropbox, so you don’t need any on-device storage space. Audiobooks Now offers an integrated store so you can buy as well as listen on the app, while Chirp curates the best audiobook deals currently on offer as its standout feature.

Some popular audiobook players are listed below. Please note that only some apps are available in different regions.

  • Chirp (Android, iOS)
  • Bookmobile (iOS)
  • Bound (iOS)
  • Smart Audiobook Player (Android)
  • Listen Audiobook Player (Android)
  • Voice Audiobook Player (Android)
  • Audiobooks Now (Android, iOS)

FAQ

Read more on this topic

  • Audible review The biggest name in audiobooks is Audible by Amazon — but does the service and broad title selection justify the cost?
  • Serial Box review Hungry for small bites of sci-fi storytelling? Look inside Serial Box to satisfy your short cravings with serial audiobooks.
  • Apple Books audiobooks review Access Apple audiobooks with no monthly subscription fee on any iOS device. But you'll pay for each title as you listen — except for the occasional freebie.
  • GraphicAudio review Take your audiobook game up a notch to movie-grade productions, complete with sound effects — and no monthly subscription fees.
  • Hoopla review Find out what all the hoopla is about with an online audiobook service that offers unlimited listening for $0 monthly, and no extra fees.
  • Downpour review When it rains, it pours: over 80,000 audiobooks to choose from hundreds of categories — what could go wrong? Without a free trial, it's hard to tell.
  • LibriVox review An audiobook service where volunteers narrate, edit and post titles to the public domain — for free.
  • Nook Audiobooks review Enjoy no monthly fees and lots of sales on this pay-as-you-listen platform — but get ready to pay higher prices for titles.
  • Libby review Libby works with your library card to give you access to your public library's audiobook selection — absolutely free.
  • BorrowBox review Access your local library's audiobook titles and resources — for free — using this simple app.
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