Imagine you’re a commuter. The train you take to work is always packed, with hundreds of people talking simultaneously. You try to read while you’re rumbling along for the twenty minutes it takes to get to your office. However, you find it extremely hard to concentrate with all the hustle and bustle around you. If this sounds anything like your reading habits, you need a good audiobook app. The best audiobook apps are the perfect way to get through your TBR (To Be Read) book stack. Simply download a book, put on your noise-canceling headphones, and enjoy listening while you kick back and relax.
Audiobooks aren’t just for commuters, though. Anyone who struggles to read for any reason may find audiobook apps are the answer. In this article, we’ll explore the best audiobook apps on Earth today. We’ll look at their pros and cons and how to pick the best audiobook app for you.
Best Overall Audiobook App: Audible
Our pick for the best overall audiobook app is Audible. Audible is one of the most popular audiobook apps today and for a good reason. You can listen to books or podcasts with or without a subscription. The Audible app works with Kindle Unlimited, too. Subscribers to Unlimited can find over 2,000 books to listen to and seamlessly switch between listening and reading. Also, if you’re a Prime member, you get access to two free books during your 30-day free trial.
We also like that with the Audible audiobooks app, buying audiobooks is risk-free thanks to their generous return policy. An Audible Plus membership has a credit system that lets you earn free books. However, we should note that the credits you earn won’t roll over every year, so use them when you can. Also, if you want access to even more books, you’ll need to pay for the more expensive plan, which is one of the most expensive on this list. So, if you’re not a voracious reader, Audible may be more costly than you’re willing to pay.
|If you’re already a Prime member, you get two free books during your trial.||Membership may be expensive, especially if you aren’t able to listen to audiobooks regularly.|
|Audible has an extensive library of books, and credits make it easier to listen to more for free.|
Best for All-in-One Subscriptions: Scribd
Our pick for the best audiobook app for all-in-one subscription plans is Scribd. Another popular audiobook app, Scribd, is a lot like Audible. However, Scribd does have a smaller library, and some reviewers state that the audio quality may not be as clear as Audible. What Scribd does have as an audiobook app is their easy-to-understand, all-in-one subscription plan. One plan, one price gets you all the membership benefits in the app. With this one price, you’ll get access to over two million ebooks, 300,000 audiobooks, and one million magazines and newspapers. Plus, Scribd includes sheet music and comics, too.
The biggest downside to Scribd is that you don’t get to keep the books you download forever. Another downside to Scribd is that their library is made up of books shared by their publishing partners. This means a book may be removed due to those agreements, disappearing before you have a chance to finish reading it.
|The all-in-one plan takes the guesswork out of subscriptions.||Unfortuatley, you don’t own the books forever.|
Best for Subscription-Free Listening: Google Play Books and Audiobooks
Our pick for the best audiobook app for subscription-free listening is Google Play Books and Audiobooks. Unlike Scribd and Audible, Google Play lets listeners pay per book rather than buy a subscription. Google Play app users can also access comics, manga, and textbooks.
However, users should be aware that there is currently no return policy. So if you accidentally buy a book you didn’t want, you won’t get a refund. Yet, if you’re a casual audiobook listener, Play is the best audiobook app for you because there’s no monthly use fee — you pay only for the books you (hopefully) want.
|You can pay per book, no monthly fees.||There is currently no return policy.|
|Readers have access to comics, manga, and textbooks.|
Best for Extra Books: Audiobooks.com
Our pick for best audiobook app for extra books is Audiobooks.com. We like Audiobooks.com because it offers a free 30-day trial. You get three audiobooks and 30 days to explore member deals. Additionally, if you decide to make it official, Audiobooks members get monthly deals, including one free book a month. After your trial, you’ll only need to pay per book download.
Audiobooks.com members will get access to over 10,000 free-to-listen books, and you’ll find more than four million titles in curated lists, everything from “New York Times Bestsellers” to “Plot Twists You Won’t See Coming.” We also love that once you buy an audiobook from the app, you own it for life, even if you cancel your plan.
Unfortunately, returning audiobooks can be tricky, as some reviews state that Audiobooks.com’s return policy is spotty at best.
|You can keep your audiobooks for life.||There is a difficult to nonexistent return policy.|
|The app has a 30-day free trial that includes three audiobooks.|
Best for Listening and Reading: Kobo
Our pick for the best audiobook app for listening and reading is Kobo. While Kobo is less popular than some of our picks on this list, we like that you can read or listen to over a million books with Kobo Plus Read or Kobo Plus Read and Listen. Plus, you can listen to Kobo books on their e-readers or by using the app on your own device.
The Kobo audiobook app makes it easy to adjust listening speed and either rewind or go forward by ten-second increments. You can also set up a sleep timer that turns off after a set amount of time.
Unfortunately, not all books are available without paying for the highest subscription tier. Also, iOS users will have to use kobo.com to purchase books due to an agreement between Kobo and Apple.
|Kobo lets you adjust your listening speed and set a sleep timer.||Not all books are available to all subscribers. It is based on your pay tier.|
|iOS users can’t buy books on their mobile devices, they will have to kobo.com for purchases.|
How to Pick the Best Audiobook App: Step by Step
When looking for the best audiobook app to buy, most people take into consideration the following:
- Audio quality
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
If you listen to a lot of audiobooks, you will want the app you choose to have good-quality audio. You’ll also want to make sure you can change the narrator’s voice so you don’t have to suffer through an annoying reading. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure the app’s audio is crisp and clear.
The library is a deciding factor in choosing an audiobook app. Some audiobook apps offer more than books. Users can also access magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, and even textbooks.
Keep in mind, however, that with some services, you don’t get to keep the books you download. Additionally, some apps have agreements with publishers that could cause titles to be removed.
The best audiobook apps include features that make listening to a book’s narrator even easier. Look for apps with a rewind option, which is handy if you realize you missed something important or interesting.
Also, you may want to find an audiobook app that allows you to set a timer that will turn off the audio after a set time or place in the book.
While some audiobook apps require a monthly or yearly subscription plan, others allow you to pay per book without committing to a monthly fee. When picking an app, think about which suits you better. If you don’t plan on listening to more than one or two books a month, consider an audiobook app that lets you pay per title. However, if you think you’ll read more, consider subscription plans.
What to Know Before Buying Audiobook Apps
When considering what audiobook app to get, it’s helpful to consider its compatibility with the phone or device you’ll be using to play audiobooks. While most of the best audiobook apps will work on most devices, be sure to double-check.
Another thing to consider is whether the app has a free trial period. You may want to assess the quality, availability, and quantity of the app’s books or other reading materials, such as magazines. Some apps will let you explore their library for a fee, or you can read customer reviews to make sure you’ll get the titles you want.
After reading about the app you’re considering and perusing the customer reviews, you should have a better idea if the app is right for you.
Using Audiobook Apps: What It’s Like
Using audiobooks is a convenient way for bookworms to devour their favorite stories without sitting down and reading. You can listen to audiobooks while commuting, cleaning the house, and even exercising. Audiobooks are also great for the visually impaired. If that’s you, be sure to check out how to get audiobooks for free from the Braille Insitute.
If you need help getting through your TBR list, we hope one of these apps can help you achieve your reading goals by fitting the habit seamlessly into your daily life.
|Audible||Extensive library, credits for free books, works with Kindle Unlimited, risk-free purchases||Expensive membership, credits don’t roll over|
|Scribd||All-in-one subscription plan, access to ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, sheet music, and comics||Smaller library, books may be removed, books aren’t owned forever|
|Google Play Books and Audiobooks||No subscription required, pay per book, access to comics, manga, and textbooks||No return policy|
|Audiobooks.com||Free 30-day trial, monthly deals, access to over 10,000 free-to-listen books, ownership of books for life||Difficult return policy|
|Kobo||Adjustable listening speed, sleep timer, read or listen to over a million books||Not all books available to all subscribers, iOS users can’t buy books on mobile devices|
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/Chinnapong.