Picking the right audiobook app for you may not be as straightforward as you think. Here are a few things to consider before you put in your credit card information.
- Selection: A comprehensive collection of books to choose from is the most critical aspect of any audiobook app. The best apps have hundreds of thousands of titles for download.
- Subscription: Services like Audible and Kobo Books offer a monthly subscription plans that allows you to choose one audiobook title a month to listen to and keep forever. These plans range from about $10-$20. And you get a free book when you sign up for a membership.
- Free or included content: If you listen to a lot of audiobooks but don’t have the budget to satisfy your reading habit, check to see if the service you’re using to has a selection of free books or a catalog of included titles that you don’t have to pay extra for.
- In-app purchases: Being able to buy when you’re away from your computer is a very convenient aspect of audiobook apps. However, many programs don’t support mobile purchases, forcing you to buy on a computer and then update your app to get the new content.
- Reading statistics: Some audiobook apps provide records about which books you’ve read, how long you read them, and the total number of hours you’ve spent listening.
- Non-audiobook content: Audiobooks are only part of the story with many of these apps. Several also offer ebooks, magazines, podcasts, and more.
- Personalized recommendations: Finding your next great read is often a slog. The best audiobook mobile apps examine your reading and purchase history to serve you suggestions of books you’ll love.
- Organizational tools: After you’ve used an audiobook app for a while, your library grows and often gets unwieldy. The best apps have tools that let you manage your titles into collections and sort them by title, length, genre, author, progress, and more.
- Platform compatibility: Listening to your collection of audiobooks on any device you own is both critical and convenient. The best apps allow you to download programs that work on multiple platforms like iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, and even through a web browser.
- ✓ Comprehensive title selection
- ✓ Multiple subscription options
- ✓ Plus Catalog incudes thousands of books
- ✗ No in-app cash purchases
- ✗ No desktop app for macOS
Audible is the king of audiobooks for good reasons. Most importantly, its selection is enormous. With over 200,000 recordings, it is a near certainty that you will find the audiobook you are looking for. Plus, there are many titles that are Audible-exclusives, so they can’t be found on any other app. And with Audible creating more and more original content, it’s cementing its place as the go-to destination for all audiobookworms.
If you sign up for a subscription plan, you’ll gain access to the Audible Plus Catalog, with tens of thousands of audiobooks you don’t have to pay extra for. The premium plans have multiple tiers, so you can choose which one suits your reading habits best. Audible Plus gets you all the titles in the Plus Catalog as long as you’re a member, while Audible Premium Plus lets you choose one or two premium titles each month to keep forever, no matter how much it costs in dollars.
Audible’s book recommendation algorithm is fantastic. Especially if you have a premium membership and a growing library. The more you listen to, sample, and rate audiobooks, the better it gets at serving up titles that you’ll be interested in.
The app has a few cool features that help gamify the listening experience. You can keep track of how many hours you’ve listened to your audiobooks. The app keeps a running record of daily, weekly, monthly, and all-time listening hours. There are also some fun badges you can get for listening at certain times of the day or week, how long you listen, what you listen to, and if you share your experience on social media.
Buying books from the Audible app is only possible by using your monthly credits. Unfortunately, cash purchases must be made through the company’s website.
You can get the Audible mobile app for iOS, Android, and Kindle devices. There’s a desktop version for Windows machines, but not for macOS. But you can always access your audible account from any device by logging in via a web browser.
- ✓ Inexpensive monthly subscription
- ✓ Wide selection of audiobooks
- ✓ Simple interface
- ✗ No in-app purchases for iOS
- ✗ Lacks library of included titles
Kobo Books is a decent alternative to Audible if you want a monthly-credit subscription. Kobo’s premium plan buys you any title in the library but for about five dollars less than Audible’s offering.
However, Kobo Books doesn’t have a catalog of thousands of included titles like Audible does. And while you can find most audiobooks from mainstream publishers in the Kobo store, the service has no original content and no audiobooks exclusive to the service.
The app’s interface is simple, manageable, and easily divided between ebooks and audiobooks. Titles in your library are efficiently organized, managed, and sorted. Plus, the player screen is the simplest of all the audiobook apps in this article.
Kobo’s reading statistics are superior to Audible’s. They give you a far more drilled-down look at what you’ve read, how much you’ve read, how many books you’ve completed, how far you are on each title, and overall averages on all the media in the app, not just audiobooks.
One of the annoying things about Kobo is that you can’t purchase audiobooks through the iOS app, even with credits. So, iPhone users need to log into the Kobo website, do your shopping there, and come back to the app when you’ve finished.
- ✓ Entire selection is free
- ✓ Fantastic reading history
- ✓ Ebooks and magazines included
- ✗ Book loans expire in two weeks
- ✗ Long waits for popular books
If you haven’t made it to your local library in a long time, it’s probably worth visiting and renewing your library card. Then you can unlock tens of thousands of audiobooks for free on the Libby app. And although the availability of titles varies depending on what library system you’re a member of, you can get books you’d have to pay for, or spend a credit on, with services like Audible and Kobo Books.
There are a few catches. The first is that (like with any public library) the audiobooks are not yours to keep. And since you’re technically borrowing every book, you only have 14 days to finish them before the app automatically returns them. Plus, you may have to wait in line for popular audiobooks. Wait times can be just a couple of days, or last several months, depending on how many people are waiting for a title. And Libby limits how many books you can have at a time. You can borrow up to ten audiobooks and have ten more on hold.
It’s not just audiobooks that Libby lends out. You can also use the app to borrow ebooks and magazines that your library has online. Libby also features the most powerful sorting, curating, and tagging tools of all the audiobook apps in this article. Plus, it has a comprehensive archive of what books you’ve borrowed, read, and returned, which makes it easy to pick up where you left off if you need to borrow a book twice.
If nothing else, you should get Libby as a supplemental audiobook app and check it first before you spend cash or a credit on an audiobook. It’s a great way to save money.
- ✓ Buy nearly any audiobook
- ✓ Syncs with all your Apple devices
- ✓ Plays Audible purchases
- ✗ No subscription plans
- ✗ Lacks non-Apple platform apps
Apple’s Books app comes preinstalled on every device running iOS and macOS. So, it’s the natural choice for people who operate within Apple’s ecosystem. And it’s not a bad choice for audiobooks and ebooks. Plus, it makes syncing your digital bookshelf across your devices as easy as it can be.
Apple’s online bookstore is just that, a place you buy books with money. There are no credits, loans, or catalogs of included titles. And there are no monthly subscription plans available either. So, this is a good service for people who don’t want to keep track of all of that or listen to audiobooks so rarely that subscribing doesn’t make financial sense.
The one thing that Apple Books has that no other iOS audiobook app does is the ability to make purchases with money in the app. All the other iOS audiobook apps in this article either make you shop in a web browser or restrict you to using credits to buy audiobooks. This is likely due to the fact that Apple takes 30% of the revenue from in-app purchases.
However, shopping for audiobooks is a bit more tricky because there’s no option to browse audiobooks only. Instead, you need to search for a book title, then drill down in the results to see if an audio version is available.
You can also use this app to listen to titles you’ve purchased with Audible. And conversely, you can import your Apple Books library into the Audible app. However, this only works most of the time. Too often, there’s some issue that prevents cross-platform listening.
- ✓ Exhaustive book selection
- ✓ Also does ebooks and comics
- ✓ Available on iPhone
- ✗ No in-app purchases for iOS
- ✗ Lacks reading stats
Google Play Books & Audiobooks is an excellent choice for Android users for the same reason that Apple customers use the Books app. If you’re someone who uses your Google account for everything from email to word processing, VoIP calls, and even navigation, you’ll likely find Google Play Books & Audiobooks a good fit for your tech life. It just fits.
Even if you’re a non-Android user, you can access your Google Play Books account from any browser. And Google makes its mobile app available for iOS users.
Like Apple Books, Google Play Books is a simple book store. And it has just as wide a selection as Apple Books or Audible’s non-exclusive offerings. But while there are no credits, subscriptions, or premium catalogs, Google Play offers a small library of free audiobooks that are auto-narrated by Google technology. These titles are works from the public domain like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It’s a nice touch, and it will be interesting to see where Google takes the auto-narration technology.
Shopping for books is simple with Google Play Books. Android users can make purchases within the app. However, the iOS app is limited to downloading ebook and audiobook samples, along with the free auto-narrated books. If you’re on an iPhone or iPad and want to buy something, you must complete the purchases through a web browser.
Unfortunately, there are no listening metrics available in Google Play Books & Audiobooks. An odd omission considering how much data Google captures through all its products.