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13 Best Audiobook Services

With the number of people who listen to audiobooks continually rising (1), it’s no surprise that there are many services out there (free and paid) to choose from. Which is why we did the hard work for you and selected and reviewed the 12 best audiobook services, with Audible coming in at number one.

Best Audiobook Services 

1. Audible- Best Overall 

The Details:

  • $14.95 a month
  • 30-day free trial
  • 2 credits at start of trial
  • 1 credit a month
  • Selection of Plus Catalog audiobooks, no credits needed

Pros:

  • Unlimited access to Plus Catalog, no credits needed
  • Great selection of bestsellers and new titles
  • “Streaming service” for audiobooks
  • Daily Deals
  • Over 200,000 titles

Cons:

  • Only 1 credit per month, but can purchase additional credits as needed.

2. Scribd- Cheapest Option

The Details:

  • $9.99 a month
  • 30-day free trial
  • Can read and listen
  • Includes magazines, podcasts, in addition to books and audiobooks.

Pros:

  • Ability to start as many books as you want
  • Includes magazines, podcasts, and books in addition to audiobooks (even sheet music!)
  • Snapshot section to read summaries

Cons:

  • You don’t get to keep the books you read.

3. Librivox- Best for Reading the Classics

The Details:

  • Public Domain audiobooks

Pros:

  • Free!
  • Ability to download audiobooks
  • Has an app

Cons:

  • Limited to books in the public domain
  • Since the recordings are done by volunteers, quality may not be the best. Be sure to check reviews!

4. Google Audiobooks- Best subscription-free service

The Details:

  • Individually priced audiobooks ranging from $1.99 to $40
  • Listen with Google Play Books app

Pros:

  • No subscription
  • Book is yours forever after purchase
  • Can listen through app or browser

Cons:

  • Books can sometimes be more expensive
  • Almost no free content
  • Since the recordings are done by volunteers, quality may not be the best. Be sure to check reviews!

5. Apple Audiobooks- Best for iPhone users 

The Details:

  • Individually priced audiobooks
  • Includes eBooks to read as well 

Pros:

  • No subscription
  • Can connect to all your Apple devices for listening on-the-go. 

Cons:

  • Books can sometimes be more expensive
  • Only available for Apple users

6. Libro.fm- Best for supporting local bookstores

The Details:

  • $14.99 monthly subscription that includes 1 credit 
  • 30% off additional audiobooks 

Pros:

  • Supports local bookstores and economy
  • Easy returns
  • Expert picks from booksellers

Cons:

  • Less titles than other competitors
  • No free trial

7. Kobo- Best for reading on multiple devices

The Details:

  • $12.99 monthly subscription that includes 1 credit 
  • Can buy additional credits in packs of three 

Pros:

  • Keep your books even if you cancel
  • Get 3 credits when signing up

Cons:

  • Less titles than other competitors

8. Blinkist- Best for busy people

The Details:

  • 15-minute summaries of 5,000+ nonfiction titles.
  • $14.99 monthly subscriptions OR $67.49 yearly ($5.63 monthly value)

Pros:

  • Thousands of summaries
  • Great for quick learning

Cons:

  • Only non-fiction book summaries

9. Chirp Books- Best for individual purchases

The Details:

  • Thousands of audiobooks at discount prices
  • Audiobooks uploaded by authors or publishers themselves

Pros:

  • Free app
  • No subscription
  • Lots of deals per month

Cons:

  • Not all books have discounts
  • Discounts are for limited time

10. Barnes & Noble Audiobooks- Newest service 

The Details:

  • $14.99 monthly subscription, includes 1 credit per month OR
  • No subscription, pay per audiobook
  • Listen on the Nook app or browser

Pros:

  • Free app
  • 300,000 titles

Cons:

  • More expensive than other competitors
  • Smaller selection

11. Downpour- Best for renting audiobooks

The Details:

  • $12.99 monthly subscription, includes 1 credit per month
  • Extra credits $12.99
  • Listen on the Downpour app

Pros:

  • Free app
  • Keep your books after purchase

Cons:

  • No free trial
  • Smaller selection

12. Audiobooks.com- Best free trial

The Details:

  • 3 free audiobooks after signing up for free trial
  • More than 350,000 audiobooks
  • $14.95 after free trial

Pros:

  • Monthly selection of free titles
  • Sales events

Cons:

  • No returns policy

13. Graphic Audio- Best for an immersive experience

The Details:

  • “Movie in your mind”
  • Different casts of voices narrate every book for a cinematic audio experience

Pros:

  • Free app
  • Keep your books after purchase
  • A fun way to experience audiobooks

Cons:

  • Not for everyone
  • Some users find some of the background music annoying
  • Smaller selection

How to choose the best audiobook service:

Choosing the best audiobook service comes down to personal preference. In short, there’s something for everyone. Just consider how many audiobooks you listen to a month and see if you’ll need a subscription or are better off buying as you need them. 

What to look for when choosing an audiobook service?

It all depends on preference, but in general be on the lookout for: 

  • Whether you can keep your audiobooks or not after purchase
  • A straightforward, easy to understand process 
  • Variety of title selection 
  • Clear user policies 
  • Whether you need to download an additional app

Why should I choose a paid subscription service? 

In one word: quality. The quality of some of the free services can’t be guaranteed, especially the ones that use volunteer narrators that don’t necessarily have the recording tools of more professional services. 

What’s the best way to listen to audiobooks?

The beauty of audiobooks is that you can listen to them while doing practically anything, like this Reddit user who says they even listen to them while working! Admittedly, it can take a while for some people to adapt to not letting the audiobook fade into the background and getting distracted, but once you do you’ll join the millions (2) of people who listen to audiobooks each year, in every possible way you can think of!  

What are the benefits of listening to audiobooks?

According to the Audio Publisher’s Association, there are many benefits to spoken-word literature, like:

  • Helps improve your literacy skills, which in turn improve your reading skills. 
  • Develop critical thinking and active listening  skills
  • Can enjoy while doing other activities
  • Increase your vocabulary

This in addition to finally being able to conquer that pile of books that’s been waiting for you to read them! Who knew you just had to listen to them? 

Where to find free audiobooks?

While we love the unmatched quality and user experience of paid subscriptions, there are some great free alternatives, like LibriVox and their extensive library of public domain works.

And remember, most paid subscriptions, like Audible and Barnes & Noble, offer a free book when joining their free trial so they’re also worth checking out! 

Why is audio content booming?

In recent years, podcasts, audiobooks and other spoken-word media have taken the world by storm, with a whopping 45% of Americans (3) subscribed to an audio service. The reasons for this heightened interest in audio content may include: 

  • Increased accessibility of audio publishing and broadcasting
  • Something called the audio flywheel, in which advancement in one area, like hardware and software improvements, impulses the advancement of another area, like more creators making more content, which in turn makes more people listen to them. This makes advertisers want to invest in this content, which allows for further technological improvements and the cycle continues. 
  • Advancements in text-to-speech software
  • More ownership of audio-enabled hardware, like wireless earbuds, sophisticated headphones and even smart speakers and improved bluetooth connectivity in vehicles.  
  • Changes in media habits, like limiting the amount of screen time, has made people want to explore consuming their content through audio.
  • Simply, there are people who prefer listening to reading! 

Are audiobooks for me?

If you’re an avid reader (or wish to be!) but find that you just don’t have time to sit down with a physical book, or when you do, just can’t manage to read more than a paragraph without getting distracted, then audiobooks might be your perfect solution. Some services (like Graphic Audio) even make the book become a movie in your head with sound effects and different voice actors for each character. Users say that these elements really help them to immerse themselves in the story. 

In the end, the best way of knowing if this medium is for you is to try it for yourself! 

Can I cancel anytime?

Yes. All the subscription-based services mentioned in this article allow you to cancel at any time. 

What’s going on with Scribd?

While this is a cheap alternative to Audible or other paid audiobook services, we should mention that there has been some controversy surrounding Scribd and their cancellation policies. Apparently, some users are claiming they’re being charged the monthly amount even after canceling their subscriptions. While we haven’t experienced this issue firsthand, it’s always best to make an informed decision. 

Our preferred audiobook service is Audible. 

We feel that with Audible you get the best bang for your buck. Not only do you get 2 credits after signing up for the free trial, you also get unlimited access to their Plus catalog and you get to keep every book you purchase. If you’d like an alternative to Amazon (we get it), there’s the recently-launched Barnes & Noble audiobook service which is very similar to Audible, except with a smaller library. Chirp Books is a great alternative for a subscription-free service, where you can find daily deals and discounts on hundreds of audiobooks. 

In the end, Audible’s great offering (which includes exclusive content!), user-friendly interface and the ability to keep your books even if you cancel, makes this the all-around winner for us.