Not sure which audiobook app is right for you? Check out this detailed guide about each of the major audiobook players, including the verdict on my favorite audiobook app.
For about a year now, I’ve made a concerted effort to limit the amount of money and time we spend supporting Amazon and it’s many tentacles of business that reach to just about all corners of the world. They’re getting a little too big for their britches, at least for me.
Among its core services, Amazon has been a leader in the audiobook space. Audible is a great product with a massive collection of audiobooks. I really love audiobooks and used Audible for a while. As part of a larger Amazon Alternatives series, I’ve been experimenting with a variety of other audiobook apps for the last year. I definitely have a favorite (hint: it’s not Audible), but I think each audiobook app offers its own benefits.
As a complement to borrowing books from the library, audiobooks are a great way to limit the consumption of physical resources by not buying every book for ourselves. They’re perfect for entertaining children in the car or bringing life to some of the mundane tasks of life like folding laundry.
Below, I’ve included a little summary of my thoughts on each audiobook player to help figure out which audiobook app is right for you. If you have a favorite, another I haven’t mentioned, or suggestions on how to make each audiobook app even better, be sure to share in the comments!
$9.99 / month or $84.99 / year (about $7/month) for unlimited use
Scribd works through a monthly subscription model. For a set price, you have access to their full collection of audiobooks as well as e-books, articles, podcasts, and more. If you’ll be reading or listening to at least one book per month, Scribd is definitely the least expensive option.
I’ve been using Scribd since August of 2019, and I’ve been really happy with it. It has almost any book I want to read. Occasionally, really popular books have a waitlist, but I haven’t had this issue yet with any books I’ve added to my listening list. Scribd is my very favorite audiobook player!
Overdrive / Libby
Free with a library card
Overdrive and Libby are both free apps you can use to download ebooks and audiobooks from your local library. As long as you have a library card, you can set up an account and request books. You can’t beat the price. However, I don’t use the library apps all that often. I find the collection, at least in my county library system, doesn’t have many of the books I want to listen to and there are often long wait times for the popular books they do have. It’s worth having an account to use Overdrive or Libby for the books in your library’s collection, but I don’t think this would be my only audiobook source if I always wanted to have something high on my priority list readily available. Here’s a bunch more information on Libby from a fellow blogger who is an expert in all things books (she’s even a former librarian).
$14.99 / month for one book per month or buy per book
Libro.fm supports independent bookstores. A portion of proceeds from each subscription or purchase supports local, independent bookstores. You can choose which local bookstore you’d like to support or allow Libro.fm to share profits through their general profit allocation program.
I used to have a membership with Libro.fm and wanted to like them in order to support independent bookstores. However, the selection didn’t work for me; I often couldn’t find what I wanted. More frustrating, the technology is inferior to Scribd, Libby, and Audible. You can only select new books to download from their website, not within the app, so it’s a bit clunky to exit the app to select a book and then come back into the app to listen to it. I hope they upgrade their technology and workflow in the future; I’d definitely be up for trying them again.
Chirp is pretty different than many of the other audiobook apps because it has a unique pricing and catalog model. Chirp offers select audiobooks at incredibly low prices for a limited period of time. They do not require a subscription or fee to use the app. Instead, Chirp works with publishers to offer a limited selection of audiobooks at steep discounts for a set period of time.
Sometimes, publishers effectively put audiobooks on sale to introduce the books to potential new audiences. When this happens, Chirp offers the deal on its app for purchase at a low price. You keep the audiobook forever. Chirp could supplement another audiobook membership or be perfect for someone who is building a collection of audiobooks to come back to time and again. However, it wouldn’t be my primary audiobook app.
Although primarily known for music, Spotify has a collection of audio books in their library available for members. You can search for the books through playlists they maintain of the first chapter of each book. When you find a book you want, then you can navigate to the rest of the book through the track of the first chapter. I haven’t used Spotify for books yet because Scribd has been more than sufficient. However, they do have a quick start guide as the first item on their Top Recommendations audio book playlist that helps users find and download books. If you already have a Spotify membership, this is definitely worth investigating.
$14.95/month for one book per month or purchase individual books
Through Audible, you pay a monthly subscription fee for one or two credits per month and then use those credits to purchase books. If you do not use the credits, you can accrue them over time. However, you can only accrue up to three credits before you stop earning credits despite still paying a membership fee.
At some points when I had Audible, I wasn’t listening to a ton of audiobooks, so I nearly paid for months when I didn’t even accrue credits. This was massively frustrating to me, although you can pause or cancel your membership at any time. Thus, if you choose Audible, be sure to manage your subscription and not pay for months when you aren’t earning credits.
Through Audible, you can also purchase additional books if you want more audiobooks than are included in your subscription. Members also receive two free Audible Original books each month (from a selection of 6- 12 choices or so), but those were never very compelling for me. I listened to one or two of them, and they were not all that great. With limited time to listen to audiobooks, I didn’t want to waste it on mediocre books, so Audible Originals are of essentially no value to me.
Audible has great technology and a massive collection of audiobooks. However, I canceled my Audible subscription in early 2019 when I first starting ‘breaking up with Amazon’ and haven’t missed it for a minute. I use Scribd and think it’s much better, especially considering it is less expensive and I can listen to as much content as I want.
Other Free Audio Book Sources
My TBR list is never-ending and I do not have time to read or listen to every audiobook on my wish list, so I’m pretty particular about what I choose. I want my time spent on books high on my priority list. I’m willing to pay for a monthly subscription to get the books I most want to hear.
That being said, I haven’t spent a ton of time exploring the variety of resources that offer free audiobooks, but there are a bunch of places to find free audiobooks, many of which are not included in my list above if you’re more flexible about the content. Feel free to check them out if this is up your alley.
What’s The Verdict?
Scribd is definitely my favorite audiobook player! It has everything I need, and it’s the least expensive. Audible has the largest collection and arguably the best technology (though Scribd is a very close second and plenty good). However, Scribd has more than enough options for me, so the bigger Amazon selection doesn’t add any value for me.
I supplement Scribd with Libby, if needed, although I have found everything I wanted on Scribd for the last several months. With an unlimited Scribd membership, I don’t have to fuss around with purchasing individual books from other apps, because I can get everything I need in one place.
What’s your preferred audiobook app?