Join Discovery, the new community for book lovers

Trust book recommendations from real people, not robots 🤓

Blog – Posted on Monday, Nov 21

20 Best Audiobook Apps

20 Best Audiobook Apps

The immense popularity of audiobook consumption in recent years has resulted in an equally impressive number of audiobook apps available on the market, each equipped with a unique combination of offerings. Understandably, picking one can be overwhelming. To help you make an informed choice, we’ve sounded out the pros and cons of the best ones on the market, so make sure you’re all ears and read on!

Subscription-based apps

Subscription-based audiobook apps are a mix of ‘all you can eat’ buffets (allowing you unlimited access to their books for a flat monthly fee) and ‘credit per month’ deals (limiting your monthly borrowing). Both come with their own perks, depending on your reading habits and the type of content you’re looking for.

1. Audible

This Amazon-owned service dominates the audiobook space — and for good reason. With an Audible subscription, you can get your hands on virtually any title you can think of, plus their originals and exclusives! Their book recommendation algorithm is top-tier, suggesting titles based on your listening history, and they also have tiered monthly options to choose from - Audible Plus and Audible Premium Plus.

Both membership tiers give you unlimited access to the Audible ‘Plus’ catalog, but the Premium package also gives you one credit a month, which you can use to buy any book in Audible’s vast library. While the Audible Plus catalog has over 10,000 books, the entire Audible catalog totals at 470,000 audiobooks to choose from. Moreover, Audible lets you keep your titles forever, unlike many other apps that simply give you access to the audiobooks while your subscription is running. 

Subscription: 

Audible Plus — $7.95 per month (unlimited access to Plus catalog)

Audible Premium Plus — $14.95 per month (unlimited access to Plus catalog and 1 credit for any book in the full catalog)

2. Scribd

If you’re looking to combine your audiobook listening with ebooks, podcasts, and news publications like The New York Times, Scribd might be the app for you. Their massive library includes a healthy balance of traditionally published books, TikTok bestsellers, and Scribd Originals.

Scribd also runs an affiliate program, which entitles listeners to one free month for every friend you invite, and gives your friend a two-month trial (instead of the regular 30 days). With Scribd, you’re essentially streaming the books, meaning you don’t own them forever, and can only access a limited number of titles per billing month, depending on your region. 

Subscription: $11.99/month (access to a limited number of titles)

Fun fact: If you’re a writer, Scribd also has an open publishing platform to help you self-publish your audiobook in minutes! 

3. Kobo Books

Best known as an ebook retailer, Kobo Books also offer audiobooks on their platform. The ‘Kobo Plus Listen’ plan works out cheaper than Audible Premium Plus as you get unlimited access to over 100,000 audiobooks in their library for only $9.99. They also have a ‘Kobo Plus Read and Listen’ plan at a slightly higher price, which gives you access to both their audiobooks as well as 1.3 million ebooks.

The app also does a good job organizing your purchased books, and their in-app statistics are brilliant for data-obsessed readers, giving detailed insight into your reading habits, while suggesting new recommended titles based on your history. 

Subscription: 

Kobo Plus Listen — $9.99 per month (unlimited access to all audiobooks)

Kobo Plus Read and Listen — $12.99 per month (unlimited access to all audiobooks and ebooks)

4. Blinkist 

More than an audiobook app, Blinkist could  be considered a learning app — and a very good one at that! Specializing in non-fiction, Blinkist provides quick, 15-minute summaries that break down key ideas from more than 5,500 nonfiction books and podcasts. You can either go on a monthly basis (without a free trial), or  opt for their annual plan (with a 7-day free trial). Essentially, their annual plan works out cheaper than the monthly one if you know you want to stick around! A downside worth noting is that their summaries, while information-packed, are dense with facts. Not everyone might like just an overview of the book. For those who believe the devil is in the details, you could potentially access the entire audiobook for the same price on another app.  

Beyond offering you key insights on a silver platter, Blinkist gives personalized recommendations based on your listening. So, it’s always easy to find your next read. If a topic particularly catches your interest, you can dive deeper with full-length audiobooks at discounted prices, exclusive to Blinkist premium members. 

Subscription: 

Yearly plan— $8.34 per month (unlimited access to all blinks)

Monthly plan — $15.99/month (unlimited access to all blinks)

5. Barnes and Noble’s Nook

The Barnes and Noble’s Nook app has over 3.6 million ebooks, digital comics, newspapers and magazines, not to mention audiobooks — some of which are completely free. After the 30-day free trial, the subscription gives you access to one monthly credit, which can be used to redeem any audiobook from their library. A membership also gives you access to several of their books at a discounted rate, and you get one free audiobook on signing up.

Subscription: Yearly plan — $14.99 per month (one credit)

6. Realm FM

A slightly different take on the audiobook app, Realm FM offers immersive series and podcast experiences that are exclusively created for its platform. They have bite-sized episodes of content that ranges across genres such as drama, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. After a 2-week free trial, you can either get a yearly membership or a monthly one. And while you can listen to a lot of the app’s content for free, a paid membership removes ads and gives you access to other exclusive deals.

Realm FM is available on both iOS and Android, and they also have a Marvel and DC Comics audiobook series collection, available to be purchased separately (with a discount offer for Realm Unlimited members). The disadvantage is that none of the mainstream audiobook content you’re looking for can be found here. However, if you’re looking for original and fresh content that you can’t find anywhere else, the app is definitely worth checking out.

Subscription: 

Yearly plan — $29.99 per year (unlimited access) 

Monthly plan — $3.99/month (unlimited access)

7. Bookmobile 

Created based on actual feedback from audiobook listeners, Bookmobile focuses on enhancing the audiobook user experience. The app doesn’t host any of its own content, but instead allows you to access and play content from several different sources  — iTunes, Audible, LibriVox, public mp3 downloads, RSS feeds, Dropbox, etc. — and has been designed to avoid sliders and other distracting controls, allowing you to play/pause, skip forward or backward and create bookmarks easily. 

After the free trial, which gives you up to 5 audiobooks for 60 days, you can subscribe and listen to unlimited audiobooks every month. Of course, since the audiobooks and podcasts added to the app are imported from other sources, the app itself doesn’t offer much in terms of content. Interestingly, the app also has an integrated ‘driving mode’ that makes audiobook listening safe while driving. 

Subscription: Monthly plan — $3.99/month (unlimited access)

8. Smart Audiobook Player

Another audiobook app that doesn’t offer any in-house content is Smart Audiobook Player. It allows you to upload your own audio files, and then takes care of the rest for you! The obvious flipside here is that there is no actual content on the app, so you only get out what you put in. This may not be the best option if you’re looking to access mainstream audiobooks or new releases, but beyond the basic audiobook app features, this app facilitates customizable book cover art to give your files a finished look. It is also compatible with content from LibroFM, LibriVox, and pretty much any other audio content, providing a smooth listening experience. 

Subscription: Monthly plan — $1.99/month (unlimited access)

9. eStories

With over 120,000 audiobook titles across various genres to choose from, eStories starts off with a tempting half-price offer for your first 3 months, and then switches to a higher-priced subscription. Members get discounted prices on additional audiobooks as well as other perks such as extra credits and extended periods of use. As a member, you also get 30 days to return a book if you don’t like it.  Additionally, the app provides unlimited storage for your own audio that you can upload and listen to.

Subscription: 

First three months — $5.99 per book per month

Post first three months — $11.9 per book per month

10. Downpour

Next comes Downpour. This app has an impressive (and ever-expanding) collection — spanning fiction, non-fiction, classics, and contemporaries. What sets Downpour apart is their budget-friendly rental option. This allows you to rent audiobooks for a discounted price, separate from your monthly credit. They have a 30-day and a 60-day renting option, and you can further extend this at a minimal cost.

Downpour also has all the classic features — chaptered tracks, bookmarks, support offline listening, sleep-timers, and variable playback speeds — and their subscription-based membership (1 credit per month) runs at $12.99. You can also buy additional credits for $12.99 each. This is a key advantage, as with other apps, you might have to pay the full price for additional books if you’re not willing to wait for your next month’s credit. Moreover, on signing up, you get a free audiobook (though you cannot choose which book this is). 

Subscription: Monthly plan - 12.99 per month (1 credit) 

Pay-per-book apps

Unlike the buffet deals of subscription-based apps, pay-per-book audiobooks apps work on an ‘A la Carte’ basis — meaning you pay for exactly what you want and aren’t restricted to a monthly credit system. 

11. Apple Books

Pre-installed on all iOS devices, Apple Books is an obvious choice for many iPhone users. You can purchase any mainstream audiobook in their extensive library, categorized to help you find what you’re looking for. You can listen to a preview snippet before you pay for the book, and if you want to limit your spending, they also have a section of free audiobooks to browse. 

Apple Books doesn’t offer a subscription package. Instead, users purchase individual books (just like in the old days!), which makes this platform attractive to those who are infrequent listeners. However, if you’re a voracious audiobook consumer, this might be costly in the long run.  As this is an Apple product, it should come as no surprise that you can sync your listening across all your devices (including your Apple watch) — and you can import your Audible titles too! 

12. Spotify

A lesser-known side of the Swedish streaming platform Spotify is its growing audiobook business. Available on Android and Apple devices, Spotify boasts a wide variety of titles across all genres and age groups: children’s, young adult, adult, and so on. 

Spotify works exclusively on an ‘a la Carte’ basis, where you pay per book. While this does mean that you own the book forever, it’s probably not the most affordable option if you go through a large chunk of audiobooks per month. Having said that, if you already listen to music and podcasts on Spotify, having all your auditory content gathered in one place might be a good reason to consider this option.

13. Chirp Audiobooks

Wondering what the thrift shop equivalent for audiobooks is? Chirp is probably as close as it gets as there’s no membership fee, and you can buy as many audiobooks as you’d like at significantly discounted prices ($1.99 – $4.99). You can listen to your audiobooks by streaming them or downloading them to the Chirp mobile app. However, the platform is currently only available in the US.

Note: all Chirp’s offers are usually limited, so you need to be quick to not miss out!

14. Google Play Books

The Android equivalent of Apple Books, Google Play Books allows for seamless syncing and integration across all your devices (though it doesn’t allow you to track your reading within the app). And for Apple users, have no fear: the app is also available on iOS devices too (though it doesn’t support in-app purchases for iOS users). You can use the platform to download ebooks and comics too. 

The ones where you can choose

15. LibroFM

What sets LibroFM apart from its competitors is that they share their profits with your local bookstore of choice, and while they will sell audiobooks on demand, they also offer a monthly subscription. When you sign up, they also let you in on a bonus audiobook.  

LibroFM is currently only available in Canada and the US, and while they do have a sizable collection, it is smaller than other options on the market. A unique feature they have, however, is their DRM-free books. This means you’re not restricted to using their app but can directly download the MP3 files to your phone or computer (and keep them forever)!

Subscription option:  $14.99/ month (one audiobook credit)

16. Audiobooks.com

A lesser-known audiobook app is Audiobooks.com. This platform offers a 30-day free trial, during which you get 3 free audiobooks (more than any other platform) and other audio entertainment too (sleep & meditation, newscasts, audio magazine content, podcasts, etc). Post trial, a subscription gets you one credit per month to access their regular library and one credit for their exclusive VIP library. Of course, you can also purchase more credits at any point. With these credits, you can purchase any of their 350,000 audiobooks or join an audiobook club that gives you unlimited access to all the audiobooks in your selected club for 30 days.

For the commitment-phobes out there, the best part about Audiobooks.com is that you can purchase their titles with or without a subscription. They also have seasonal sales with monthly discounts. However, they have no return policy and it must also be noted that some audiobook clubs have a limited selection of books (check before you select a club!) 

Subscription option:  $14.95 per month (one credit to regular library + one credit to VIP library)

The ones for library members

17. Hoopla

A go-to audiobook app for library members, Hoopla allows library card holders across the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to listen to free audiobooks as long as their library is a Hoopla affiliate..You might be eligible for a library card from one of the public libraries around you (worth trying!) but if your local library isn’t on Hoopla’s list, you can try emailing them at feedback@hoopladigital.com. 

On iOS and Android, Hoopla’s app has all the essential audiobook app features  — from bookmarks to sleep timers. Aside from audiobooks, Hoopla also offers ebooks and television shows, but just as you can’t take all the books in the library home with you at once, there are monthly lending limits on the number of books you can borrow.

18 . Libby

Just like Hoopla, Libby lets you borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your local library. A library membership lets you access several thousand audiobooks on their app entirely free of cost. While the availability of titles depends on the library you’re a member of, you’d still be getting free access to a lot of books that you’d otherwise have to pay for or pirate from websites such as Zlibrary

The catch is that since you’re technically ‘borrowing’ the books, you only have 2 weeks to get through them before they’re 'returned’. Plus, there’s a limit on the number of books you can borrow at once, and there may be a waiting time for some of the more in-demand titles. Also, it must be noted that this app is only operational in North America. Having said that, the app does maintain a record of all the books you’ve borrowed, making it easy to continue from where you stopped in case you need to borrow a book twice. 

The public domain ones 

19. LibriVox

The audio equivalent of the Gutenberg Project, LibriVox hosts over 50,000 free recordings of books in the public domain. Narrated and produced by volunteers, the titles on LibriVox are DRM-free, so you can download the files and listen to them on any audio player you prefer, or you can use the LibriVox app, which has basic functions such as a sleep timer and bookmarking options. 

The obvious downside of LibriVox is that you won’t find many current titles. Also, given that volunteers record the audiobooks, the listening quality and experience are likely to be … inconsistent. That said, this app stands out as a celebration of literature as shared culture rather than a generator of profit, and who wouldn’t want to support that? 

20. YouTube

Often overlooked in audiobooks, YouTube has plenty of free titles uploaded to the platform by its users. And while any audiobook in the public domain is completely legal and free to share in this way, there are also several copyrighted books people have managed to upload illegally. 

Some trustworthy channels you can bank on to get started are Public Domain Audiobooks, Audio Books, and Greatest Audio Books. Of course, given that the books are on random YouTube channels, the selection is fairly unstructured. Further, the quality of the audio varies, and there is no guarantee that you’ll actually find the book you’re looking for! But hey, on a lucky day, you might just find a full audiobook version of the exact book you’re looking for floating around. 

Continue reading

More posts from across the blog.

The 60 Best Fantasy Books for Kids

The 60 Best Fantasy Books for Kids

No matter how old you are, it’s never too early to start reading fantasy — especially with so many incredible works out there! And of course, bolstered by a kid’s imagination, the...

Read post
50 Best Self-Help Books of All Time

50 Best Self-Help Books of All Time

Want to better yourself, but don't know where to start? Our list of 50 titles is sure to give you the guiding hand you need to start improving your life today.

Read post
10 Exciting New Books From Up-and-Coming Authors

10 Exciting New Books From Up-and-Coming Authors

Looking for some new reads in 2021? Check out these up-and-coming authors in genres ranging from sci-fi to romance to financial satire.

Read post