So you want to join the world of audiobooks, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place. We have the best audiobook apps for Android and iPhone, free options, paid audiobook subscriptions, and a slew of sites for quick, bite-sized listens.
Here’s the skinny: Reading with your ears is not very different from reading with your eyes. You can get free audiobooks through your library (or library’s app), you can find books in the public domain available for free, or you can buy audiobooks individually.
But in the audiobook world, sites offer subscriptions, which save you money. Subscriptions range from about $10 to $15 a month, and if you listen to a book a month, that’s some nice bang for your buck. Especially considering the price of a new hardcover.
Most audiobook subscriptions offer a free one-month trial, so there’s really no downside to giving audiobooks a try. Listen to murder mysteries while you wash the dishes, self-help books while you drive, or romance while you garden. Audiobooks don’t have to be replacements for print books—they’re an addition. In 2016, 26 of the 125 books I read were audiobooks. That’s a 20 percent increase in books!
Here’s the best audiobook apps, free or paid, to get more books into your ears.
Free audiobook apps
Maybe you just want a taste, so here are the top free audiobook apps. No harm, no foul.
PAID AUDIOBOOK SUBSCRIPTIONS
For the intermediate listener, we bring you: Paid audiobook subscriptions! These are some of the best audiobook apps for Android and iPhones. Really, choosing the right one comes down to price and what you like your apps to look like.
Psst: Just for Book Riot readers: sign up for an Audible account, and get two audiobooks free right now!
FREE AUDIOBOOK COLLECTIONS
This is the bonus of the audiobook world. Here’s a list of sites where you can get free audiobooks—mostly works in the public domain—to download to your device or listen on your web browser.
Lit2Go—Lit2Go has a collection of works tailored for classroom use. Each free audiobook comes with citation information, play time, and word count.
Mind Webs—Mind Webs was an old-time radio dramatization of more than 150 classic science fiction short stories. Now it’s an online collection. Get your fix of Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Kurt Vonnegut.
Open Culture—Open Culture is a one-stop shop for all free audiobooks. They’ve neatly listed every title, sorted by author, and given links to where to download or stream.
Project Gutenberg—Project Gutenberg is the go-to for books in the public domain, but with a twist: Do you want your books read by computer or human?
Scribl—Scribl is a great place if you’re looking for fresh, indie audiobooks, often read by the authors themselves. The newest books are free, and after a time, they’re crowdpriced—based on number of reads and ratings. Popular books cost about what they would at retailer.
Spotify—Spotify jumped on the audiobook train and has the usual suspects up for free: Classics and other works in the public domain.
Storynory—Storynory is great for audiobooks for kids. Classics and fairy tales rule the roost here, but there’s also a wide selection of original stories exclusive to Storynory.
Sync—Sync is a summer audiobook program for teens (or adults, really), hosted by Overdrive. In 2017, they paired contemporary young adult novels with classics (Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper with Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis) or current event nonfiction (Dan Poblocki’s The Gathering with Nita Belles’ In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It).
If a subscription doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, or you’re just not into the whole digital thing, you can find audiobooks on CD at your regular bookstore or library. You can download the audiobook CD onto your computer and sync to your device.
But you want to listen seamlessly to audiobook files, not music files, where you don’t have to bring a sticky note with you to remember the exact hour:minute:second where you left off listening?
There’s an app for that. Bound ($3.99 for Apple) is beloved for converting audio files from the cloud into audiobook files to listen on your device of choice. Bookmobile is similar, with a 60-day free trial followed by a $3.99 in-app purchase. If you’re on an Android, head over to Smart Audiobook App (free first month, then $2 for full version).
Now go forth and listen! What do you think are the best audiobook apps?