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The Best Audiobook Stores

Where Can You Find the Best Audiobook Listening Service?

The world of audiobooks has seen huge growth over the past decade, with industry surveys showing a double-digit increase for ten years in a row with no signs of slowing down. Various platforms for listening to audiobooks have popped up, each one catering to different user needs, budgets, and preferences.

The recent boom in the popularity of audiobooks can be attributed to a few different factors, but one of the biggest reasons is how well they fit into our busy, multitasking lives. You can listen while you're commuting, working out, or even doing household chores like folding the laundry. It's a great way to access intellectually engaging entertainment while getting some drudgery done.

Thursday, July 18th

2024 Audiobook Store Reviews

Libby Review Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award 5 Star Rating

Libby

5 Star Rating Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Libby, developed by OverDrive, is a free audiobook service that allows you to borrow digital content from your local library. You can stream titles or download them to listen offline, and all you need to get started is a library card. Libby's homepage is tailored to each library's patrons, making it easy to stay connected to your community and local events. The size of the catalog depends on your local library, but there are often tens of thousands of titles available. Libby offers a complete range of playback features, intuitive categorization, and personal touches like a customizable logo. It's a great service for those who love audiobooks and want to support their local library. Libby easily earns a first-place finish.

Hoopla Review 4.5 Star Rating

Hoopla

4.5 Star Rating

While other library-based audiobook services let you borrow a digital copy just like you would a physical one, complete with having to wait on copies checked out by other patrons, Hoopla stands out with "Instant Borrows" - titles that multiple users can access at once without any wait time, symbolized by a lightning icon. They also have "Flex Borrows," symbolized by circling arrows, which are more like traditional borrows where you might have to wait if another user has the title. The app's interface has some quirks, especially involving skipping backwards, but we love Hoopla's wide range of content types, from audiobooks to movies and TV shows.

Libro Review 4.5 Star Rating

Libro

4.5 Star Rating

Libro is an audiobook platform that partners with independent bookstores, sharing revenue from each purchase and supporting local communities. They offer a DRM-free model, allowing users to listen to their audiobooks however they want. Users can choose the indie bookstore they want to support when they make a purchase, and for every purchase, the store receives 15% of what was spent. Memberships cost $14.99 per month and come with one credit for an audiobook of the user's choice, with a 30% discount on additional purchases. Libro offers promotions, a sale category for discounted titles, and playlists curated by indie bookstores. They recently expanded internationally, and their platform is a great choice for those who want to support small businesses and value ethical spending.

Downpour Review 4 Star Rating

Downpour

4 Star Rating

Downpour is an audiobook service that offers everything from interactive choose-your-own-adventure audiobooks to hardcovers and paperbacks. Their library includes over 80,000 audiobook titles, with new ones being added regularly. Downpour offers a single subscription plan that includes one credit per month for $12.99 and lets you try it for free for 30 days. You can also rent titles for 30-60 days if you don't want to own them outright. Downpour is committed to letting customers listen to their audiobooks however they want, with no DRM restrictions. They're known for their excellent customer service and ethical business practices.

Audible Review 3.5 Star Rating

Audible

3.5 Star Rating

Audible offers a vast collection of audiobooks, sleep programs, radio dramas, theater, and exclusive "Audible Originals." They offer a 30-day free trial with one free credit to redeem for any audiobook of your choice. If you decide to continue with a paid subscription, they offer two tiers: "Audible Plus" for $7.95/month and "Premium Plus" for $14.95/month. Premium Plus members receive unlimited access to Audible's Plus Catalog, which includes audiobooks, podcasts, and Audible Originals, plus one monthly credit and 30% off any additional titles. The platform offers standard playback features, Whispersync technology, and even recommendations from their editors. Despite its vast catalog and quality audiobooks, some have criticized its exclusivity and high prices.

Everand Review 3.5 Star Rating

Everand

3.5 Star Rating

Everand, formerly Scribd, operates as a subscription-based digital service, offering a wide array of audiobooks, e-books, magazines, and articles for $11.99 per month. Everand is a great choice for audiobook lovers who want to avoid pricey, credit-based platforms. Unlike some competitors, they don't require credits for book selection and even offer a 30-day free trial. While the audio quality of their audiobooks may not be as high as other platforms, most users don't seem to mind. Everand also has user-friendly playback options and fantastic book recommendations. However, keep in mind that they may limit access to certain titles as the month progresses, but they will renew with your next monthly subscription. Overall, if you consume a moderate number of audiobooks, Everand is definitely worth checking out.

Audiobooks Review 3 Star Rating

Audiobooks

3 Star Rating

Audiobooks has a subscription-based business model that allows members to choose from a curated selection of VIP Rewards books to download for free each month, in addition to receiving one credit that can be used to purchase any audiobook from their catalog, all for $14.95. They also offer a unique feature called Audiobook Clubs which allows members to use their credit to binge-listen to unlimited audiobooks in a category of their choosing. However, their refund policy is strict and users cannot download their purchases in preferred formats. Overall, while there are some intriguing features, Audiobooks does not have an edge over similar services.

Barnes & Noble Review 3 Star Rating

Barnes & Noble

3 Star Rating

Barnes & Noble Audiobooks offers a credit-based subscription model for $14.99 per month, which includes a single credit to purchase a title. They also offer a 30-day free trial with one free credit. They have a respectable catalog of 300,000 titles, the second-largest among competitors, and offer buy-one-get-one-50%-off deals on selected categories. However, their app is buggy, and they use DRM, which can limit long-term access to purchased content. You can listen to audiobooks through their website or NOOK app, but you can't purchase new titles directly from the app. Overall, Barnes & Noble Audiobooks is a decent choice for existing customers, but not the best option for new customers due to its limitations and less impressive features.

Book Lender Review 3 Star Rating

Book Lender

3 Star Rating

BookLender is a subscription-based service that lets you rent physical audiobooks, offering a nostalgic alternative to digital audiobook platforms. Members can choose from several plans based on the number of books they can check out at a time, with plans categorized into Limited and Unlimited. Unlimited plans let you order any number of books per month, which you can keep for as long as you like. Limited plans, on the other hand, allow you to check out only a certain number of titles each month and are cheaper than Unlimited plans. BookLender's catalog of 40,000 audiobook titles is smaller than other services, but they cater to bibliophiles who prefer physical media and seek a more cost-effective way to listen to audiobooks.

Chirp Review 3 Star Rating

Chirp

3 Star Rating

Chirp is an audiobook service that offers a pay-as-you-go model, meaning users only pay for individual audiobooks they want to purchase. They curate a selection of audiobooks across various genres and offer them at discounted promotional rates, including entire series of books for as little as $2 and up to $15. Chirp is easy to register for, and you don't need to enter payment information since there's no membership fee. Unfortunately, Chirp is only available in the US and Canada for now, and they use Digital Rights Management (DRM), which means you can't download audiobook files. Users have reported that the Chirp app can be glitchy, and customer service can be difficult to reach.

Audiobooks Now Review 2.5 Star Rating

Audiobooks Now

2.5 Star Rating

AudiobooksNow offers a subscription-based model, but also allows one-time purchases at typical retail prices. Members receive discounts of 35%-40% and can join the Club Pricing Plan for $5.99 per month, which grants access to 50% off the first audiobook purchase each month. There's also a "Free Audiobooks" category and a "Free Premium" section for subscribed members. Over 95% of their titles are DRM-free, but their selection is limited compared to leading platforms. The app is intermittently buggy, and the website has an outdated feel with a couple of typos. Overall, AudiobooksNow is below average among audiobook retailers.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

And, thanks to technological advancements, it's easier than ever to access audiobooks. It used to be that you had to confine yourself to a room with a CD player to listen to an audiobook, but now, anyone with a smartphone has thousands of audiobooks available at their fingertips. Plus, as audiobooks have grown in popularity, so has their production quality.

Audiobook narrators aren't merely reciting the words on the e-reader in front of them in the recording booth; they are acting out the story. Accomplished actors and seasoned voice artists can bring stories to life, adding an auditory dimension to characters and settings that can sometimes rival or surpass the imagination. Narrators are often chosen because the story resonates with them personally, adding an extra layer of emotion to the performance and making it feel more human.

For those apprehensive about putting on their headphones instead of picking up a book, it's worth addressing some common misconceptions about audiobooks. Contrary to the belief that listening to a book is "cheating" or less intellectually engaging than reading, many studies show that the comprehension levels between reading and listening are strikingly similar. What's more, audiobooks can be particularly beneficial for those with reading difficulties, allowing them to enjoy literature they might otherwise struggle with. They are not a replacement for traditional reading but rather a complementary medium, broadening the horizons of literary engagement.

When it comes to audiobook services, there are several types to choose from. First, there are library-based services which partner with local libraries to allow users to digitally borrow audiobooks. Much like a traditional library, you can "check out" titles for a specific time frame using your library card. However, be mindful that sought-after titles might have waiting lists. Another option is subscription-based services. With a recurring fee, usually monthly, users can access a broad range of audiobooks. Depending on the service, you might get a set number of credits to pick audiobooks each month or even enjoy unlimited listening. Lastly, there are pay-per-title services where, rather than a subscription, you buy each audiobook separately. While there's no monthly commitment, the upfront cost for each audiobook can be higher. The upside is that you typically get to keep the audiobook forever once you've bought it.

When deciding on the right audiobook service, several considerations can help guide your decision:

  • Cost: Determine your budget for audiobooks. Some services might have a higher monthly fee but offer more benefits, while others might be more cost-effective for infrequent listeners.
  • Subscription model: Evaluate if you'd prefer a monthly subscription, a pay-per-title approach, or a library-based system. Your listening habits (how many books you listen to each month) can help inform this choice.
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM): DRM policies can restrict how you use, transfer, and download audiobooks. Make sure the platform gives you the necessary flexibility and control, as owning a title doesn't always guarantee freedom over it. A more restrictive DRM can limit your ability to move titles between devices or even result in losing access to your books if the service shuts down. Choose platforms that respect your rights as a user.
  • Selection: Check the variety and volume of titles available, especially in genres or topics you prefer. Some services might excel in fiction, while others might cater more to non-fiction or educational content.
  • Trial period: See if the service offers a free trial. This can be a risk-free way to gauge the platform's interface, selection, and overall experience.
  • Usability: The user interface and ease of navigation are essential. You want a service that's intuitive and doesn't frustrate you every time you want to find a new book or pick up where you left off.
  • Offline listening: Be sure the platform lets you download titles for offline access, vital for travel or areas with spotty internet.
  • Playback features: Look for features like bookmarking, sleep timers, chapter navigation, and personalized recommendations that can enhance your listening experience.

If you want a detailed overview of the best audiobook services out there, Top Consumer Reviews has your back. We trust our ranked evaluations will guide you to the audiobook platform that best matches your listening habits and lifestyle!

The Best Audiobook Stores Compare Audiobook Stores Compare Audiobook Store Reviews What are the best Audiobook Stores Best Audiobook Store Reviews

Audiobook Store FAQ

It's exactly what you'd think: an audio recording of a narrator reading a novel, biography, or any other printed work. Some audiobooks are strictly narration, while others incorporate sound effects and other engineering to enrich the listening experience.
It's hard to multitask with a printed book in your hand, but listening to an audiobook gives people more freedom. Driving while listening to a self-help book, enjoying a thriller while on the treadmill, or relaxing outdoors while having a favorite narrator read the latest bestseller are just a few ways book-lovers can essentially have their cake and eat it too. Plus, for anyone who struggles to read print - because of dyslexia, vision impairment, and so on - audiobooks are a must.
A better question might be "what titles can't you get" ! From classic stories like Pollyanna and Dracula to the top 10 books on the NYT Best Sellers list, the possibilities are nearly endless. History buffs, sci-fi fanatics, autobiography lovers, romance addicts, and every other type of reader can find what they're looking for when it comes to audiobooks.
You can do either one - or both! Some audiobook services are subscription-based, giving you access to a certain number of titles for your monthly fee. Others provide titles a la carte, so you buy only what you want, when you want. There are even audiobook providers that let you rent what you read!
Not really. You can expect to pay anywhere from $3 to $30 for a single title, comparable to what you'd pay for the book itself. If you choose a membership service, fees usually range from $10 to $30 per month, depending on how many titles you'd like to have at any given time.
Not usually. You can stream titles if you prefer, but most audiobook platforms allow you to download the title to your phone or computer for offline listening. Of course, you'll need to be connected to the internet to select your book and download it, but you're free to disconnect once you have the title saved to your device.
That depends, both on the audiobook service you select and the app or platform you use for listening (and sometimes those two aspects are integrated). Some listeners appreciate being able to listen to titles at twice the speed (even though it comes out a little like a chipmunk!). You can also find services that let you sync up an audiobook with the print title, letting you essentially follow along in the book while it's read to you.
This is a hotly-debated topic! Some people say that audiobooks are a "lazy" way of reading - or that they don't even count as "reading" a book because you don't use your eyes on a page. Others fiercely advocate for audiobooks as an effective method of letting all people love books, even if the actual act of reading the words isn't part of the process. At the end of the day, if you enjoy audiobooks as a part of your life, we say "keep listening!"
The Best Reviews of Audiobook Stores