Audiobooks are continuously growing in popularity, so much so that the US edition of Amazon’s Audible has announced that it has released a curated collection of audiobooks titled Audible for Dogs, meaning your pups can now enjoy audiobooks too.
But although Audible might be the most well-known audiobook service, it certainly isn’t the only one. There are many audiobook services with varying catalogues and differing benefits. Some require a subscription, whilst others are free of charge.
Google has now added audiobooks to Google Play, although there's no subscription service: you buy what you want to read. It says it is rolling out audiobooks in 45 countries and nine languages.
We round-up the best audiobook services available today.
What would a list of audiobook services be without the inclusion of Audible? The champion of audiobook services, Audible has the broadest catalogue of audiobooks available so is, by necessity, the first choice for any audiobook fanatic.
Audible’s repertoire of audiobooks are wide-ranging, often including differing variations of the same book, such as radio-play dramatizations, abridged editions, and versions with multiple narrators. They are mostly high quality audiobooks with high production values.
You can download them in the app for offline listening so you can bring your audiobooks with you. The app also includes incremental rewinding or fast forwarding, changing the narration speed, navigating by chapter, and the ability to bookmark and create clips.
Audible gives you a 30-day free trial including a free book, so you can try it out for yourself and see if you like it.
It is £7.99 a month on the basic one-book per month plan, and £14.99 a month on the two-book per month plan.
There's no problem if you don’t use your credits for a month or two - they can stack up to either six- or 12 credits depending on your subscription choice. However, if you cancel your membership you will lose all your credits.
You can pause your membership if you want to cancel your subscription but you still have credits remaining.
Overdrive is a borrowing service that lets you borrow audiobooks and e-books using your local library, meaning that all content is subject to what your library currently has.
You can put in as many different library card details as you want and these libraries will be organised into a shelf. Content is limited but all of these books are free to borrow. If your library doesn’t have it, you can request the audiobook from inside the app.
The app’s interface is very intuitive as it lets you swap between different libraries quickly and simply. Your bookshelf can put together different libraries’ audiobooks without you having to do anything at all.
A good, cost-saving tip would be to use Overdrive in conjunction with Audible. You can check Overdrive to see if your library has the audiobook available, and if it does, you don’t need to waste a credit on an Audible purchase; instead you can save the credit for something that Overdrive doesn’t have.
One drawback is that you need to sign up for memberships at different libraries if you want the widest selection of audiobooks.
Downpour’s UK selection of audiobooks is fairly slim but it has one key feature that makes it worth a look: all Downpour’s audiobooks are DRM-free, meaning you can save them to whatever device or application you want. You aren’t locked into listening to your audiobooks on any specific app.
Downpour’s subscription is also cheaper than Audible’s service, and it has an additional rental service. So although Audible holds 90% of the audiobook market, Downpour is still able to compete in some capacity.
Unlike Audible, Apple’s iBooks/iTunes has no subscription membership. With Apple’s audiobooks, you just buy whichever books you want to listen to. You can access Apple’s collection by going to the iBooks app and tapping on the Audiobooks tab.
Audible is the sole supplier to Apple’s library of audiobooks, so it has a very wide selection of high quality content. Apple also has free audiobooks from services like LibriVox and Project Gutenberg, making its selection actually wider than Audible’s own.
Apple’s selection of audiobooks are also often cheaper than Audible’s. Taking a look through Apple’s audiobooks Top Charts and comparing it to Audible’s prices, we can see that Apple has fairly discounted audiobooks for exactly the same version of audiobook as Audible’s.
A Game of Thrones: Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin is £14.95 on iBooks, whilst it is £26.99 on Audible.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling is £14.99 on iBooks, whilst it is £27.49 on Audible.
If you’re not really looking to get an audiobook every month but just want one once in a blue moon, buy it from Apple. If you can commit to reading one a month, go for Audible.
LibriVox’s audiobooks are in no way professionally produced, but are read by volunteers. They are free for you to download because all of the books are in the free public domain, having gone out of copyright. So as well as being freely available as audiobooks, they are also free as e-books.
Most of the books are classical literature, with works by authors like William Shakespeare, George Orwell and H.G. Wells.
If you don’t want to pay for audiobooks at all and love classic literature there are a bunch of different apps which use LibriVox’s audiobook as the source of their content.
What’s great about LibriVox is that you can literally do anything with their audiobooks because they are out of copyright and in the public domain. You can save them anywhere, edit them or even sell them if you wanted.