Sometimes there’s nothing quite like a good audiobook to lull you to sleep or turn a boring journey into a relaxing hour or two with your favorite book. A good audiobook deserves a great app player, but there are a lot of audiobook players out there — most with very similar names — so choosing one can get frustrating. We’ll make it easy: Here are the best audiobook apps and what audiobook services they work with. We’ll also point out any features we especially love.
Note: Most of these audiobook players are free, but some may require an in-app purchase to unlock features, or a subscription service to download particular books.
We’ll kick off with one of the most popular audiobook — and reading — apps out there. Google Play Books lets you listen to your purchased audiobooks across a range of platforms and devices, from your iPad to your Android phone. The app stores your progress, so it’s easy to pick up reading where you left off, and the controls are intuitive, allowing you to easily skip ahead, jump to a specific chapter, or configure playback speed. There’s a handy snooze timer, for those who like to read in bed.
The app is totally free and there’s no subscription — just preview audiobooks in the Google Play Books store, then choose what you’d like to buy and download it to your account. We love that the preview feature exists, as there’s nothing worse than downloading an audiobook only to find the narrator’s voice dull or jarring. Go to your library and you’ll automatically be shown a list of audiobook versions of books you’ve recently read or have in your wishlist — pretty handy. What’s more, audiobooks in the Play book store are often priced lower than on Audible — and there’s a wide range of free books too, perfect for that week before payday or discovering new authors or genres.
Audible is a popular audiobook publisher (owned by Amazon and compatible with Amazon devices like newer Kindles), and its own app is still the most popular audiobook player around, with over 450,000 titles in its audio library. That’s one of the largest available, and includes the most recent and bestselling books, as well as plenty of newspapers and magazines.
You can choose from two memberships to access Audible’s top-notch collections, both with a 30-day free trial that allows you to test out the player first. Audible Plus costs $8 per month and gives you a credit to exchange for any audiobook, as well as unlimited streaming and listening to content in the Audible Plus catalog — anything that’s marked with the “included” tag. You can save titles to your library or download them for offline listening.
Audible Premium Plus costs $15 per month and gives you all the benefits of Plus as well as a bonus credit per month, which can be redeemed against any title in the Premium selections. You’ll also get a 30% discount on any additional content purchased from the Premium catalog, which includes bestsellers and the latest releases, as well as exclusive Audible Originals. If you’re an avid reader, it’s probably worth investing in Premium Plus as the bonus credit and 30% discount will save you money in the longer term.
The audiobook player is solid, offering bookmarks, variable playback speed, chapter navigation, and a handy sleep mode — plus multitasking mode for background downloading and playback. Those with a Kindle can pay a small fee to Amazon to upgrade a Kindle e-book to an Audible audiobook, great if you want someone to read to you rather than doing the hard work yourself. The handy Whispersync feature lets you switch between audiobook and text, and there’s integration for Amazon Alexa, which will read your Audible audiobooks through your smart speaker. It’s worth noting that books might seem a bit more expensive than on some other audiobook apps — but Audible generally has the widest available selection, so if you’re looking for more obscure titles or new releases, this is the place to find them.
Kobo Books may not have as big a library as Audible, but you’ll still find a fairly extensive library of audiobooks (and e-books) to choose from in the app. The player is pretty basic, with chapter navigation, playback speed configuration, a timeline scrubber bar, and a snooze timer, which makes it a breeze to use.
If you’re new to Kobo you’ll get a 30-day free trial and your first audiobook for free, after which you can subscribe for $10 a month. The subscription works similarly to Audible, giving you credit for an audiobook each month, but you may find you’re unable to get the books you want, depending on your region. Books that are readily available in the U.S. may not be on the Kobo U.K. app, and vice versa. Your audiobooks are yours to keep, even if you cancel your subscription, and you can pick up Kobo Originals, exclusive audiobooks created for Kobo that aren’t available elsewhere. This is often an excellent way to discover a new author you’ve never heard of or try out a new genre. Most audiobooks allow you to listen to a sample before you buy, and the app supports 11 languages
If we had a criticism it’s that the app doesn’t even let you browse the store without first subscribing — although you can always go for the 30-day free trial to see what’s on offer.
Downpour boasts over 80,000 audiobook titles in its catalog, with everything from contemporary to classic fiction and non-fiction represented — so whether you’re a Karin Slaughter fan or can’t read enough George Orwell, you won’t run out of reading material.
The player itself syncs across all your devices and supports offline listening, once you’ve downloaded your audiobook. There are variable speed playback and chaptered tracks as well as the option to add bookmarks and notes to anything memorable, which is a nice feature. The sleep timer comes in handy if you’re a bedtime reader, and books seem reasonably priced. If you don’t want to spend your hard-earned cash on audiobooks — or if storage space on your device is limited — Downpour offers an audiobook rental service, which lets you save up to 70% compared to buying audiobooks. You get between 30-60 days to complete your book, after which it’s automatically returned and deleted from your device.
If we had to find fault, the search function in the Android app is a little glitchy. You type in what you’re looking for, without being able to see what you’re typing on the screen. The Android app has also received some rather mixed reviews of late, with reports of the app crashing frequently, but hopefully, future updates will address this.
Nevertheless, for those who don’t want the cost of a monthly subscription or anybody who prefers to rent rather than buy audiobooks, Downpour is a solid option.
Scribd is one of the most popular audiobooks apps around — and for good reason. Its library contains over 1 million titles including audiobooks, magazines, books, and even sheet music, with everything from bestsellers to classics.
To access all this, you’ll need to subscribe, which starts at $10 per month for an “Unlimited” subscription. This gets you access to the catalog of titles, as well as an intuitive player with customizable narration speed and a sleep timer, offline mode, and syncing across all your devices.
One thing that Scribd doesn’t point out — and that many users have mentioned in their reviews — is that its Unlimited membership actually comes with a caveat: You can only read a few new or popular releases each month. Read through the backlist to your heart’s content, but don’t expect to purchase more than three or four bestsellers — and your allowance doesn’t renew until the next billing cycle.
For those who don’t read as frequently, this will probably suit just fine, but if you’re an avid bookworm keen to listen to the most recent releases, then you may want to get your audiobook fix elsewhere.
Hoopla Digital is a bit different from the other apps on our list, as you can’t actually buy any audiobooks through the app. Instead, you get access — through your local public library — to a digital library of over 800,000 titles, which includes e-books, audiobooks, comics, music, TV shows, and movies. If you’re the kind of person who prefers one app that does it all, and don’t mind renting content, this is a good choice — not to mention, all rentals are free.
The audiobook selection is a good mix of bestsellers and classics, although you may struggle to find some more obscure or recently published titles. You can check out 30 items a month (a combination of any type of content you like) and once the rental period is up, items are automatically returned and deleted from your devices.
Offline mode lets you download audiobooks and other content for reading and listening at any time, or you can stream content with a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. The app syncs across a wide range of devices too, so you can stop reading on your iPhone and pick it up later on your iPad. The simple audio player isn’t as feature-packed as some, but it’s easy to use.
It’s worth noting that you will need to be a member of your local public library to use the app, as you need your membership number to sign up. Sadly, Hoopla Digital isn’t available in the U.K. so if you’re looking for an audiobook app and live there, you’ll need to try one of the other apps on our list.
With more than 200,000 titles, Audiobooks.com has shown a lot of growth recently, making it easier to recommend than ever. The service operates on a “credit” system — your first 30 days are free and you’ll get your first premium audiobook and two bonus books from the VIP section for free. Following the free trial, a subscription costs $15 per month, which gives you credit for one premium audiobook and one bonus book. It’s not the greatest purchase method, but the expanded library is excellent and you can keep all your purchased books, even if you cancel your subscription.
There are over 8,000 free titles, so plenty to listen to if you’re on a budget, and we love the Smart Recommendations feature, which learns what you like and curates picks to suit your tastes, helping you discover a new favorite book or author each month. Most books also have a free audio sample, so you can listen for around five minutes before deciding to buy. The app also includes access to over 1.2 million podcasts, so if you’re looking for an app that does double duty as an audiobook and podcast player, look no further.
We like the speedy interface, which has a good bookmarking system (plus compatibility with the Apple Watch). However, the controls are pretty tiny and not very suitable for in-depth control while driving or exercising. The newly added Sleep Section is worth mentioning too. As well as a sleep timer for bedtime reading, it includes sleep-related podcasts and soothing sleep sounds to help you nod off.
LibriVox is a free access service where all audiobooks are free to download and listen to, no strings attached. The library has over 50,000 audiobooks, including most of the classics, along with plenty of biographies, histories, and other public domain publications (the rating system helps when looking for high-quality options). It’s easy to search by keyword, title, author, or genre, or view the newest additions to the library.
The audio player is rather simplistic and doesn’t have a ton of features, but it’s well designed and gets the job done, with variable speed options, unlimited bookmarks, and a sleep timer. When possible, listen to a sample of the audio before you download, since all voice work is done by volunteers. We also have more info on free audiobooks and free book downloads including downloads for the iPad, if this is your jam.
Listen is one of the universal audiobook apps — a.k.a. an audio player without its own library of audiobooks to choose from — but it is designed to work with DRM-free audiobook files from any source. This is an advantage for listeners who like to review all available sources for their free book fix, but want one central location to hold them all.
Download DRM-free files from services like LibriVox or Downpour, or access the curated collection of classics in the app, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Listen’s interface is also very good, with options to adjust speed, remove silences, add bookmarks, switch to Bluetooth, set sleep timers, and even create your own skip times — and you can easily sync your reading position and bookmarks across all your devices.
Listen is only available for Android devices.
Bookmobile is an audiobook player that’s designed to work with all audio files from Apple Music, Audible, LibriVox, public library downloads, and other popular sources, including DRM-enabled and DRM-free files, M4B audiobooks, and MP3 audio files. You can also browse a huge library of podcasts, and create mixed playlists of podcasts and audiobooks, great for commuting or long journeys. You can try out Bookmobile for free for 60 days — and add up to five audiobooks — after which an in-app purchase unlocks the full experience for $4.
The app is also incredibly useful for drivers, with a simple interface that features large buttons and intuitive controls for skipping backward or forward with minimal effort — no dragging or sliders that can be tricky to adjust while at the wheel.
You can adjust play order priorities, combine multiple files into one archive file for easier management, customize skip settings, and more. There are a sleep timer and support for AirPlay, and the app boasts a clean, intuitive design. Bookmobile works best with Apple Music, and will take a bit more work if your audiobooks are stored elsewhere — and it’s only available on iOS.
Free Books — or My Books on iOS — is a hybrid app that combines free domain books in both e-book and audiobook form. This is particularly beneficial for those who want to read some books on their own time but listen to others without switching between apps. You can read e-books for free, but to listen to audiobooks, you’ll need to subscribe from $2 per month.
The audiobook selection is a little limited at around 50,000 but includes lots of classics, from Alice in Wonderland to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. For those looking to read more widely, this is a great app, but you won’t find more popular fiction, recent releases, or bestsellers here. Books are divided into a range of categories, including the banned books category, where you’ll find a fascinating collection of books that were once banned due to their controversial content.
The player is simplistic and doesn’t boast many of the customization features offered by many other apps on our list, but it works well enough and it’s easy to get started using the app. For those looking to read classics or older titles, this is a great choice.
Voice is an independent, open-source audio player designed to pick up any Android audiobook folder and let you play the books it finds there. The interface lacks some of the customization options of other players, opting instead for a more visually pleasant and minimalist approach. Lots of screen space is given to cover art and controls are focused on basic play, pause, and fast-forward.
However, you can still add bookmarks, switch between day and night modes, adjust playback speed, and set the sleep timer for those late-night reading sessions. It also works well for listening to your favorite podcasts, and uses minimal permissions on your device.
Audiobooks Now is another subscription service. It’s somewhat smaller than Audible or Audiobooks.com, with over 150,000 audiobooks, but also significantly less expensive. You can choose whether to buy books at the normal price (without a subscription) or enjoy a 30-day free trial of Club Pricing then pay $5 per month, which gets you your first audiobook of the month at 50% off then Club Price (35-40% off) for all other purchases. If you don’t use your 50% off, it rolls to the next month — simple! All members get access to a rewards program that gives you points on all your purchases that can be redeemed against audiobooks.
Audiobooks Now also has a strong stock of free and discounted books, with options available to stream or download as you choose. The player itself is, like other subscription players, easy to understand but tricky to use when driving. There are sleep timer controls, playback speed options, bookmarking, and other standard features, and you can stream audiobooks or download them to listen to later. The search function, however, is worth calling out for its easy browsing and the ability to play samples of the books you are viewing. It’s also worth noting that the app does get very mixed reviews, with some users praising its library of classic titles and others reporting issues with books disappearing from their device part-way through reading.
What makes this player “smart”? It has a few features not usually found on audiobook players, features that make the experience … well, more fun. Sure, the basics like playback speed control and a sleep timer are present. But the app also offers interesting tools like the ability to manually create your own list of characters while reading — particularly great if you’re a sci-fi or fantasy fan who’s always losing track of huge casts of characters — or easy ways to divide books into “started” and “haven’t started yet” categories.
You get a 30-day free trial of the full version, after which you can revert to the free basic version or pay $2 to unlock the full version — well worth the price of admission.
- Here’s a list of portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day
- Best board games 2021: For adults, families, two players, and more
- Best refurbished laptops deals and sales for August 2021
- The best Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra cases and covers
- This is how to get two free books at Audible