If you’re looking to get lost in a gripping story or learn something new, look no further than audiobooks. After all, while it may be difficult to concentrate enough to read a physical book right nowthe beauty of listening to books is you can absorb the information without having to stare at the page or screen for hours on end.
Audiobooks can make any commute more enjoyable, but even if you’re working from home, there are many instances where you can listen: exercising, cooking, cleaning — any household task, really, where you don’t have to be listening to something else.
There are plenty of online retailers. Here are some of the best places to find audiobooks:
Audible is one of the most recognizable — if not the most recognizable — of the audiobook providers. With hundreds of thousands of book titles and original books and podcasts not available elsewhere, Audible is a top choice for audiobooks. Audible offers titles in a variety of languages, including Spanish and Chinese, and has over 13,000 language learning titles with over a dozen languages to choose from. Titles are available across the publishing spectrum, from major publishers to small presses.
The Audible Plus membership, which the site recommends for those who enjoy podcasts and short-form content, is $7.95 a month and includes access to the Audible Plus catalog. The Plus catalog comprises podcasts and Audible Originals, which include books that exist solely on the platform, as well as sleep and meditation tracks. Audible Plus members can listen to as many as they want, as much as they want.
The next level up is Audible Premium Plus, which starts at $14.95 a month for one credit. (Each audiobook costs one credit.) Two credits a month costs $22.95 each cycle. If you’d rather pay annually, you can purchase a Premium Plus membership with 12 annual credits for $149.50 or 24 credits for $229.50. Your Audible Library will maintain whatever you purchase forever, even if you cancel the membership, and you can listen as many times as you’d like.
Another Audible benefit besides its vast library is the accessibility of its app. It’s available on iOS, Android, Windows 10, Mac OS, and there’s car mode, which enables a screen with only three buttons (play/pause; go back 30 seconds; and add a bookmark), for easy listening while driving. As Audible is owned by Amazon, it’s also possible to listen to it on Alexa and the Kindle and Fire tablets.
If you have Feelings about Amazon and would rather choose an unaffiliated audiobook provider, don’t worry, there are others for the taking. If you’re curious, though, you can try Audible Plus and Audible Premium Plus free for 30 days.
If you’re looking for a non-Amazon Audible alternative, this one’s for you. Audiobooks.com boasts over 250,000 titles from a variety of publishers and languages (including Spanish and French) and millions of free podcasts available on their app, which is available on both iOS and Android. For $14.95 a month, you’ll receive one book credit from their “premium” section — books that cost the same as a la carte audiobooks, including top titles — as well as a second book from their curated “VIP” section, an assortment of old and new books across genres. Their VIP section refreshes every month, and each book you choose will remain in your library as long as you’re subscribed for as many listens as you want.
Audiobooks.com has a free 30-day trial available that gives you one premium and two VIP books (three books total). Additionally, members have access to free audio news, magazines, and sleep and meditation content. This site also features deals for memberssuch as 2-for-1 bestsellers.
Good news for both iPhone and Android users: You can buy audiobooks without a third-party app. The interfaces are similar to buying apps on the Google Play store and buying songs on Apple Music. Both have bestseller lists and other category lists (such as “Read Before You Watch” on Apple to read something that’s been adapted, or “Advice for a Better Life” for self-help books on Google), so you can explore to find your next read.
A beginner’s guide to listening to audiobooks
Some options on Google are free while others on Apple are just $4.99; the average across both seems to hover around $15 to $21 per audiobook.
This is my favorite audiobook offering on this list, and not just because it’s free (you’ll just need your library card). OverDrive, which is available both on its own and on the Libby-app,brings your local library to your phone (or tablet or computer).
Here’s how it works: Find your nearest library, input your card information, and you’ll have thousands of audiobooks (and e-books) accessible for free. There may be a waitlist for some content. In those cases, OverDrive will tell you where you are on the waitlist and estimated wait times. You have the option of renting e- and audiobooks for one, two, or three weeks.
In my experience, both apps are great. If you want to find audiobooks from only public libraries, try Libby; if you want local libraries and school libraries and the like, try OverDrive. OverDrive also offers Soraa similar library app geared toward children.
Similar to OverDrive, Hoopla’s user is the “public library pattern.” The company has partnered with public libraries across the United States and Canada to provide not just audiobooks but also e-books, music, movies, and TV shows. Once you sign up with your library card, you’ll be able to access content on their browser or app, which is available on iOS and Android. While OverDrive partners with public as well as other libraries, such as those in universities, Hoopla focuses solely on public libraries.
If you already support your local library with OverDrive or Hoopla and now want to support your local bookstore, Libro.fm may be the choice for you. When you buy audiobooks on the platform, Book.fm splits the profits with an independent bookstore of your choice. If your favorite store isn’t on the list, email [email protected], and Book will see if they want to become a partner. According to the FAQ, they’ve partnered with over 1,300 bookstores thus far.
Another unique factor to Libro.fm is that you can either choose a membership for $14.99 a month that includes one book credit or you can just buy audiobooks a la carte. While other services on this list offer the latter, it’s usually coupled with the former. Book.fm’s app is available on iOS and Android.
Whether you want to listen in your car, snag audiobooks for free, or help your favorite bookstore, there’s a platform right for you. Here’s to never doing chores in silence again.