Audiobooks have soared in popularity in recent years. When it comes to audiobook services, Amazon’s Audible is the industry leader but there are many other services offering unique benefits and compelling reasons to use their platforms. In this guide, we review ten of the best audiobook platforms – including Audible – and dig into their pros and cons so that we can ultimately answer the question: what is the best audiobook service? Lastly, many of these services offer a free trial or some other incentive for signing up, so you can be sure we’ll let you know how you can access these offers.
- Audible – an unmatched selection
- Audiobooks.com – curated booklists
- Blinkist – professional book summaries
- Chirp Books – discounted audiobooks
- Downpour – DRM-free audiobooks
- Graphic Audio – full cast dramatized audiobooks
- Kobo – a cheap monthly subscription
- Libby – free audiobooks from the library
- Libro.fm – support your local bookstore
- Scribd – unlimited listening (with restrictions)
- Verdict – What is the best audiobook service?
Audible – an unmatched selection
How Audible works:
Audible is an audiobook service owned by Amazon that allows users to purchase and stream audiobooks and other forms of spoken word content. While audiobooks can be purchased individually, most Audible users have a membership, for which there are two main types:
- Audible Plus: a monthly membership that includes access to unlimited streaming and listening from the Audible Plus Catalog. Click here to check out the Audible Plus Catalog on Amazon to see which titles are included.
- Audible Premium Plus: includes everything in Audible Plus, with the added bonus of 1 or 2 credits per month to be used to redeem any title from the Premium selections catalog.
- 30-day Audible free trial includes 1 premium title and access to the Audible Plus catalog.
- Catalog 400,000+ titles.
- Audible exclusives (e.g. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah).
- Member-only discounts and sales.
- Easy returns.
- Alexa and Kindle integration.
- International sites (e.g. Australia, Canada, and United Kingdom).
- There are cheaper options.
- Some people don’t like to support Amazon.
Membership plans include:
- Audible Plus: $7.95 a month
- Audible Premium Plus – 1 Credit: $14.95 a month
- Audible Premium Plus – 2 Credits: $22.95 a month
- Audible Premium Plus Annual – 12 Credits: $149.50
- Audible Premium Plus Annual – 24 Credits: $229.50
Note: all costs in this guide are in US dollars unless stated otherwise.
Get started with Audible:
- Visit Audible.com and sign up for a 30-day free trial.
- If you enjoy your Audible trial, do nothing and your membership will automatically continue. Audible will send you an email reminder before your trial ends, that way you won’t have any unexpected charges.
- You can cancel Audible online anytime before your trial ends and you won’t be charged.
Audiobooks.com – curated booklists
How Audiobooks.com works:
Audiobooks.com is an audiobook service similar to Audible where audiobooks and other forms of spoken word content can be purchased individually, or under a subscription model where you receive credits with an Audiobooks.com membership. Read our Audiobooks.com review to learn more about the service.
- 30-day Audiobooks.com free trial includes 3 audiobooks (1 premium and 2 VIP titles).
- Catalog 300,000+ titles.
- Member-only discounts and sales.
- An excellent app includes easy access to audio news, audio magazines, and sleep & meditation audio content.
- Curated book lists make it easy to find a great listen.
- Unlimited listening with Audiobook Clubs.
- Membership includes 1 VIP title each month.
- VIP selection may not always have anything of interest to you.
- There are cheaper options.
- Membership $14.95 a month for 1 credit.
- Additional credits can be purchased as needed.
Get started with Audiobooks.com:
- Visit Audiobooks.com and sign up for a 30-day free trial.
- You will get your first 3 audiobooks free with 1 book from the entire catalog of 300,000+ premium titles plus 2 audiobooks from the VIP selection.
- You can cancel anytime during those 30 days. Once your free trial has expired, your monthly subscription fee will be automatically charged to the billing information on your account, and you can continue to enjoy great audiobooks.
Blinkist – professional book summaries
How Blinkist works:
Blinkist is a professional book summary service that condenses the key ideas of popular nonfiction books and podcasts into short 15-minute explainers (“blinks”) to read or listen to.
- 7-day free trial and 20% discount on your first year.
- Catalog 5,000+ titles.
- Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in less time.
- Daily Pick is available for free.
- Kindle integration.
- Blinks are written in-house and don’t contain actual content from any of the books aside from the occasional pull quote.
- Blinks are limited by their format. In their FAQ, Blinkist writes, “Think of them as a robust movie trailer for books. Full-length books offer more in-depth discussion, rich examples, references, and explanations that Blinks can’t fit.”
- Membership $15.99 per month or $99.99 annual subscription (US customers).
- Other pricing for customers in Germany, the UK, Canada, and Australia.
Get started with Blinkist:
- Visit Blinkist.com and sign up for a free account.
- Enjoy unlimited access for 7 days. Blinkist will send you a reminder email on day 5 that your trial is ending.
- You can cancel your Blinkist membership at any time.
Chirp Books – discounted audiobooks
How Chirp works:
Chirp is an audiobook service that offers limited-time deals on popular audiobooks and no requirement to have a monthly subscription. Read our Chirp audiobooks review to learn more about the service.
- Cheap audiobooks with savings up to 95% off the regular price.
- Personalized daily emails will draw your attention to titles and deals you wouldn’t otherwise know about.
- No monthly subscription fees.
- Limited pricing options – if there is a specific title you want that is not on sale, the cost is likely cheaper on another service.
- Currently available in the United States and Canada only.
- No monthly fee.
- Cost for an individual audiobook varies depending on the title and whether or not it’s on sale.
Get started with Chirp:
- Visit Chirp Books and create a free account.
- Pick what types of audiobooks you enjoy and Chirp will start sending you a daily email with audiobook deals.
- Get 30% off your first Chirp purchase with our discount code: AUDIOBOOKADDICTS30
Downpour – DRM-free audiobooks
How Downpour works:
Downpour is an audiobook service from Blackstone Audio, one of the largest independent audiobook publishers in the United States. Downpour offers a very similar membership proposition to Audible where you pay a monthly fee and a get credit to pay for any audiobook in its library.
- 30-day free trial includes 1 free credit.
- Monthly subscription price is cheaper than most competitors.
- Regular deals and sales.
- DRM-free audiobooks.
- Ability to rent audiobooks for a reduced price.
- Some titles cost 2 credits.
- Rental option is not available for all titles.
- There is one cheaper alternative for a monthly subscription (Kobo).
- Membership $12.99 per month.
- Visit Downpour.com and sign up for a 30-day free trial.
- Every month your account will be charged the membership fee of $12.99 and you will receive 1 download credit in your account.
- You can cancel your membership at any time.
Graphic Audio – full cast dramatized audiobooks
“GraphicAudio sets the gold standard for full-cast dramatizations, and new listeners will become instant fans.” – Audiofile Magazine
How Graphic Audio works:
Graphic Audio is an audiobook publishing imprint of RBMedia, one of the largest audiobook producers in the world. Graphic Audio has the tagline “A Movie In Your Mind” as their audiobooks include a full cast of actors, narration, sound effects, and cinematic music.
Graphic Audio pros:
- Catalog 1,600+ titles and 180+ different series.
- High-quality full-cast dramatizations with cinematic music and immersive sound effects.
- Audiobooks are available DRM-free if you are willing to pay a couple of extra dollars per title.
- Regular deals and sales.
- Earn Loyalty Reward Points to use toward a Graphic Audio title or redeem what you have recently earned towards your next purchase.
Graphic Audio cons:
- Relatively expensive.
- Quality is hit and miss (make sure to read the reviews!).
Graphic Audio cost:
- Cost depends on the title.
Get started with Graphic Audio:
- Visit Graphic Audio and create a free account.
- Download the Graphic Audio app on your device and your purchase will be available to stream or download.
- Note: titles may be available through the library and other audiobook services.
- Learn more about Graphic Audio in the following video:
Kobo – a cheap monthly subscription
How Kobo works:
Kobo (an anagram of “book”) is a company that sells audiobooks, ebooks, readers, and tablet computers. Like many of the other services featured in this article, Kobo lets you purchase audiobooks individually or under a subscription model.
- 30-day free trial includes one free audiobook.
- The lowest monthly subscription price of the major audiobook services.
- Integration with Kobo Readers (see devices that support audiobooks).
- Members earn Kobo Super Points.
- Other services have larger catalogs.
- Audiobooks are available only for customers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
- Membership $9.99 per month for 1 credit.
- Additional audiobook credits are sold in a 3-pack only.
Get started with Kobo:
- Visit Kobo and sign up for a 30-day free trial.
- Once your free trial is complete, you’ll be automatically enrolled into a Kobo subscription plan, where you’ll receive one credit every month for $9.99. On your recurring billing date we’ll add the credit to your account, which you can exchange for an audiobook any time.
- Cancel anytime.
Libby – free audiobooks from the library
How Libby works:
Libby lets you borrow audiobooks with a library card making it a great way to listen to audiobooks for free. Availability of certain titles will depend on factors including the size of your library, how popular a title is, and how many audiobooks are stocked.
- Free audiobooks!
- Audiobook titles may not be available or have a waiting period until they are (particularly if the title is a new release or a recent bestseller).
Get started with Libby:
- Libby is available for Android, iOS, Windows 10, some Chromebooks, and in your browser at libbyapp.com.
- Note: Hoopla is another popular option for borrowing audiobooks from the library.
- The following video is a helpful guide to getting started with Libby:
Libro.fm – support your local bookstore
How Libro.fm works:
Libro.fm makes it possible for you to buy audiobooks directly through your local bookstore. As part of the sign-up process, you’ll choose the independent bookstore you want to support with future purchases and Libro.fm will split profits with this bookstore. Read our Libro.fm review to learn more about the service.
- Free account and bonus audiobook on sign up for Libro.fm membership.
- Catalog 250,000+ titles.
- Support your local bookstore as Libro.fm splits its profits with an independent bookstore of your choice.
- Playlists curated by booksellers, the Libro.fm team, influencers, and others.
- DRM-free audiobooks give you the freedom to listen to your audiobook on any device.
- Monthly memberships are currently available only to customers in the U.S. and Canada. International listeners can buy audiobooks à la carte and purchase gift memberships.
- Membership $14.99 per month.
- Visit Libro.fm and create a free account.
- If you are an avid audiobook listener, you can sign up for a monthly subscription with the code CHOOSEINDIE and Libro.fm will give you a bonus audiobook. That means you’ll have 2 audiobook credits to redeem from the start.
- Libro.fm also offers à la carte purchases for occasional or international listeners.
- Watch the following video to learn more about the audiobook service:
Scribd – unlimited listening (with restrictions)
“Like Netflix for word wonks.” – Stephen King
How Scribd works:
Scribd is a subscription service that provides members access to millions of audiobooks, ebooks, magazines, comics, and sheet music selections.
- Catalog 200,000+ audiobooks.
- Other digital media including ebooks, magazines, comics, and sheet music.
- Restrictions on certain titles may apply.
- Membership $9.99 per month.
Get started with Scribd:
- Visit Scribd and create a basic, free account.
- You can then activate a free trial of the premium membership for 30 days to get access to Scribd’s library of content.
- Cancel anytime.
- Watch the following video to learn more about Scribd:
Verdict – What is the best audiobook service?
What is the best audiobook service? Really, it depends on what you value in an audiobook platform. Each featured audiobook service has its pros and cons, so perhaps the better question to ask yourself is: what is the best audiobook service for me? Here are my picks based on based on the benefits we’ve reviewed:
- Best overall audiobook service – Audible for having the largest audiobook and spoken-word catalog, easy return policy, and Audible Plus selection.
- Best value audiobook service – Scribd for the massive digital media library (including ebooks, magazines, comics, and sheet music selections) and low monthly fee.
- Best audiobook app – Audiobooks.com for its easy-to-use app which includes helpful curated book lists and various audio content (podcasts, audio news & magazines, and sleep & meditation audio).
- Best free audiobook service – Libby for making it easy to borrow audiobooks from the library.
- Best niche audiobook service – Graphic Audio for its high quality, full-cast audiobooks and Blinkist for its professional book summaries.
- Best service for DRM-free audiobooks – Downpour and Libro.fm for offering all titles DRM-free.
- Audiobook service with the cheapest membership – Kobo for its low $9.99 monthly fee which gets you 1 credit.
- Audiobook service with the best deals – Chirp for it’s limited-time deals with big savings. Note: you can save even more with our discount code: AUDIOBOOKADDICTS30
- My personal favorite – Libro.fm for its bookseller recommendations and support for independent bookstores.
What do you think is the best audiobook service? Why?