Audible Alternatives: The Best Audiobook Apps of 2022 – PCMag

Let these top-quality apps free you from the printed page and give you access to thousands of free books and library books.
My title is Senior Features Writer, which is a license to write about absolutely anything if I can connect it to technology (I can). I’ve been at PCMag since 2011 and have covered the surveillance state, vaccination cards, ghost guns, voting, ISIS, art, fashion, film, design, gender bias, and more. You might have seen me on TV talking about these topics or heard me on your commute home on the radio or a podcast. Or maybe you’ve just seen my Bernie meme
Storytelling began as a purely auditory art. Listening to a story can be an enthralling experience. And now, thousands of years after it first began, it can be a time-saving one. Audiobooks let you listen to novels, memoirs, and whatever else you like while you run errands, clean your home, or just lay down on the couch and close your eyes for a bit. Of course, they’re also essential for those who are visually impaired.
But before you press Play on that bestseller, you might want to first read up on choosing an app for your audiobooks. There are a lot of options out there and you might find that some are better suited to your needs and budget. 
We’ve put together a guide to a few favorites. There are choices for what are basically streaming services but for books, a couple of ways to use your library card for listening, and some apps that let you purchase books à la carte. Here are our top picks.
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The Apple Books app isn’t just for reading ebooks; it has a shop full of audiobooks available for download. It’s divided into handy lists according to genre, bestsellers, deals, and more. There’s also a section of free audiobooks, some of which are books in the public domain and others of which are more recent promotions. Books are purchasable one at a time. You can listen to a preview before you hand over your digital cash. Speaking of which, you pay with whatever payment method is stored with your Apple ID. You can play the audiobooks on an iOS device (including Apple Watch) and your Mac.
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Audible is the best-known of the audiobook apps, if only because it’s owned by Amazon. Because of its provenance, it has plenty of titles in stock—about 200,000 of them. Audible has two membership levels: Audible Plus ($7.95 per month) and Audible Premium Plus (starts at $14.95 per month). To join, you must have an Amazon account, though you do not need to be signed up for Amazon Prime. With each membership, you get full access to Audible Originals (audiobooks that are exclusive to Audible), podcasts, and some other content. You can purchase audiobooks with each, but with the premium subscription, you get credits that can be used toward them. Audible lets you listen on your phone, tablet, computer, Alexa, Sonos, or Kindle.
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Audiobooks.com boasts over 300,000 books, 10,000 of which are free. The service costs $14.95 a month and includes two audiobooks: one out of its regular catalog, and one from a new monthly list of VIP titles. You can purchase any additional books you want separately after that. Ten-minute samples of books give you a good idea if you want to commit to a purchase. The app has a section where you can store audio “notes” clipped out of audiobooks. The Audiobooks.com app works on iOS and Android and also includes podcasts and a small section of meditations.
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Chirp Audiobooks is perfect for those who don’t want a monthly subscription fee but still want a deal. Limited-time offers are all under $5 and frequently less. You can expect discounts of a few dollars on top titles. Chirp Audiobooks are playable on iOS, Android, and Alexa devices, as well as through a web browser on your computer.
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Google Play Books’ main focus is ebooks, but much like its counterpart Apple Books it also has audiobooks. There’s no membership fee, so you purchase books as you want them. You’ll find slight discounts on lots of popular titles and some books (mostly those in the public domain) that are free. Google Play Books is available as an iOS and Android app and also through a browser on computers.
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If you have a library card, you can probably listen to audiobooks on Hoopla for free. Hoopla has partnerships with libraries in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and if your library isn’t on their list, you can try emailing them at [email protected]. The audiobooks section of its app has all the features you’d expect, such as bookmarks and a sleep timer. Aside from audiobooks, Hoopla also has ebooks and even television shows. Hoopla works on iOS and Android as well as in browsers.
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Kobo’s ebook-focused app also includes audiobooks. With a $9.99 monthly subscription, you get one audiobook of your choice per month and can then purchase more after that. You can listen to Kobo audiobooks on iOS and Android devices.
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Much like Hoopla, Libby lets you borrow from your local library. It works with about 90% of libraries in North America. The signup process is easy and you might even be able to sign up for a library card in the process through a zip code and phone number search. The audiobook player has a sleep timer, bookmarks, and the ability to adjust the playback speed. You can listen to Libby audiobooks on iOS and Android devices.
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Plenty of good reading is in the public domain and LibriVox has lots of them (more than 50,000) in audiobook format read by volunteers. It’s really an act of love for literature all around. LibriVox has a sleep timer and lets you add bookmarks. You can play audiobooks on iOS and Android devices. You can also listen from a browser, but that only gives you the ability to play and pause.
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Barnes & Noble used to have a standalone Nook audiobook app, which is now combined with its Nook app that also has ebooks. There are more than 300,000 audiobooks to choose from and purchase individually, as well as about 10,000 that are free. You can also join B&N Audiobooks(Opens in a new window) for $14.99 a month, which entitles you to one book a month and savings on others. The audiobook app is available on iOS and Android devices and has all of the features you’d expect. You can also play your audiobooks through a browser.

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My title is Senior Features Writer, which is a license to write about absolutely anything if I can connect it to technology (I can). I’ve been at PCMag since 2011 and have covered the surveillance state, vaccination cards, ghost guns, voting, ISIS, art, fashion, film, design, gender bias, and more. You might have seen me on TV talking about these topics or heard me on your commute home on the radio or a podcast. Or maybe you’ve just seen my Bernie meme
I strive to explain topics that you might come across in the news but not fully understand, such as NFTs and meme stocks. I’ve had the pleasure of talking tech with Jeff Goldblum, Ang Lee, and other celebrities who have brought a different perspective to it. I put great care into writing gift guides and am always touched by the notes I get from people who’ve used them to choose presents that have been well-received. Though I love that I get to write about the tech industry every day, it’s touched by gender, racial, and socioeconomic inequality and I try to bring these topics to light. 
Outside of PCMag, I write fiction, poetry, humor, and essays on culture.
Read Chandra’s full bio
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