Anyone else the escape of audiobooks while we find moments to ourselves? These audiobook apps proved to be the perfect literary lifeline for me while I was stuck at home with my young children during the quarantine, and are keeping me going even now.
Because no offense to my kids, but, I don’t find Superwings quite as intellectually stimulating as my 3-year-old does.
And hey, sometimes it’s hard to settle down with a book; audiobooks let you listen while working out, showering (remember showering?), cleaning up, or just taking a head-clearing walk outside — you’ll be amazed how much more reading you get done when you discover the joy of audiobook apps.
Bonus: these audiobook apps are a great alternative to constantly refreshing your news app. Not that I know anything about that.
This post has been updated for 2022
5 best audiobook apps: Which is right for you?
You’re probably already familiar with Audible, but if you’re not, it’s Amazon’s subscription audiobook app. You can try it free for 30 days and after that, plans start at just $7.95 a month for Audible Plus. (Update: that’s a big reduction from the original plan that’s now called Audible Premium Plus — that remains $14.95 a month.)
Yes, it’s a little confusing! So be sure you select the right plan. The $7.95 subscription includes unlimited audiobooks from the Plus collection, including free audiobooks for kids, Audible originals, and access to podcasts. The Premium plan works in credit form — you get one monthly credit to redeem for a single book each month, plus the free access to unlimited Plus library books. And the free trial gets you one premium book free to start, or two if you’re already a Amazon Prime member.
(See? Confusing. Browse through the Plus catalog and be sure that will have what you want.)
I really like the kid selection — you can filter by age, and they offer everything from baby books to YA. I think it’s a great screen-free alternative for kids who need an entertainment fix. Or parents who need a break from hands-on homeschooling.
I was so excited to discover Libro.fm as an alternative to Audible, since it lets you choose an independent bookstore to support with your purchases. It’s a great option if you’d just rather give your money to a small business than Amazon. A membership is slightly more expensive than an Audible subscription at $14.99 a month and works the way Audible’s monthly credit subscription does — plus you get a 30% discount if you’re buying additional books a la carte.
I also love that this audiobook app comes with recommendations from indie booksellers around the country — almost as good as browsing the shelves in person!
The Hoopla App lets you check out books from your local library including audiobooks, with the obvious benefit being that it’s completely free. You just need your library card number and pin to set up an account, and unlike with hard copies, you don’t have to get on a waitlist to check out hot new titles. You can even join another library should your own local library not be participating, which we describe here.
The one downside of this app is that you’re limited to 20 titles a month and loans last three weeks for each audiobook, although you can renew a title; it just counts against your monthly limit.
If you want your audiobooks commitment-free, check out Chirp. It lets you buy books without the monthly subscription model. Plus you can save money if you follow their daily deals and seek out lesser known books instead of bestsellers. I’ve also been using audiobooks to help me fall back asleep after breastfeeding in the night, so I love that this app comes with a sleep timer. So handy!
If you’re looking to save money, the LibriVox app is your best bet. It offers a selection of public domain titles that you can listen at no cost, and while their catalogue is limited, you can find loads of older books and classics. It’s a great resource for homeschooling parents too, especially if you’re looking for reading assignments.
Top image: Elice Moore via Unsplash