Reading is a relaxing hobby, so is reading ebooks. Even though libraries and bookstores are everywhere, many prefer to download audiobooks to their computers or mobile devices. This has caused the audiobook market to explode.
Audible.com, a subsidiary company of Amazon, offering Audible audiobooks, podcasts, and television programming magazines. They are cashing in on the audiobook trend with their different subscription plans offerings. By becoming an Audible premium member, you get a free book as a gift. New users can also get free Audible books (that are Amazon Originals) to listen to in their first 30 days of membership, through the app only.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could find an Audible alternative? One that offers unique benefits like a better free trial, no subscription fees, supports your local bookstore, and also gives you the ability to borrow or rent audiobooks for free? Your wish is granted. In this post, I’ll list my choices for the best audible alternatives for 2022. You can decide which one(s) work best for you.
How Do Audiobooks Work?
An audiobook is a video recording of books or ebooks, read out loud by someone. This allows you to listen to audiobooks instead of reading them. They can be downloaded to various platforms and can be used on different electronic devices such as computers, tablets, and mobile phones via audiobook apps. When you sign up for an audiobook service, the audiobook downloads can normally be stored on the device you are using.
The Importance of Audiobooks
Audiobook streaming is an increasingly popular entertainment option for many consumers. There are various online media services competing for your attention. Audiobooks are great for listening on the go, in the car, while exercising, or just to relax. Audiobook apps can also help people with vision loss or blindness.
Free Audible Alternatives
Loyal Books, formerly “Books Should Be Free,” offers a collection of completely free audiobooks and ebooks that are designated as public domain. Using this audible alternative means that no one holds a copyright to any of the unlimited Loyal books. You are able to: listen to audiobooks, download them, set a sleeptimer, skip forward and back, and even adjust the playback rate. Many of the Loyal books are classics and therefore you may not be able to find some of the more popular titles under the public domain.
Hoopla is like having the local library at your fingertips. Unlike other paid audible alternatives, this service is free. All you need is a local library card. You can listen to audio books online or download the audio files to the Android app or iOS app for online listening. You can save your audiobooks with a bookmark and add notes for later reading. You have control of the speed of the audiobook player, are able to set sleep timers, and even have customized functions to use while working out or driving.
Libby is another free audible alternative service where you can borrow audiobooks using your local library card. Libby provides a friendly, intuitive interface and allows you to set an alarm timer, turn off pauses, change the clock speed, save a bookmark, and read books offline. The app is free and available for Android, iOS, and Windows 10 for audiobook listeners.
LibriVox provides dozens of free public domain audiobooks that are produced by volunteers. LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain, and then release the audio files back onto the net for free in an audiobook format. You can search collections by keyword or author, so you can download audiobooks of your choice. They make new titles and audiobooks available daily, so their library is always expanding.
Lit2Go is a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 format. This is one of the audible alternatives that I’m sure parents and teachers are happy to use. I think that it’s the best audiobook site for students and educators alike.
An abstract, citation, playing time, and word count are given for each of the passages. Many of the passages also have a related reading strategy identified. Each reading passage can also be downloaded as a PDF and printed for use as a read-along or as supplemental reading material for your classroom.
Everything is broken down by author, books, genre, collections, and readability. You can find and use what you want and need for any age group, so you can take advantage of this free audiobook service.
Founded in 1968, “OverDrive now offers the largest digital content catalog in the world to more than 76,000 libraries and schools in 94 countries.” Students and library card holders can access libraries worldwide to get unlimited books for your listening and reading pleasure. Similar to Audible, Overdrive is available on Android devices, Windows, and iOS without a membership fee. The service is free, with a valid library card.
The Internet Archive is a nonprofit digital library that has curated and cataloged millions of books, music, software, websites, and other online media.
Fun fact: This site is actually the home of the Wayback Machine, where you can search and view various versions of different websites throughout time.
However, you can also browse more than 20,000 audiobooks. Any of the audiobooks are available for download or you may play them in the audiobook player on the website. No subscription or membership fee required.
YouTube is full of audiobooks. You wouldn’t think that YouTube is one of the audible alternatives, but it is. There are entire channels dedicated to providing free audiobooks for unlimited listening, including Priceless Audiobooks and Greatest AudioBooks. The playback speed is adjustable, so it doesn’t really differ much from listening to audiobooks via an app. There aren’t a lot of new audiobooks though.
Paid Alternatives to Audible
Scribd is a subscription service and one of the top audible competitors that offers a extensive library of reading material in both print and audio formats. Stephen King describes their audiobook service as “like Netflix for word wonks.”
Get started with a free account. If you decide to purchase a subscription, the monthly fee is $9.99/month. They have a 30-day free trial of their premium membership which gives you unlimited access to millions of audiobooks, ebooks, magazines, comics, and sheet music selections.
Apple has audiobooks! You are able to access them from their “Books” app across macOS, iOS and iPadOS. The lists include bestsellers along with new or trending books. The app will also recommend audiobooks based on your past reading habits. They do not offer a membership plan. The service is free. IOS users can choose from more than 30,000 free titles. PC users can access the service via the iTunes app. For the occasional listener, if you decide you do want to purchase, the books are individually priced.
Google Play Books offers audiobooks. Their categories include: self-help, business and investing, science and technology, science fiction, and comedy, to name a few. Their service is similar to Apple’s in that there isn’t a subscription or membership fee. All audiobooks are purchased separately and you own the book indefinitely.
eStories offers over 120 thousand audiobooks. The service is available via their app on both Apple and Android devices. They offer a monthly subscription or membership fee that you can cancel at any time. Subscription service’s monthly fee starts at $11.99/month for the Basic plan. They also offer a plus and premium plan that gives you unlimited access to their audiobooks.
Free Audioboook Codes, formerly Audiobook Boom, is unlike other audiobook services. It offers a unique way for authors to promote their books. And give you the opportunity to listen to audio books by different authors. The platform offers listeners the opportunity to purchase audio books at a discount or even get them free by reviewing and rating the books on various websites. The book author decides if that person is deserving of one of their digital audiobooks.
Chirp Audiobooks offers a wide range of limited-time deals for listening to audiobooks and get savings of up to 95%. This is one of the best alternatives to audible, since there isn’t a monthly subscription fee. Once a book is purchased on the Chirp website, it will automatically download into the audiobook player used for chirp audiobooks, with all the necessary features. To get started, create a free account, and then choose from their audiobook picks that will be sent to you in their daily email.
Get access to thousands of titles in their audiobook collection, presented at discounted prices. You can shop and pay per book or join their club for a monthly fee. Their Club-Pricing program, which is what they offer as a subscription fee gives you 50% off your first book each month and then 35%-40% off anything else you purchase that month.
Libro.fm not only sells audio books, they partner with local bookstores so each purchase you make, benefits a bookstore as well. When you sign up, you choose the independent bookstore you want to purchase audiobooks from for online and offline listening. Libro.fm splits the profits with this bookstore.
Use the code CHOOSEINDIE when you first sign up to get a bonus audiobook. Audiobook lovers will receive credits for two audiobooks to get you started.
Nook Audiobooks, another great audible competitor, is owned and operated by Barnes and Noble. You are able to purchase the latest bestselling books. The Nook app is available in both iOS and Android. Your purchased books are stored in a cloud account so they are always ready to stream or download when you’re ready to listen.
DownPour, another audible alternative, produces audiobooks and also publishes their own books. They offer a monthly membership for $12.99 that gives you discounts on the retail prices plus one download credit each month. They have a good selection, and offer some great audiobook deals, although the selections may not seem as big when compared to other platforms.
Realm FM, formerly known as Serial Box, is an audio entertainment company that creates original fiction podcasts, audiobook series, and short stories. Based in New York and LA, they collaborate with different writers, directors, artists, and actors to create diverse and immersive shows.
The audiobooks are available via iOS and Android apps, or their website. Start with a 3-day unlimited trial to explore and if you like what they offer, get an unlimited annual membership for $29.99 or choose a monthly membership for $3.99 a month.
If you’re a fan of eBooks, you probably recognize Kobo Audiobooks. They’ve now added audiobooks to their offerings. For a monthly fee of $9.99, you get access to millions of audiobooks. Plus you get to keep any audiobooks that you download within your subscription period. They are a great audible alternative.
Audiobooks gives you access to 300,000 best selling titles. You can purchase books one title at a time or become a VIP subscriber for $14.95 per month. As a VIP, you get 2 free audiobooks per month. Plus, as an added bonus, you can choose from their VIP curated books program.
Hachette Audio is a multiple Grammy Award winner for its spoken word productions. For those of you who prefer content without commitment, you can download audiobooks directly from their site without having to subscribe. They also provide some titles in an audiobook CD format.
In January of 2021, Spotify began releasing its own original audiobooks that are exclusive to the platform. All of these audiobooks are free for every Spotify member, no matter your plan. Finding audiobooks on Spotify might seem like an obstacle since there’s not a dedicated place like podcasts or music have. You can search using “audiobook” or you can also search for a specific title. There are also lots of audiobook playlists put together in user-made albums. A Spotify subscription starts at $9.99/month.
Old School Audible Alternatives
Don’t forget about your library as your source for popular audiobooks. Just as Loyal Books offers free audiobooks and Hoopla and Libby offer you the opportunity to borrow audiobooks from online libraries, you can physically go into the library to listen to audiobooks.
Don’t overlook a simple old fashioned CD. Many libraries provide extensive CD collections, which can be loaded into your car’s CD player (if you still have one) on your way to work or wherever you’re going.
Cracker Barrel offers weekly rentals of CDs so you can listen to audiobooks as well. You can also buy CD sets of audiobooks. That way you don’t have to worry about any type of subscription service charge.
Before I started researching audible alternatives, for this article, I had no idea of all the ways that were available to access one audiobook without being an audible member.
It’s truly fascinating to see all the platforms, apps, and services you can access to listen to your favorite audiobooks. Of course some of the services are better than others, but it’s always nice to have choices, wouldn’t you agree?
With the options I’ve listed above, you should be able to find audiobooks that you love to listen to whether they are free or paid. Which ones are you excited about exploring? Let me know in the comments below.
Carol J. Dunlop