Audiobooks have soared in popularity in the past few years, making it easier than ever to fit books into your day in new ways, whether you’re cooking or commuting. They make the perfect travel companion too, providing hours of hands-free entertainment and inspiration for long bus journeys, flights and lazy days by the pool.
Audiobook service providers have come a long way too in the past few years, with publishing houses ploughing huge investment and resources into building the best studios, teams and formats to push the boundaries of audio content. There are now dozens of reputable audiobook apps, offering expansive libraries ranging from the latest NYT bestsellers to travel memoirs. Most audiobook apps offer a subscription service, but some offer free content or library-style loans too. We’ve narrowed down a range of different audiobook apps and selected five of the best audiobook apps available.
Audible (by Amazon.com)
Audible is the best-known audiobook app in the business. It boasts an expansive library of over 200,000 book titles, including the latest blockbuster titles. The app is now owned by Amazon and offers a 30-day free trial. There are some helpful add-on services too. For instance, if you start an audiobook and decide it isn’t for you, you can return or exchange it. The most popular subscription plan offers one credit per month, which can be used to purchase one book. This credit also gives you access to a huge library of podcasts for no additional charge.
Learn more at Amazon.com
Founded in 2019, co-founders Mark and Kelli launched xigxag to revolutionise reading. Unlike Audible, where you pay a set fee every month for one credit, xigxag charges a flat fee for every book. The more titles you purchase per year, the cheaper the flat fee. Affordably priced and easy to use, it also offers the first-ever fully integrated listen-and-read experience. You can search, view illustrations, take notes, look up words and switch to reading at any point. This small, independent Cornwall-based business is a great alternative to big tech and offers thousands of titles encompassing a range of different genres.
Learn more at xigxag.com
Storynory Audio Stories
If it’s children’s storybooks you’re after, look no further than Storynory. For over 15 years the platform has been producing free fairy tales, legends, poems and original stories to spark the imagination of littluns’ every week. Most of the original stories are written in-house and read by professional actors. Stories are generally aimed at children aged between 7–11 years old, though there are nursery stories and rhymes suitable for preschoolers. The Herodotus histories are aimed at older children. Popular stories include the Katie series, about a girl with magical powers, and Astropup, about a space travelling dog and his megalomaniac parrot.
Learn more at Storynory.com
BookBeat is a digital subscription service that allows bookworms to stream audiobooks and read e-books on a mobile or tablet. Members pay a monthly fee to enjoy unlimited access to thousands of books, with no commitments and cancellation at any time. Plus, you can download the books on your device to listen to them offline when you don’t have access to mobile data or WiFi. Backed by Bonnier Books, the platform promises to “fill your life with stories for £12.99 per month”. With most of the latest superstar titles and every Harper Collins book on offer, it seems like a reasonable claim to make.
Learn more at BookBeat.co.uk
Libby took the United States by storm when it launched in 2017, but the rest of the world has had to wait for a while to get a slice of the pie. Thankfully, the library audiobook service is now available in 74 countries across the world, including the UK. Unlike most audiobook apps, Libby is completely free, with no in-app purchases, subscription costs or late fees. All you need is a valid library card from your local library. Like your local library, you’ll have a limited amount of time to listen to your book before you need to return it. There’s always an option to renew the title unless someone else has reserved it too.
Find out more at Libby.com