You love to read books. You want to read more of them. But you never seem to have any time to crack one open.
Your whole day is spent going from one responsibility to the next. Going to work, picking up the kids, getting groceries, cleaning your home, going to the gym, etc. The list goes on!
So now you're considering audiobooks, because hey, you can listen to them at the same time as doing most of those things.
But you don’t want to add another bill to your expenses.
Why Are Audiobooks so Expensive?
Audiobooks cost significantly more to produce than hardcover or ebook versions of the same book.
The main reason is that it requires a lot of upfront investment, including casting voice artists, renting the recording studio, narrating the book, working with audio engineers, and post-production.
Publishers have to charge more to make a profit from audiobooks since the target audience is usually relatively small compared to the audience for movies or music.
For these reasons, buying audiobooks can quickly add up to a large sum, and not everyone can afford to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on audiobooks during a lifetime.
Audiobook Subscriptions: The Cheapest Way to Listen to Audiobooks
Luckily, multiple audiobook subscription services offer affordable ways to consume books and feed your curiosity.
The cheapest way to listen to audiobooks is to find an audiobook subscription that fits your needs (has books you like to read and is affordable).
An audiobook subscription works like any other digital subscription. You pay a monthly or annual subscription fee and can then access a limited or unlimited number of audiobooks, depending on the platform and the plan you choose.
While prices for a single audiobook range widely, from $25 to $50, you can get a monthly subscription for half that and listen to one or sometimes unlimited audiobooks.
Imagine How Much You Could Learn with Unlimited Audiobooks per Month
Reading is underrated.
I believe it’s one of the most rewarding activities you can do to learn new things, expand your worldview, and level up in your career.
However, reading can be extremely time-consuming. In contrast, audiobooks don’t require your full engagement and you can listen to new stories while commuting, exercising, or cooking dinner.
Knowledge is power.
If you feed your brain new information, it starts making unexpected connections. You become more knowledgeable and get a better understanding of the world, making your life easier.
Do Audiobooks Make You Smarter?
There’s no clear evidence, but ultra-successful and smart people read a lot.
Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett are known for their curiosity and extreme reading habits, and I’ll bet it’s highly correlated with their success.
The 11 Best Audiobook Subscription Services in 2021
If you’re looking for the best audiobook subscription service, here’s a list of 11 best platforms you can choose from.
Some offer large libraries and the latest bestselling books, some have unlimited access, some are even free.
🌟 My Top Pick: Audible
Best for people looking for the newest titles and the largest audiobook library in the world.
Audible is one of the most popular audio platforms – and for a good reason. With over 180,000 titles available and an amazing app, it offers an exquisite reading experience for audiobook lovers.
Plus, it has a diverse library, and you can find audiobooks in a variety of genres, from classics, children’s books, and business and history books, to biographies and poetry books.
Audible is considered the category leader because it devotes attention to quality audio production and distributing quality content.
According to various sources, it’s between 180,000 and 400,000.
You can customize listening speed, set bookmarks, and set a sleep timer. The app also features car mode and allows ad-free offline listening.
Audible lets you keep the books, even if you cancel your membership. The subscription service offers 24/7 customer support, which is not the case with other audiobook platforms.
The Audible app is free and available on iOS, Android, and Fire Tablets. The app is minimalist and user-friendly, and syncs your content on all devices.
- Great selection of audiobooks.
- Professional-quality audio production.
- User-friendly app with many features.
- Amazing 24/7 customer support service.
- 30-day free trial period.
- Audible’s credit-based system is on the pricier side compared to other subscription services.
- You can’t buy books through the app.
- Unused credits will be lost if you cancel your membership.
Audible Trial allows you to try the service for 30 days.
Audible Gold monthly plan costs $14.95/month or $149.50/year. You get 1 credit and 30% off all additional audiobooks.
Audible Platinum monthly plan costs $22.95/month or $229.50/year. You get 2 credits and can purchase additional credits for $11.48 per credit.
Best for people looking for an affordable unlimited audiobook service.
Scribd started as a document-sharing service and over the years has grown into one of the largest platforms for reading ebooks and audiobooks. It’s also often referred to as the Netflix for audiobooks.
You also gain access to sheet music, magazines, and documents. One downside to Scribd’s large library is that its selection is missing most contemporary bestsellers.
Subscribing to Scribd is a great deal if you’re particularly interested in arts and culture, as you’ll have access not only to a large book library but to major platforms for journalism and movies as well.
For example, MUBI is a great streaming platform that gives you access to hand-curated indie and arthouse movies.
Over 45,000 audiobooks.
One thing that particularly distinguishes Scribd Audiobooks from its competitors is that you can upload your documents and books to the platform.
Scribd members also get access to other popular platforms, including, MUBI, Pocket, and FarFaria.
The app is user-friendly with a clean design and it gives you recommendations based on your reading and listening history.
Scribd is available worldwide. The Scribd app is available on the web, iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire.
- Unlimited access to a large library of audiobooks, ebooks, magazines, comics, documents, and sheet music.
- Monthly membership is cheaper than its competitors’.
- Members get access to other platforms including, MUBI, Pocket, and FarFaria.
- The Scribd audiobook library is not updated regularly with top-selling bestsellers from the last decade.
- Doesn’t support Kindle Paperwhite.
Scribd Trial offers a generous 2 months of free access.
Scribd Membership costs $8.99/month or $84.99/year for unlimited access to ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines.
Best audiobook service for people looking for a cheaper Audible alternative with a huge audiobook library.
Audiobooks.com is one of the best audiobook apps with a huge collection of books in every genre featuring classics and the latest bestsellers.
Audiobooks.com claims to have 150,000+ premium titles.
Clean app with useful features, taking your listening experience to the next level with variable playback speed, auto-bookmarking, sleep timer, and cross-device syncing.
You can easily transition from one device to another and keep listening from where you left off.
Audiobooks.com app is available on iOS and Android devices.
- Second biggest audiobook library in the world.
- Offline listening.
- A 30-day free trial with 3 free books.
- Keep your books even if you cancel your subscription.
- Pricing per book is lower than other similar services but expensive compared to unlimited streaming services.
Audiobooks.com Trial gives you free access for 30 days with 1 free audiobook plus 2 bonus books from their VIP selection.
Audiobooks.com Monthly subscription costs $14.95 and includes 2 audiobooks per month ($7.48/book). You can cancel anytime.
Best for people looking for a large library who want to support independent bookstores.
Libro.fm may seem like another audiobook subscription service, but there’s a huge difference. By using it, you’re getting audiobooks directly from struggling bookstores.
Select from 150,000+ audiobooks, including New York Times bestsellers.
With a monthly subscription you get 1 credit to spend every month, plus 30% off list price.
You’ll discover hidden gems hand-curated by expert booksellers. Best of all, you’ll be supporting local bookstores.
Libro.fm app has a sleep timer, different reading speeds, bookmarks, and library organization features.
Libro.fm app is available on iOS and Android devices. You’ll need a US/Canada credit card to purchase a membership.
- Audiobooks are DRM-free.
- Credits never expire.
- Support independent bookstores.
- Share credits as audiobook subscription gifts.
- Hassle-free returns.
- US/Canada credit card is required to purchase a membership.
- You can’t buy credits.
- It’s pricey.
Libro.fm Trial gives you free access for 30 days. Your card is not charged if you accidentally ignore the warnings and pass the 30-day mark.
Libro.fm Membership costs $14.99/month and includes 1 credit.
Best for people looking for an all-you-can-listen audiobook streaming service.
BookBeat is a bit like Netflix for audiobooks. It’s an audiobook streaming service where you pay a fixed fee and get unlimited audiobooks per month.
You can listen to as many audiobooks as you like and download books, which means that offline listening is also an option.
According to BookBeat, it’s thousands of audiobooks. No specific number available.
BookBeat gives you access to both audiobooks and ebooks. The best thing about BookBeat is that, unlike many subscription services, it doesn’t have a credit system, but offers truly unlimited access to audiobooks.
BookBeat offers content from all major publishers and regularly updates its lists with modern bestsellers. The platform is a division of the major publishing company Bonnier Books, so you can even get your hands on the New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers.
BookBeat’s app can be accessed through your mobile phone or tablet and is available for download on iOS and Android. The app is free and user-friendly, and has a chic design.
- Offers unlimited listening for nearly the same price that other subscription services charge for a single monthly credit.
- Regularly updates its library with new releases, including contemporary bestsellers.
- BookBeat app has a great design and simplifies the user experience.
- Other subscription services have a larger number of audiobooks available.
BookBeat Trial gives you 2 weeks’ free access.
BookBeat Monthly cost depends on which country you live in. On average, pricing starts from $12.90/month.
Best for people looking for a cheaper alternative to Audible.
Already popular for its ebooks, e-readers, and tablet devices, Kobo decided to delve into the audiobook subscription industry in 2017.
The platform now offers over 100,000 titles, which is quite impressive for a subscription service that hasn’t been around for long.
Kobo audiobook store can be confusing for users because its search bar gives results for both ebooks and audiobooks.
Kobo lets you keep all your books if you decide to cancel your subscription.
The Kobo app is easy to use and is available on all iOS and Android devices. It allows users to put on a sleep timer, use bookmarks, and change the playback speed. The only downside to using Kobo is that you can’t purchase audiobooks through the Kobo app or pre-order an audiobook with a credit.
- Cheaper than other similar subscription services.
- You can keep books upon cancellation.
- You’ll need to pay extra if you want to purchase additional credits.
- You can’t purchase audiobooks through the app.
- Kobo’s browsing options are confusing.
Kobo Trial gives access to 1 free audiobook for 30 days.
Kobo Membership costs $9.99/month. You get 1 credit every month, which is enough to purchase any audiobook, regardless of price.
Best for people looking for summaries and efficiency over full experience.
What makes Blinkist different from the other audiobook services reviewed in this article is that it is a book summary service.
Blinkist is designed for busy individuals who don’t have time to read as much as they wish to. So, subscribers have access to book summaries created by a team of experts who squeeze the crucial ideas of non-fiction books into bitesize text and audio.
The platform features 3,000 titles and the team adds 40 titles each month.
Each Blinkist book summary can be read in 15 minutes and it comes in audio and text versions. Readers get 8–12 crucial insights from every book.
The platform features bestselling non-fiction books focused mostly on mindfulness, motivation, psychology, and leadership.
Blinkist has a user-friendly interface and is available on iOS, Android, and Fire devices.
- Unlimited access to every title.
- Offline listening is available as you can download book summaries and listen to them at any time.
- 7-day free trial.
- Blinkist provides you with only a brief overview. Not a good solution if you want to delve deeper into a topic.
- The monthly plan is pricey for a book summary service, considering that other audiobook services that stream entire books come at the same price or cheaper.
Blinkist Premium plan costs $14.99/month or $89.99/year. You can cancel at any time.
OverDrive & Libby
Best for people looking for popular audiobooks who are willing to wait to listen for free.
No clear number is available but they claim to have the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital media in a growing network of 45,000 libraries and schools in 78 countries.
Clean and modern design makes for an enjoyable reading experience.
You can explore and discover new books through hand-selected catalog guides, subjects, featured titles, and curated lists.
Probably the best free audiobook app available in selected areas.
Available in selected countries. You use it in your web browser, and on iOS and Android devices.
- Free access to a huge audiobook library.
- Award-winning app design.
- Offline listening.
- Both Libby and OverDrive have OpenDyslexic font as an option for use.
- Not available in all countries.
- You don’t get to keep the books.
- Long waiting time on the best audiobooks.
OverDrive and Libby are free to use with your library card.
Best for people looking for quality DRM-free audiobooks.
Downpour is an audiobook subscription service offered by Blackstone Audio, a major player in the audiobook industry.
Blackstone was founded in 1987 and functioned as an audio service which allowed users to listen to their favorite books through CDs and MP3s.
Browse through 100 genres and download the books directly from the library.
You can listen to the downloaded files at any time, even if you cancel your subscription, as they will be saved to your device.
Downpour audiobooks are DRM-free, which means that if you’re a member, you can download and transfer audiobooks to any device anywhere without them being copyrighted.
You can download the Downpour app on iOS and Android devices. The mobile app is easy to use and features a summary, editorial review, and customer reviews of the audiobooks, as well as info about their authors and publishers.
- You can keep your books if you cancel the membership.
- Downpour books are DRM-free.
- You can cancel your membership at any time without paying a penalty fee.
- No free trial available.
- Customer support isn’t available 24/7.
- Some of their titles cost 2 credits and monthly members only get 1 free credit.
Downpour Membership costs $12.99/month. Members get 1 free credit a month and can purchase additional credits for $12.99.
Best for people looking for a completely free unlimited audiobook streaming service.
Founded in 2005, LibriVox is a database of free audiobooks that partners with Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive for hosting audio files.
Under the motto “to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet,” the organization has managed to create over 13,000 audiobooks that are available for online streaming and download.
The LibriVox website claims to have over 13,830 cataloged works in 40 languages, while on the App Store they claim to have 50,000 titles.
LibriVox relies on a devoted team of volunteers who read and record public domain texts. The platform is open to new enthusiasts who would like to record books in their language.
New releases are prepared daily by volunteers and the catalog features classic bestsellers, history books, biographies, short stories, and poetry in more than 40 languages.
The app remembers where you stopped reading, so you can return to the place in your book at any time in a matter of seconds. It also includes bookmarks and a sleep timer.
- Unlimited access to public domain books.
- The app doesn’t limit your access, so you can read as many books as you like at no cost.
- Decent mobile app with great browsing features.
- The platform uses only public domain books so the selection is limited.
- Some recordings are of low quality.
- Users may be overwhelmed by ads.
LibriVox is completely free.
Best Audiobook Subscription Services Comparison
Below is a comparison table giving you a quick overview of all the best audiobook sites.
Are Audiobooks Worth It?
Even if you get one idea that makes your life better, it’s worth it.
With flexible audiobook subscription services, you can access hundreds of thousands of quality audiobooks right from your smartphone, anytime, anywhere.
Some of them offer generous free trials and some are completely free, so there’s no risk to give it a try.
Don’t hesitate – sign up for a free trial of one of the top-rated audiobook subscriptions to start improving yourself today.