Audiobooks have become an extremely popular way to “read” books. You have a handful of solid choices if you’re looking to get started. However, unlike music streaming, the pricing of these services is all over the board. What’s the cheapest?
Let’s start with the free options for audiobooks. First, you should know that your local library doesn’t just have physical books. Most libraries these days are connected to OverDrive, which is a service for eBooks and audiobooks.
The Libby app from OverDrive gives you access to audiobooks from libraries in your area. All you need is a free library card. One thing to keep in mind is the typical library rules also apply to Libby. You’re only “borrowing” the audiobooks and you may have to wait in line for them to become available.
LibriVox is a free audiobook service specifically for books that are in the public domain. We’re talking about titles such as Moby Dick, The Time Machine, Frankenstein, Treasure Island, and more. The library is around 50,000 audiobooks, and they’re all old enough to be in the public domain. If you love classics, this is a nice option.
The last free method requires a little more work on your part. If you already have an eBook in EPUB, MOBI, or PDF, you can use an app called NaturalReader to convert it to an audiobook.
The one big catch to this method is its essentially just text-to-speech. Despite the name of the app, it won’t sound as good as an audiobook read by an actual human. You’re also limited to which eBooks you can download without DRM.
The biggest name in audiobooks, Audible, actually has the cheapest monthly subscription. The “Audible Plus” plan is only $7.95 per month, but the catalog is limited to around 11,000 audiobooks (as of 2020). You’ll need to purchase additional credits for audiobooks not included in the Plus catalog.
Kobo’s monthly subscription is $9.99, but it’s different than Audible. You don’t get access to a catalog of books; it’s more like a discount plan. The subscription includes one free book each month and the option to buy credits for more books at a discounted price. Kobo doesn’t share numbers on how many audiobooks are in its catalog.
Scribd offers just one subscription for $11.99 per month, and it includes audiobooks, eBooks, and magazines. Unlike the other services on this list, Scribd doesn’t have limits on what you can listen to. It claims to have a catalog of “millions” of titles, but around 200,000 are audiobooks. You don’t get to keep audiobooks in your library forever, they’re rented.
Subscription plans are your best option if you want cheap audiobooks. Without a subscription, a single audiobook title can cost anywhere from around $10 to $25. As you can see from our comparison between Spotify and Audible, even if you only listen to just one book per month, it’s probably worth the subscription.