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So you have a library of audiobooks built up, whether from buying them online or ripping them off disks, and now you’re looking for a way to listen to them on your Android device

Audible is the first app most people will point you towards, but it’s of no use here, as it doesn’t let you import or export books. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to listen to DRM-free audiobooks (what is DRM? What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] Digital Rights Management is the latest evolution of copy protection. It’s the biggest cause of user frustration today, but is it justified? Is DRM a necessary evil in this digital age, or is the model... Read More ), even if some of them aren’t immediately obvious.

Dedicated Apps

Let’s tackle this option first, as it’s probably what you’re here looking for.

Unfortunately, most of the standalone apps capable of reading DRM-free audiobooks for Android aren’t as visually pleasing or modern as those offered directly from audiobook sellers, as they all lock you into only consuming their own works. This includes sites that sell audiobooks restricted by DRM (Audible, Audiobooks.com, Barnes & Noble) and those that don’t (Downpour, LibriVox).

Material Audiobook Player

Material Audiobook Player is one major exception. As its name so obviously suggests, the interface is Material Design-inspired Exploring Android L: What Exactly Is Material Design? Exploring Android L: What Exactly Is Material Design? You may have heard about Android L and Material Design, but what exactly is this new design philosophy and how will it affect Android and other Google products? Read More , so it looks great on any device.

DRMFreeAudiobooks-Material-Audiobook

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This app is as simple to use as it is easy on the eyes. To add a book, just hit the floating action button in the bottom right hand corner. You can download covers, adjust playback speed, and set a sleep timer. There isn’t much else in the way of features, but if you just want to listen to your books, this free app should get the job done.

Akimbo Player

If you aren’t particularly hung up on looks and want something feature-rich, consider the Akimbo Player. We’ve given this app a shoutout 4 Fun, Simple Ways to Enjoy Audiobooks on Android 4 Fun, Simple Ways to Enjoy Audiobooks on Android Audiobooks offer a fantastic alternative to reading! Here are the best ways to listen to audiobooks on Android. Read More not too long ago due to its support for various file sizes, customization options, and focus on simply providing a good local audio experience. It looks dated these days, but it’s also free.

Others

For those of you who don’t mind spending some money, there are a few other apps worth checking out. The SpokenWord Audiobook Player goes for $5.99, and there’s a free trial you can try out to get a feel for things. If you don’t want to hand over quite that much, the Listen Audiobook Player goes for just $1.50.

Podcast Clients

BeyondPod

BeyondPod is my podcast client of choice. When I started listening to audiobooks on my Android phone, I was surprised to discover that I could import them into the app as “Virtual Feeds.” Simply go to add a feed as you normally would and select Import Folder as Virtual Feed.

DRMFreeAudiobooks-Virtual-Feed

You can then browse through each part of the audiobook as you would individual episodes of a podcast. Since the app remembers where you left off and comes with options to tweak your listening experience (such as speeding up or slowing down audio), it’s nearly as good for books as it is for podcasts.

DRMFreeAudiobooks-BeyondPod

Pocket Casts

BeyondPod isn’t alone here. Pocket Casts supplies a “custom episodes” folder where you can store audio files that you wish to import into the app. They will appear in your list alongside your other feeds.

The feature may not be supported in all podcast clients, so search the FAQ section that accompanies whichever podcast app you like most 4 App Showdown: Which Is the Best Android Podcast App? 4 App Showdown: Which Is the Best Android Podcast App? There are great podcast apps available for Android, whether you're willing to pay for an app as good as anything you'd find on an iPhone or want a polished, free app. Read More to find out.

Music Players

This is the least appealing of the options, but it’s worth including out of sheer convenience. If your files are saved as MP3s or some other unencumbered audio file, then yes, a music player that plays local files will also be able to play your audiobooks. This may seem obvious, but it’s an easy thing to overlook.

DRMFreeAudiobooks-HTC-Music

This approach comes with the easiest learning curve, since anyone reading this has likely used a music player for years (here’s my current favorite: Shuttle Player Shuttle Player: The Robust and Feature-Complete Music Experience [Android] Shuttle Player: The Robust and Feature-Complete Music Experience [Android] Finding that one perfect music player can be tough. Finding one that's free? Nearly impossible. Rocket Player has been my near-perfect choice for the past few months, but I recently found a successor: Shuttle Player.... Read More ). But filling your music library with books also comes with numerous downsides.

For starters, you will have authors popping up alongside your musicians and audiobooks mixing in with albums on shuffle. Even if you don’t find either of these particularly bothersome, there will come a time when you forget your place in a chapter, because music players only memorize your position up until the point when you switch to another track. This will leave you re-listening to parts again and again in order to find out where you left off.

But no matter how frustrating turning to a music player as a primary means of consuming audiobooks may be, it can get the job done in a pinch.

Where Can You Find DRM-Free Audiobooks?

Audible may be the biggest name in audiobooks, but the site doesn’t actually give you full ownership over the titles that you buy. Instead of selling you books, it grants you a license to listen to them and supplies you with an app for doing so (a situation that doesn’t change even if you sign up for a subscription Kindle Unlimited -- Is It Really Worth It? Kindle Unlimited -- Is It Really Worth It? Amazon's rumored "Netflix for books" service is finally here: Kindle Unlimited. In theory, it sounds fantastic. But is it all that it is hyped up to be? Read More ). This works for many people, but it’s still pretty restrictive.

Even if it means going without a particular title, I recommend buying books from sources that give you complete access to files so that you can listen to them however and wherever you like, long after a site’s servers have shut down. Such options include Downpour, LibriVox, Telltale Weekly, and others. You can find a longer list over at defectivebydesign.org.

For those books that you can’t find in an unrestricted format, you can always buy them on disks and rip them the old-fashioned way, and if you just want stuff to listen to for free, there are plenty of places where you could look The Top 7 Websites To Find Unique Or Unknown Free Audiobooks The Top 7 Websites To Find Unique Or Unknown Free Audiobooks A while ago we published a comprehensive list of the 10 best websites for free audiobooks. The world hasn’t changed, and many of us are still way too busy to sit down and read. We... Read More .

Where do you get your audiobooks, and what’s your favorite way for listening to them? Chime in below!

Image Credits: Listening to music Via Shutterstock

  1. ?????
    November 25, 2015 at 7:30 am

    But most of our purchased audio books are with DRM, so how to do?

    Remove DRM!

  2. DonGateley
    February 10, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    "the interface is Material Design-inspired, so it looks great on any device"

    Someone drank the kool-aid (in the acid test sense.) To those of us who still value design it is empty, boring, featureless and simplistic. It just eliminates design from the app development equation, thus lowering the developer common denominator.

    What it does do, though, is increase the splash that design will make when it is inevitably re-introduced to relieve the boredom. Jony Ive's contribution to the field of design will eventually be understood as having eliminated it.

    • Kris
      February 13, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      This is an interesting comment, DonGateley.

      I look forward to seeing if the future unfolds as you predict.

      Thanks for taking a stance! (I'm not certain I agree with you, but I love someone that has an actual opinion!)

    • Bertel
      May 3, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      I was not referring to whether material design itself is or is not attractive. What I meant with that line is that material apps will integrate well with any modern Android device, especially those that are running stock. There's something to be said for consistency as you swap between the phone's UI and app's.

      Some apps manage to have their own sense of style while still respecting Android's current guidelines (FolderSync, Pocket, etc.), but for those that don't, it's nice to have something that integrates well (and perhaps looks dull) than a piece of software that looks and functions differently from everything else on the device.

  3. Carol Van Egmond
    February 10, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    I have a local library membership and get both audio and regular books to read for free. I had to download free Adobe Reader and free Overdrive. I download the books to OverDrive and can borrow them for 21 days, at the end of which you can renew if you haven't finnished. There is a large selection of books and you are not filling your hard drive with a lot of files.

  4. Learjet
    February 10, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    I shouldn't say this, but I will. I get most of mine via torrent. You can find just about everything newer there, then I upload them to Google Music Play and listen to them on my phone or tablet.

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