Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

Updated by Christian Cawley on November 3rd, 2016.

Audiobooks have never been more popular, and this can be seen in the number of player apps currently available on Google Play. In fact, the choice is so great that you would be forgiven for installing a substandard app.

So we’ve come to your rescue. It’s time to make sure you’re using one of the best audiobook players on your phone or tablet. We’ve whittled it down to a choice of three: Audible, Librivox, and Akimbo Player. Read on to find out which one we think is best.

Audiobooks: Take Them Anywhere!

For the uninitiated, audiobooks are recordings of a (usually) well-known actor reading a popular book. An example might be Nigel Planer reading The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. Rather than pick up a book and do the reading yourself, the audiobook reads the story to you (although sometimes it might be a non-fiction title, perhaps an autobiography or instructional book).

In those times when you cannot easily read, an audiobook is ideal. You might want to enjoy a story while on a long drive, or to help you to sleep at night. Your job may be such that listening to an audiobook can bring some much-needed entertainment to an otherwise dull shift, or you might have a disability that makes audiobooks a far better option than printed copies.

For all of these situations, a smartphone app can help.

Ads by Google

Audible

The industry leader is Audible. While not completely perfect, the now Amazon-owned service offers the most popular audiobook app (also available on Windows Phone Enjoy Audiobooks On Your Windows Phone With Audible Enjoy Audiobooks On Your Windows Phone With Audible No time to read? Audiobooks are the perfect solution, and with Audible's free app on your Windows Phone you have access to a library of over 60,000 titles that you can take anywhere! Read More Windows 8 Listen To Audiobooks On Your Windows 8 Device With Audible Listen To Audiobooks On Your Windows 8 Device With Audible Audiobooks are the most underrated form of literature out there! Audible's Windows 8 app and the Audible Cloud Player make them more accessible and fun to listen to than ever before. You'll love it. Read More , and iOS). As such, we can use it as a baseline for the other two apps in this comparison to be measured against.

muo-android-audiobookplayer-audible

Available free and integrated with your Amazon account, Audible features a nice selection of control options, such as variable speed, a process meter to reveal how far through the current chapter you are, and the ability to easily skip back 30 seconds and set bookmarks. Sharing options are also present, as well as a button free playback mode and a sleep mode.

The polish of the player component of Audible is matched by the style of the rest of the app where you can purchase and download audiobooks from Audible’s library. Credits are required to buy audiobooks, and unlike the rest of Amazon’s ecosystem, these are not cheap. You buy various subscriptions, starting from one credit (which equals one book) per month. The vast majority of titles are of a very good quality, however, read or performed by names as famous as Brian Cox, Stephen Fry, Alan Cumming, Jim Dale, Jeremy Irons, David Suchet, and so forth — and the purchase is secure and efficient.

So, with the baseline established, how do Librivox and Akimbo Player measure up?

Librivox

Although the main user interface is a little busy, offering multiple sections to display the latest books, recent items in your library, genres, recommendations, etc., this portion of the app is configurable, so these can be added, removed and changed as needed.

muo-android-audiobookplayer-librivox

Using the search tool to find material to listen to is simple, and once an audiobook is settled upon, you can listen to it chapter-by-chapter, with rewind and skip buttons and a progress bar accompanying the obligatory bookmark button and favourite and sharing options. The Description screen gives you the opportunity to rate and review the book in question, and the overall presentation of the app is of a good quality.

Adverts can be a distraction, but these can be removed with a premium upgrade for $1.99 (£0.99 in the UK).

The problem is with the content. Librivox’s unique selling point is its content, largely audiobooks. While premium books can be purchased, they’re tricky to find unless you know what you’re looking for.

“Free” Shouldn’t Mean “Problem”

Now, you may be thinking, “Yay! Free audiobooks!” But as great as free is, it comes with some problems.

Firstly, the quality of content may not be up to the standard you expect in terms of subject matter, research, and prose. Second, the audiobook is going to be something that is out of copyright or written especially for giving away. Third, and perhaps most important, is the production. Audiobooks work best when read or narrated by a good voice artist experienced with this sort of project. Sadly there are no Jeremy Irons or Brian Coxes in the Librivox library. Here, many of the voice artists are sadly substandard (although it would seem anyone can volunteer), and the production value is equally poor.

Another option for free audiobooks is a service called BookShouldbeFree, which we looked at previously 10 Of The Best Free Audiobooks From BooksShouldBeFree That You Should Listen To 10 Of The Best Free Audiobooks From BooksShouldBeFree That You Should Listen To Read More . It suffers from many of the same quality issues as Librivox’s library, but some options stand out.

Many aspects of Librivox’s app and service are comparable to Audible and the free library is good. However, the poor quality of the audiobooks lets it down.

SpokenWord Audiobook Player

Purely a player, this app has some rather useful features built in. It can automatically import audiobooks, either by scanning your device, or by you manually searching. For the best results, books should be in their own folders. There’s also the option to import your audiobooks from a Dropbox folder.

muo-android-audiobookreaders-spokenword

To scan for a book, there’s a useful option that excludes titles with less than 80 minutes of audio. Concerned that other audiobook players pick up your MP3 collection? Now there’s no need to worry. Most MP3 music files are 3-10 minutes long, so this can save a lot of time when scanning. It should also make it easier to browse through your audiobooks without being distracted by music.

Reviews are mixed for SpokenWord Audiobook Player. For instance, the Dropbox option seems unstable. Comments in the app’s feedback suggest it doesn’t work as intended. My own experience was problematic, with the chosen audiobook apparently imported into the app, but unable to play. Sadly, the same happened when attempting to play the same audiobook — a Doctor Who adventure from Big Finish — after downloading it manually from Dropbox and copying it to the device SD card. This was tested on a Sony Xperia Z5 running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but your mileage may vary.

Overdrive

Offering a slightly different set of features is Overdrive. Rather than being a standard audiobook player, Overdrive is essentially a public library browser. This means that eBooks and audiobooks made available by any local lending library can be browsed, downloaded, and enjoyed.

muo-android-audiobookreaders-overdrive

Now, there is a downside. As you probably know, you need a membership at your local library, so you’re limited to libraries that you have a card for. This might be a town library or the library at your university. Once you’re browsing the website for the library of your choice and have selected the book you wish to hear, you’ll need to sign in with your library credentials, so make sure you have these on hand.

A few moments later, the media should be synced and you’ll be enjoying a new story!

The depth of selection you get with this app is considerable. All electronic media available for lending at libraries around the world can be accessed with OverDrive. We’re not just talking audiobooks and eBooks either — many libraries lend video media too, which can also be viewed with this app.

Which Is Your Favourite?

Even if I wasn’t already using Audible, I feel that it would be my number one audiobook choice simply because of the quality of the titles available. However, there are some that are not available through Amazon’s service, so Librivox should be your next option before falling back on the others.

Which would you choose? Are you a fully paid-up member of the Audible fan club, or is there an audiobook player we have somehow overlooked? Use the comments box below to set us straight.

Featured Image Credit: Young man using a smart phone outdoors via Shutterstock

  1. nobled
    January 12, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    I primarily use Audible because they have a large selection at reasonable prices. I've tried Overdrive by the selection is horrible so I'm not able to use it often. My favorite player by far is Smart AudioBook Player. I just wish I could listen to my Audible books with Smart easily.

  2. Tim
    November 18, 2015 at 8:39 am

    And "SpokenWord" is working very well, too - comparable in scope to Akimbo

  3. Martha Williams
    October 26, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Free from the Library using Overdrive. Remember when you download something from Audible, you don't really own it because you cannot give it away.

  4. Ryan
    March 7, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I am surprised that the writer didn't do the proper research. For models such as Samsung that has no menu button, you need to hold the app button down for a couple of seconds and the library menu pops up. Very simple and easy to use!

  5. Michael
    November 24, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    I am surprised to see the number sites claiming "best" or "recommended" android audiobook reader apps that do not mention SmartAudiobook Player.

    Anyone who listens to audiobooks ( I've listen to lots for years) does themselves a disservice by not trying this app. Go ahead; try the others you see listed, then try Smart Audiobook. Your search will end ... Happily!

  6. Christian C
    October 2, 2014 at 6:33 am

    There are some great alternatives in these comments, thanks everyone for your suggestions!

  7. Alfredo
    September 29, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    I use "Listen Audiobook Player" and I'm very happy with it (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.acmeandroid.listen)

  8. Mark
    September 24, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I use overdrive media console... Free audiobooks from your local library....fantastic free app, thousands of free books....

  9. Mike B
    September 23, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Ditto Chuck Coffman’s and Carol Elkin's comments. I listen to books on Overdrive almost daily. You can try a sample before downloading. It's just like using the library without the fuss. Audio books are checked out for up to two weeks, and then they will 'return' to the library. You can filter to search only for books that are 'in' or place a hold on ones that are currently checked out. Overdrive works across all popular platforms, desktop and mobile.

  10. Heather Hart
    September 21, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Audible, Overdrive, MortPlayer for audio. Purchased, library, personal.

  11. Carol Elkins
    September 21, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Ditto Chuck Coffman's comments. I check out audiobooks from my library. Before I used the Overdrive app, I would check out the CDs, rip them to MP3, and play them on my Sansa Clip MP3 player. I also use my library to check out ebooks. The library integrates Overdrive into the checkout process (which is handled by Amazon) and it is a delight.

  12. Chuck Coffman
    September 21, 2014 at 2:37 am

    Christian, I'm sure no matter what apps you review, you have readers saying, "what about 'blank' app. " But when talking about audiobooks you really should mention Overdrive Media Console. Combine this app with a free library card and you have access to every audio and ebook in your library's collection (usually almost every book the library stocks. ) And all free of charge! For those who live in a very rural area where the library is very small or nonexistent the library in the closest large urban area will issue you a non resident card for a fee. Overdrive gives me unlimited access to thousands of audiobooks FREE OF CHARGE!
    I think it certainly deserves mention in any review of players. I like Audible but Overdrive does it for free and throws in ebooks to boot.

  13. Jody
    September 20, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    "Listen" Hands down the best audiobook reader.

  14. Tom B
    September 20, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    I've tried a number of different audiobook players, and I really like Audible's. However, for any audiobook I didn't get from Audible, I use the Smart Audiobook Player. It's excellent.

  15. Mac Harris
    September 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I am an Audible subscriber and buy extra credits when offered. The service is good but not great. You can't buy extra credits whenever you want to and you can't give a gift certificate as such. The only issue I have with the player is that sometimes email, text or event notifications can stop it and that it doesn't always resume playing after a phone call.

  16. Dan
    September 20, 2014 at 12:30 am

    I just download the audio I would like to listen to and play it on the default media player on my Android phone (as long as it can play by folder). I don't listen to audiobooks that much anymore, now I'm more into downloading great lectures on iTunesU.

  17. ArgusP
    September 19, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I find Smart AudioBook Player fulfilling all of my needs.

  18. Robert Y
    September 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I generally listen to Moon+ Reader via text to speech. I takes a bit og getting used to, but it's awesome and saves tons of space.

  19. Stephen
    September 19, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *