Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
One of the best things about audiobooks is that you can take them with you wherever you go. At your desk, in the kitchen, on the road, on a run — there’s nowhere that you can’t be listening to a work of fiction.
However, the places where you do most of your listening (and which devices you use to listen to audiobooks) can change which audiobook apps you should be using on a daily basis.
We have found six of the best audiobook apps available right now, all of which offer something different. Your job is to work out which audiobook app is right for you.
For Compulsive Listeners: Audible
Audible is the biggest player in the audiobook game, and the app gives you access to over 150,000 books. The service has just about every audiobook out there, and the pricing system is very reasonable. $15 per month for one free audiobook and a discount on additional books purchased isn’t bad at all — and the company’s secret silver plan is perfect for less-compulsive audiobook fans.
The app itself has some great features, too. There are the features you would expect from a top-tier listening app, like variable playback speed, bookmarking, and offline listening. But it also syncs with your Kindle so you can continue listening to Kindle books via Whispersync for Voice.
Like the Kindle, you can also sync your notes and bookmarks between devices.
If you listen to audiobooks constantly, there’s no better app than audible. The massive store, integration with Amazon and Kindle, and easy-to-use interface are tough to beat.
For DRM Haters: Downpour
Digital rights management (DRM) basically means that you don’t own what you buy. Instead, you lease it indefinitely. And that comes with some caveats, like only being able to listen on certain apps and the possibility that your lease could be revoked at any time.
Downpour is an audiobook app that lets you download DRM-free audiobooks from the company’s store. There are some books with DRM, but if you’re looking to own your books, Downpour is a great choice.
You can also rent audiobooks, which could save you some money:
Downpour doesn’t pack in as many features as Audible, but it does have the important ones, like bookmarks and variable playback speed. The fact that you can try the app on a free book (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) and without signing up is a big plus too!
For Free Book Lovers: Librivox
Librivox has over 24,000 free audiobooks that you can stream or download directly from its app. There are some compromises you’ll have to make, such as most of these books being narrated by volunteers so you never know how good the narration is going to be.
The books are all in the public domain, so you won’t be getting the latest bestsellers. If you can deal with those two things, Librivox is a great way to go. There are tons of great public-domain books available, especially if you’re into the classics, and some of the narrations are actually quite good.
The listening interface isn’t the best, as it lacks some of the nicer options present in other apps. But because the books are DRM-free, you can load them into another app if you’d like. No matter which app you use, the fact that you can download thousands of free books is a massive plus.
For Interface Appreciators: Audiobooked
Most audiobook apps aren’t all that exciting to look at. They let you browse books, play them, and tweak the playback settings. The creators of Audiobooked wanted to make an app that not only functions well, but also gives you a great interface. And they have succeeded.
Unfortunately, Audiobooked is currently only available for Windows 10 Mobile. But if you’re using this operating system, you have access to one of the best audiobook apps available.
With the ability to handle tons of bookmarks, adjust the playback speed from 0.5x all the way up to 3.0x, lots of import options, and a customizable library, Audiobooked was clearly designed for fans of audiobooks who are also fans of great design.
Here’s hoping it becomes available on other platforms in the future. Especially as Microsoft has abandoned Windows 10 Mobile.
For Indie Bookstore Lovers: Libro.fm
Amazon may have all the books, but local, independent bookstores are still a joy to visit. With Libro.fm, you don’t have to buy audiobooks on CD to support your local bookstore. Open an account, select your local bookstore, and buy the audiobooks that they have made available for their patrons.
Every book you buy is DRM-free, so you own it. Listen into the Libro.fm app on your phone, on your computer, or import the file into your preferred listening app. No matter what you do, you’ll be supporting your favorite local bookstore!
You get bookmarking, variable playback speed, and a variety of methods for sorting your library. Which is great. But the main plus point with this app is that you’ll be supporting local bookstores by buying audiobooks.
For Library Patrons: OverDrive
Did you know that you can check out audiobooks from your local library? (This is my favorite way to get through a long road trip.) The OverDrive app is a very common one for libraries, and it interfaces with your library website to give you instant access to your audiobook.
You can access your library and browse audiobooks from within the app, download them instantly, and play them wherever you are. You can also use the OverDrive app for ebooks too.
Like most other listening apps, you can add bookmarks, adjust the playback speed, pick up where you left off, and makes notes and highlights. OverDrive saves your bookmarks, notes, and highlights so that they’ll appear if you check the book out again, which is great if you can’t quite finish a book before you have to return it.
What Are Your Favorite Audiobook Apps?
These six audiobook apps are sure to appeal to all kinds of audiobook listeners. But there are plenty more out there, and everyone has their own preferences. Maybe you prefer a wider range of playback speeds. Or a more intuitive interface. Maybe you don’t care about having access to a store all of the time.
No matter your preferences, we want to hear about your favorite audiobook apps. Which audiobook apps do you use? Why do you like them? Which is the best one on our list? Please let us know in the comments below!