If you’re looking for a convenient way to fit more books into your busy life, audiobooks are a great one. You can listen to them on your commute, while you’re lounging around on vacation, or while you’re completing boring tasks around your house.
One of the best ways to maximize your listening experience is to sign up for a service that gives you access to a ton of books at once—and we’ve got you covered with the best audiobook subscription services—both paid and free—for your bibliophile needs.
In this guide, we’ll cover our favorite audiobook platforms and note the pros and cons of each. Grab your headphones and get ready to hear a good book.
Though you might have misgivings about Amazon, Audible’s parent company, there’s no question that this audiobook service is one of the very best around. It has plenty of titles—hundreds of thousands, in fact—that you can buy, rent, stream, and listen to offline using its official apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and Amazon devices (naturally). You can also play audiobooks through your Sonos speaker via your Audible or Sonos app.
Your progress through an audiobook is stored wherever you listen to it: on the web, on an app, or in your car, for example. And that’s good; you don’t want a service that makes it hard to pick up where you left off.
Audible offers a free trial which gives you 30 days of membership and a free book. After that, the service costs $15/month for one credit (good for one audiobook), but you get to keep any books you’ve bought if you ever cancel. (You’ll also have unlimited access to select titles in the Audible catalogue—called Audible Plus Listens—to listen to via streaming or download, but only as long as you remain a paying member.) At the time of writing, Amazon is also offering 4 months at $5.95 a month for new listeners who sign up before Dec. 31, 2023.
You don’t have to be an Audible member to buy audiobooks, but if you are, you get a 30 percent discount on any purchases. Those books are available for you to listen to any time, even offline, and the service integrates with your Amazon account so your discount will also appear when you browse for books on Amazon.
Depending on how much you read, Audible’s selection and credit system makes it a great value. (No, you won’t get a special bonus discount for buying the physical copy of a book and then buying the audiobook, but you do often save a little bit if you buy the Kindle version of a book first and add on the Audible track—go figure.)
Huge catalog of audiobooks, podcasts, and original titles
Books are yours to keep after subscription ends
Depending on your perspective, it’s part of Amazon
Sign up for Audible
If you just can’t bring yourself to use Audible, Audiobooks.com has more than 425,000 audiobooks for $15 a month. You can start with a 30-day free trial, which comes with three free books. Audiobooks.com has curated listening lists and bonus books every month as part of its VIP Rewards program (free for all members). If you have multiple book lovers in your home, there’s a family plan that allows you to share books, and each user can save their own bookmarks without interfering with others’ listening.The service has apps for iOS and Android, which have helpful features like offline listening and a sleep timer.
30-day free trial includes 3 books
Family plan for multiple listeners
Access to VIP content ends upon cancellation
Sign up for Audiobooks.com
Barnes & Noble also has an Audible-like service at the same price point ($15 per month for 1 credit after a 30-day free trial) with access to more than 300,000 audiobooks. However, the service is not quite as flexible as similar alternatives, as there’s only one plan with no option to add credits, and credits expire 30 days after your subscription ends. Listen on the B&N Nook app on iOS or Android. The app also pulls in other content purchased from B&N and syncs across devices.
B&N Audiobooks pros:
Nook app combines audiobooks with ebooks and other digital content
Discounts on audiobook purchases with subscription
B&N Audiobooks cons:
Limited subscription options compared to other services
Sign up for B&N Audiobooks
If you want to support your local independent bookstore instead of a huge corporation, Libro.fm gives you access to more than 150,000 titles for $15 a month, a percentage of which goes to the bookshop of your choice. Select one of more than 2,500 booksellers when you sign up, and get one credit (equal to one book) per month as well as 30% off individual audiobook purchases with your membership.Libro.fm has apps for iOS and Android with features like a sleep timer and automatic syncing of bookmarks and listening progress across devices.
Subscription supports independent bookstores
Curated bookseller playlists and recommendations
No free trial (offers free book with membership signup instead)
Sign up for Libro.fm
Everand is the audiobook service from Scribd, which still houses community-uploaded documents of all kinds, from court filings to research papers. The platform has audiobooks, ebooks, podcasts, magazines, and articles for you to peruse and stream, which makes the service’s low monthly fee ($11.99 with an initial 30-day free trial that also includes Scribd access) a relative bargain.
Everand’s apps for iOS, Android, and Amazon devices make it easy to find, stream, and download audiobooks for offline listening. And the sleep timer automatically turns off your audiobook after a set time (so you don’t stay up past your bedtime reading, er, listening to all the things).
Although Everand’s audiobook offerings aren’t quite as comprehensive as Audible’s, you get a wider selection of services for your lower monthly fee—ideal for those who also like reading their favorite monthly magazines after listening to a book or two on their commutes.
Multiple content types included in monthly fee
Helpful features like offline reading and sleep timer
Monthly reading limits
Spotify has had audiobooks available for purchase on its platform for about a year, but the service recently rolled out a feature that allows Premium users 15 hours of free listening time per month with access to more than 200,000 titles. Once you hit that limit, you’re cut off unless you purchase the book or a 10-hour top-up (note that hours don’t roll over month to month).
A Spotify Premium subscription costs $10.99 per month after a 1-month free trial ($14.99 per month and $16.99 per month for Duo and Family plans, respectively). On Duo and Family plans, only the primary subscriber can access the audiobook benefit. If you’re already a Premium user, this is a nice extra feature, but it’s likely not worth subscribing if you simply want to listen to books.
Listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks all in one app
Limits on listening time rather than per book
Not available to Duo and Family plan members
Sign up for Spotify Premium
Over 45,000 libraries support OverDrive, a service that makes it easy to check out audiobooks and ebooks—for free—right from your smartphone or tablet. All you need is your library card and a library in your community that supports the service. (Odds are great you’ll find at least one.) Libby is Overdrive’s library reading app available for iOS, Android, and Amazon as well as on the web.
The service is completely free as long as you have a library card for whichever library (or libraries) you want to use. Yes, your selection may vary by library, but Overdrive’s website does a great job of showing you other locations where you’ll be able to find a book you might want to read (or listen to).
You can read ebooks and listen to audiobooks offline, and you can pick up where you left off no matter how you’re listening to your content. Your position, bookmarks, and notes are all synchronized between your devices. Both the number of books you can check out at once and the borrowing term are set by your local library—and you may have to wait a while for popular titles.
Free to use
Offline access and device syncing
Selection varies by local library catalog
Waitlists for popular titles
Much like OverDrive, Hoopla allows you to check out various types of media from different libraries; the content list includes audiobooks, ebooks, and music, as well as TV shows and movies. You authenticate your library membership by providing the number on the back of your card (digital or physical), which gives you access to your library’s digital offerings.
You can view your content on Hoopla’s website or via its app for iOS, Android, and Amazon devices. Like Overdrive, you are allowed to check a certain amount of content at once in various categories of media, but it’s easy to check stuff back in once you’re done listening to/reading/viewing it (or once your “borrowing” period expires, just like a real library!).
Hoopla is completely free, which is a great selling point, and its online reader for ebooks has all the settings you probably care about: font sizes, background colors, text margins, line height, etc. Its content is limited to what your library offers, which will give you all the incentive to hop in the car and make a membership run to a few of your local libraries the next time you have a free weekend.
Free to use
Multiple media categories, including audiobooks and ebooks
Selection is limited by your library’s catalog
Must return at end of borrowing term
This story originally ran in March 2015 and was updated in June 2018 with additional reporting by David Murphy, in May 2020 and again on Nov. 11, 2023, by Emily Long to include the following: replaced screenshots, added and updated information about featured services.