Free apps vs. paid subscriptions There’s really nothing like making it through a good book. It can expand your understanding of the world
give you something to do while you wait at the doctor’s office and everything in between. But not everyone has the time to sit down and crack open a tome. For those people, audiobooks are the way to go.
Listening to audiobooks during those little free moments of your day is now easier than ever, but the number of ways to do it can be kind of overwhelming. With dozens of apps to choose from and a whole slew of compatible devices, audiobook listeners have tons of options, but also tons of choices to make.
First, get your hardware in order
If you’re going to listen to audiobooks, then you need something to listen to audiobooks on. It’s pretty safe to assume that anyone reading this has at least one device that fits the bill, as you can listen on pretty much any smartphone or tablet, most Kindle readers, and even an Apple Watch.
A smartphone is probably the most straightforward way to go here, with most of the popular apps being available on both iOS and Android. Aside from that, the only other hardware issue you need to sort out is what sort of audio delivery contraption you’ll use. Let’s be real, phone speakers exist for a reason, but that reason is not to annoy everyone around you by blasting an audiobook of The Three-Body Problem.
You can use literally any headphones or Bluetooth speaker you own for this. I don’t care if you use the Marshall Mode II earbuds, the Sonos Roam speaker, or some wired earbuds you picked up for $15 at the gas station. They’ll all work. There’s no need to be picky.
Use a paid audiobook app…
Just as there are a bunch of different apps for any simple task, audiobook fans have a pretty sizable number of apps to choose from. Many of the most noteworthy audiobook apps require payment in some form or another, whether it’s a monthly subscription, à la carte book purchases, or sometimes a combination of both.
Some well-known names in audiobook apps include:
- Audible (Android, iOS), Amazon’s app with a $14.95 monthly subscription that includes access to an on-demand audiobook catalog as well as one free title from a premium audiobook store per month.
- Scribd (Android, iOS), featuring an $8.95 monthly fee that grants unlimited Netflix-style access to a catalog of audiobooks, magazines, and even government documents.
- Audiobooks.com (Android, iOS), a $14.95 monthly fee gets you access to an on-demand library as well as two credits for free books from the premium store every month.
- Google Play Books (Android, iOS), a free-to-download app that lets you purchase audiobooks individually from the Google Play marketplace,
- Apple Books (iOS), an Apple-only option where audiobooks are sold individually.
If it isn’t obvious by now, there are lots of ways to get audiobooks by throwing down a little bit of cash. But there are also ways to get them without spending any money at all.
… or support your local library
Public libraries are a precious, treasured resource that exists to serve without taking. They provide numerous important services to their communities without a profit motive getting in the way, and that includes the free distribution of audiobooks.
The best part is you never even need to actually go to the library to take advantage of this. Simply get your library card out and input the information into any of the following apps to digitally borrow audiobooks:
If you don’t have a library card, getting one is as easy as walking into your local branch. Or, if that doesn’t work, you can get one online by going through your city’s public library website, calling them on the phone, or even through apps like OverDrive and Libby.
The only caveat to this approach is that library systems have limited supplies of audiobooks. So you might have to put books on hold (or simply pay money for them elsewhere if you’re impatient) depending on your library’s supply.
Make space in your schedule
This last point is something that only you can figure out for yourself, but it’s worth mentioning: Identify the best points in your day to throw on an audiobook and you’ll get through it in no time.
If your commute to work is any longer than a few minutes, go ahead and press play on that audiobook. If you work from home, well, you can listen pretty much anytime you aren’t speaking out loud to another human being, as long as it doesn’t break your concentration. Household chores long walk, and grinding experience points in World of Warcraft are just a few other situations where it might make sense to listen to a book since your brain probably isn’t being fully engaged.
It’s all about what works for you. Whether that means forking over some money to Amazon for Audible’s enormous audiobook selection or borrowing from your local library for free, you don’t need to worry about getting easy access to audiobooks. You’ve got options. Just try not to get too lost in the story and miss your subway stop.