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What are the Best Audiobook Apps in 2021?

If you have been to Lovely Audiobooks before, you might have seen my reviews and comparisons of the most popular audiobook services. And now it’s time to round them all up and find out which one is really the best audiobook app!

Okay, I might have been overly excited there. All of us are different in our reading preferences. Be it the number of audiobooks we go through per month or the genres we enjoy. I may have to let you down before we even go into the details here, but I can’t give you the one and only best audiobook app. I just don’t believe that can exist! But I will try to help you find the best audiobook app FOR YOU! For the way you listen, with the books you enjoy, and that best matches your monthly book budget.

This is an at-a-glance overview of free audiobook apps and apps requiring a subscription. There are however more nuances between the services. If you want more in-depth info, e.g. on the catalog of audiobooks a service offers, you can read more in the blog posts I have linked below each app.

The Best Audiobook Apps in 2021

Audible

Audible is the biggest and most well-known audiobook subscription. And they can afford to offer their members features that other audiobook apps might be lacking.

Pro:

  • Works with or without a membership
  • Regular sales events (requires active subscription)
  • Amazon Whispersync deals (audiobooks for $1.99, doesn’t require membership)
  • Unlimited Audible Originals through the Plus catalog (with membership, additionally to your Audible credit)
  • In-app purchases
  • Easy returns/exchange (but see Cons below)

Con:

Free app
Subscription not necessary, price starts at: $7.95/month (cancel anytime)

Read more: What is Audible Plus?

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Audiobooks.com

Audiobooks.com can’t quite keep up with the features of Audible but offers its own unique services with Audiobook Clubs.

Pro:

  • Works with or without a membership
  • Regular sales and deals (doesn’t require membership)
  • Unlimited audiobooks from Audiobook Clubs catalog (with membership, uses up your Audiobooks.com credit)
  • Audiobook Clubs include traditionally published titles

Con:

  • No returns or exchanges possible
  • Joining an Audiobook Club uses up your monthly credit
  • Audiobook Clubs catalog very limited

Free app
Subscription not necessary, price: $14.95/month (cancel anytime)

Read more: Audiobooks Com vs Audible

LibroFM

LibroFM is an audiobook storefront for indie book shops. You can even choose your local book store and support them directly with your audiobook purchases. They are the only audiobook service that offers DRM-free versions of new and bestselling audiobooks so you can listen to them in other audiobook apps as well if you like.

Pro:

  • Supports indie bookstores
  • Membership model like Audible and Audiobooks.com
  • Cheap deals through Audiobook Clubs (doesn’t require membership)
  • Returns possible
  • DRM-free audiobooks (you can download and save them as MP3s and play them in any app or device of your choice)
  • Well-designed, stable app

Con:

  • Only available in the US and Canada
  • No in-app store
  • No additional membership perks

Free app
Subscription not necessary, price: $14.95/month (cancel anytime)

Read more: LibroFm – The Best Audible alternative

Hoopla

Hoopla is an audiobook app for libraries. If you have a library card from a participating library, you can download free audiobooks through this app.

Pro:

  • Free with a library card
  • Includes bestsellers and traditionally published audiobooks

Con:

  • Limited number of downloads
  • Requires a library card of a participating library

Free app
Library card required

Scribd

Scribd is a subscription service with audio and ebooks similar to Kindle Unlimited. Unlike Amazon’s subscription, it is not entirely unlimited though. Members might be throttled after downloading a certain number of newer bestselling audiobooks and their choices will be limited for the rest of the billing period. This app requires a subscription, but it is one of the cheaper ones.

Pro:

  • Good alternative to library for international listeners who can’t get Hoopla
  • Includes bestsellers and traditionally published audiobooks

Con:

  • App often has issues
  • Not transparent how many or which titles can be borrowed in a billing month

Free app
Subscription necessary, price: $9.99/month (cancel anytime)

Read more: Scribd vs Audible

Chirp

Chirp belongs to Bookbub. Authors can offer their audiobooks at a highly discounted price here and you don’t need to pay a monthly fee. There is no subscription, instead, you can pick us as few or as many of the cheap audiobooks as you like.

Pros:

  • Very cheap deals, even for bestsellers and traditionally published books
  • Deals change often
  • Stable and easy-to-navigate app
  • Not bound to a monthly paid subscription

Cons:

  • Very limited selection of deals
  • Limited time on deals, easy to miss out
  • No in-app store
  • Only available in the US

Free app

Related article: Is Chirp audiobooks worth getting?

Smart Audiobook Player

Smart Audiobook Player is the only audiobook app on this list that doesn’t offer content. This is purely an audiobook player. But it is fantastic at it! I love their sleep timer function because I don’t have to look at the screen to reset it if I want to continue listening, I can simply shake my device. This is a great choice to play audiobooks you converted from CDs (if that is legal in your country), or LibroFM or LibriVox audiobooks.

Pros:

  • Stable app to play MP3 audiobooks
  • Unique sleep timer that resets when your device detects movement
  • A pure audiobook player app, no store

Con:

  • The only paid app on this list

App price: $1.99 (after 30-day free trial)

LibriVox

LibriVox is a project of volunteers who record books that are in the public domain. It is a great choice to listen to Classics for free.

Pros:

  • Free audiobooks
  • Huge selection of Classics
  • DRM-free audiobooks in the public domain

Con:

  • No professional productions

Free app

So, what is the Best Audiobook App?

Okay, if you put me on the spot, I would say that Audible is probably the best audiobook app for iPhone and Android users alike because it is so versatile. Most audiobook listeners will be able to find something here. You can use it with or without a subscription, to borrow audiobooks, or for cheap deals without a subscription. The app is very stable and reliable, and the audiobook catalog is fantastic. So, all things considered, I do believe that everyone who listens to a lot of audiobooks should have the Audible app.

That being said, it isn’t the only option and you might find that you use another audiobook app just as much if not more. Personally, I use LibroFM, Scribd, and Smart Audiobook Player a lot and I probably listen to more audiobooks on each of them than on Audible (which is partly due to having an Amazon Fire tablet, the one device where the Audible app completely fails).

If you are still new to audiobooks, you could give LibriVox a try as well since it’s completely free. And if you have a library card or can get one from a participating library, Hoopla is a must-have and the best free audiobook app you can get.

Even though there isn’t a clear-cut answer, I hope I could help you find the best audiobook app for you!

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2 thoughts on “What are the Best Audiobook Apps in 2021?”

  1. It’s never occurred to me to look for apps other than audible, but some of these sound really interesting! Thanks for providing a run-down like this.

    1. So glad you find it useful! Yeah, there is really so much more out there than just Audible. Audible is kind of the jack of all trades, but if you like (or dislike) specific things, another audiobook app might be much better suited. E.g. for people who hate subscriptions, Chirp is absolutely perfect since they are specifically tailored to only buying cheap audiobooks. If you want DRM-free audiobooks, for example, to listen on an MP3 player, LibroFM is the perfect solution. If you listen to a lot of audiobooks but money is tight, Hoopla (if you have a library card) and/or Scribd are wonderful, since they have such a great selection of both indie and traditionally published audiobooks, including bestsellers and book club favorites.

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