How I Listen to Audiobooks

Photo by Lee Campbell via Unsplash

Ahh, audiobooks. Talking about them proves to be a bit of a controversial topic. People are either die-hard fans, or they hate them with a burning passion.

Some people think that listening to audiobooks is a convenient way to get some reading done, while others say that books aren’t meant to be heard, or that it’s cheating because you haven’t technically “read” the book.

You know the type: “Oh, you listened to it? So you didn’t actually read it.”

First of all, stories were verbally conveyed long before they were ever written down. And even today, we read aloud to our children. Have those children not consumed and understood that story as if they’d read it themselves?

Secondly, listening to audiobooks is just such a convenient and unique way to consume a book that you’d otherwise never have the patience or time to actually sit down and read.

Sure, there’s a difference but isn’t the goal to understand, interpret, and enjoy a piece of literature? The way in which that’s accomplished shouldn’t matter, but that’s an argument for a different post entirely.

Needless to say, I love audiobooks, and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve been listening to them for as long as I can remember, but the modality has changed quite a bit.

My mom and I used to road trip to South Carolina once or twice a year, and we would rent a few “book-on-tape” cassettes at Cracker Barrel because back then, you could pick up an audiobook there and return it to any Cracker Barrel in the country.

Things have obviously changed.

Unfortunately, even though audiobooks are much more accessible these days due to streaming devices, they can still be surprisingly pricey.

Don’t despair just yet! There are several ways to listen to audiobooks without spending a ton of money.

Here are the three audiobook platforms that I use that don’t break the bank.


Scribd (iOS/Android | $8.99/month)

This is my personal favorite audiobook app, but it’s also great for people who like reading on their phone or tablet. For only $8.99 a month, you get unlimited access to Scribd’s vast library of e-books, audiobooks, newspapers, magazines, and even sheet music. Definitely check this one out.

Libby by OverDrive (iOS/Android | Free; requires library card)

This is a new find for me. It’s made by OverDrive (the more popular library digital distribution app), and so I decided to give it a try. It is much more user-friendly and atheistically pleasing than OverDrive is, in my opinion, but it’s essentially the same thing.

To use Libby, you have to have at least one library card (but you can add more than one), and that grants you access to your library’s selection of digital audiobooks and books to read on your phone or tablet. If the book is available, you can start listening/reading right away, and you have 14 days until you have to return it. If it’s waitlisted, you can put your name on the list, but the wait can be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, which is honestly the only downside to Libby to me. It’s very satisfying when you find a book that’s available because you can listen to it right then and there for free!

Audible (iOS/Android | $14.95/month)

Audible is probably the most well-known audiobook website because they’ve been around the longest and have the widest variety of titles. You pay a monthly fee of $14.95, and that gets you one audiobook credit. After downloading a title, it is yours to keep forever, even if you cancel your account with Audible.

They also offer a free 30 day trial with a free audiobook when you sign up. Just for being a member, you get 30% off any additional audiobooks that you want to get after using your credit; however, the audiobooks are pretty pricey (around $30 per book).

Audible is owned by Amazon so if you, like me, aren’t interested in paying the 15 bucks a month but have an Amazon account, you can purchase the audiobook right there on amazon.com and listen to it on your Audible app. Some audiobooks are less than the price of an Audible membership, while some are much, much more. I use Audible this way if I can’t find the book I want on Scribd or Libby.

I hope this list inspires you to give audiobook listening a try—I almost guarantee you won’t regret it.

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