So you want to get into audiobooks but not sure the best way to access them? Already bitten by the bug but finding it expensive? Let me share with you everything I’ve tried out, as a UK listener.
One completely free way of listening to audiobooks is via your library’s digital services. In the UK there’s a good chance your library is either using Libby (Overdrive) or BorrowBox. Mine (Hampshire) has just moved over to BorrowBox and the selection of audiobooks has improved greatly. You won’t be able to listen to everything you want to this way, but it’s a good way to supplement your listening without breaking the bank.
Not a library member? A lot of libraries will now let you sign up online so you can access their digital services straight away. You can find out who your local library is here.
If you know you’re going to want to listen to a lot of new releases via audiobook, bulk buying credits via an annual Audible membership offers a good deal. The 12 credits a year membership works out at £5.83 per book and the 24 credit option at £4.58 per book. You do have to pay these upfront but if you run out they will sell you extra credits at a similar rate. If you haven’t tried it before, you’ll get one credit free as a trial and sometimes you can get 3 or 4 months for half price.
As much as I try not to give Amazon all my money, Audible do have the best selection and their credit system can be a lot cheaper than buying audiobooks elsewhere. They also offer member only sales (don’t use your credits for these) and 2 for 1 offers.
Did you know you can get a discounted Audible audiobook version of Kindle books you own if they have whispersync enabled? You don’t have to join Audible to use this feature. Go to Matchmaker (whilst logged into Amazon) to see what books in your library are available. You can also check on the product page to see if it’s worth buying a cheap Kindle copy to get the audiobook at a discount. I have a lot of Kindle books bought in sales over the years, so this can be a cheap way of listening to them on audio instead.
BookBeat is a European subscription service which costs £12.60 a month and you can listen to as many audiobooks as you like. They mostly have audiobooks from HarperCollins, Bonnier and Canongate, so if you have a lot of these on your listen list it’s worth a few months. The standard free trial is two weeks but you can have a look around for an extended one month trial.
Scribd is a US based subscription service that looks too good to be true, and sadly I feel this is the case. Their advertising is somewhat misleading, as after listening to two audiobooks, they’ll suddenly stop you accessing most titles until the next billing cycle. That’s not unlimited and I don’t think they’d get away with that claim here.
You will still be able to listen to a limited selection for the rest of the month, which does include a lot of Tor novellas and some older titles. Another problem I had was the sound quality, and I had to give up on a few titles because the narrators sounding like they were hissing. If you only listen to two audiobooks a month and you are not fussy about the quality, it’s a cheaper option than Audible at $8.99 (about £7) a month. I liked BookBeat more, they at least felt honest.
You can also buy audiobooks via Google Play and iTunes, and sometimes they have good deals on some titles, but I begrudgingly like Audible the best. I know I can get anything I want from them. I wish they would just lower the cost of audiobooks bought without credits (is anyone actually paying £20+ for them?).
All these services offer apps for Android and iOS or can be accessed in browsers. If you have an Amazon Echo, Alexa will play Audible books for you too.