Can you just buy an audiobook?

Audiobooks are recordings of the text from a book read aloud by a narrator or an ensemble cast. They allow listeners to enjoy the contents of a book by listening rather than reading. Audiobooks have become increasingly popular over the past decade, with sales growing by double digits year after year as more consumers discover their convenience.

Audiobooks are now widely available from a variety of sources. Retailers like Audible and Apple Books sell audiobook downloads directly to consumers. Many public libraries also lend audiobooks digitally through apps like Libby and OverDrive. And audiobook subscription services like Audible, Scribd, and give unlimited access to thousands of audiobook titles for a monthly fee.

With so many options for accessing audiobooks across devices, it’s easier than ever for anyone to enjoy the experience of having a book read to them wherever they go.

Retailers That Sell Audiobooks

There are many popular retailers that sell audiobooks both digitally and on physical media. Some of the top audiobook sellers include:

Amazon/Audible – Owned by Amazon, Audible ( is the largest audiobook retailer with over 475,000 titles. Audible pioneered the digital audiobook and offers subscriptions, individual purchases, and exclusive content.

Apple Books – Previously known as iTunes, Apple Books ( has over 75,000 audiobooks available for purchase or with an Apple Music subscription. Apple offers iOS integration and listening across devices.

Google Play – Google Play Books ( provides access to audiobooks on Android devices. Pricing is competitive with other major retailers.

Kobo – Kobo ( has over 100,000 audiobook titles. Kobo offers apps, eReaders, and integration with Kobo Audiobooks subscription service.

Barnes and Noble – Barnes and Noble ( sells physical and digital audiobooks. Members get discounts and can access free audio samples.

Downpour – Downpour ( focuses on unabridged audiobook downloads with no DRM. They have over 200,000 titles from major and independent publishers.

Storytel – Storytel ( provides an unlimited streaming subscription to over 500,000 audiobooks, ebooks, and podcasts.

Scribd – In addition to ebooks, Scribd ( offers an unlimited audiobook streaming subscription with around 40,000 titles.

Prices and Format Options

The most common pricing model for audiobooks is pay-per-title, where you pay an upfront cost for each audiobook you want to purchase. Prices typically range from $10-$40 depending on the length of the audiobook. According to Audiobook Pricing: How to Set Your Audiobook’s List Price, a 5-hour book is usually priced between $10 and $20. Longer books of 10+ hours can cost $30 or more.

Audiobooks are also available through subscription services like Audible, where you pay a monthly fee and get credits to redeem audiobooks from their library. This can lower the per-title cost, but you are limited to the audiobook selection available through the service.

The most common audiobook formats are MP3 and lossless formats like FLAC. MP3 compresses the audio to take up less space, but this compression lowers the sound quality. Lossless formats preserve the full quality of the original recording, but the files are much larger.

Devices That Support Audiobooks

Audiobooks can be listened to on a wide variety of devices nowadays. Some of the most popular audiobook listening devices include:


Smartphones like iPhones and Android phones allow you to download audiobook apps like Audible or Libby to listen to audiobooks on the go. You can listen using headphones or connect to your car’s Bluetooth system. Smartphones provide a convenient audiobook listening experience. Some people prefer using smartphones over dedicated audiobook players because they already carry their phone everywhere.


Tablets like iPads and Android tablets also support audiobook apps and provide a larger screen size compared to smartphones for those who prefer that. Tablets allow you to read an ebook and listen to the audiobook version seamlessly.


Dedicated e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and Kobo devices support audiobooks through Audible integration. You can switch back and forth from reading an ebook to listening to the audiobook. E-readers also provide distraction-free listening and long battery life.

Smart speakers

Smart speakers with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant let you control audiobook playback with your voice. You can ask your smart speaker to play, pause, skip ahead, or go back within an audiobook hands-free. For example, an Amazon Echo is an easy-to-use audiobook listening device.

Car audio systems

Many cars now come equipped with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, or Bluetooth connectivity to wirelessly play audiobooks from your smartphone or through a connected USB drive. Aftermarket car stereos and audio receivers also frequently support audiobook apps and voice assistants.

Desktop apps

Audiobook sellers like Audible have desktop apps for Windows and Mac that let you download and listen to audiobooks on your computer. The apps sync your library and progress across devices.

Downloading vs. Streaming

When it comes to audiobooks, you have two main options – downloading the audiobook files to your device or streaming the books from the cloud. Both options have their own pros and cons.

Downloading audiobook files allows you to listen to them anytime, anywhere, even without an internet connection. The files are stored on your device, so you don’t need to stream them each time. This makes downloading ideal for frequent travelers or those with spotty internet access. The downside is that audiobook files can take up a lot of storage space on your device. For example, one 10-hour audiobook may be around 500 MB.

Streaming audiobooks means the files are stored in the cloud. You simply stream them on demand via the audiobook app and internet connection. Streaming doesn’t take up storage space on your device. However, you must have an active internet connection to listen. If you lose connectivity, you won’t be able to access the books. Data usage can also add up over time if you listen to audiobooks frequently.[1]

In summary, downloading is better for offline listening and unlimited access. Streaming conserves device storage and makes it easy to start listening quickly. Consider which factors are most important for your listening preferences and habits.

Key Benefits of Audiobooks

Audiobooks offer many advantages over traditional print books. Here are some of the key benefits:


One of the biggest advantages of audiobooks is convenience. You can listen to an audiobook while commuting, exercising, cooking, or doing chores. Audiobooks allow you to experience books when reading a physical copy isn’t possible.


Listening to audiobooks makes it easy to multitask. You can absorb a book while still being productive with other tasks like driving, folding laundry, or gardening. This allows you to experience more books by utilizing small pockets of time. According to Reading Rockets, audiobooks are great for “times when reading a printed text is impossible, such as while driving.”


Research shows that audiobooks can improve retention compared to reading. According to a study published in Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, “Listening comprehension and reading comprehension rely on similar cognitive processes but listening leads to better decoding, prosody, and retention of information.”


Unlike print books, audiobooks don’t take up physical space. Hundreds of audiobooks can be stored on a small device or smartphone. This makes it easy to always have a book on hand and to carry an entire library wherever you go.


For those with visual impairments or reading disabilities like dyslexia, audiobooks can provide greater accessibility to literature. They also provide an alternative way to experience stories for auditory learners. As notes, audiobooks “make literature accessible and build literacy skills” for various groups.

Challenges of Audiobooks

While audiobooks offer many advantages, they also come with some challenges that readers should be aware of before diving in. One common issue cited by audiobook listeners is difficulty staying focused on the narrative. With an audiobook, you can’t pause your reading in the same way you can with a print book. The audiobook keeps playing, which can make it harder to absorb complex information or reflect on important passages.

Audiobook listeners also have less control over the pacing compared to print. You can’t speed up or slow down to suit your reading preferences and have to follow the narrator’s cadence. This can be frustrating if their style doesn’t match yours. It also makes it hard to skim back over previous sections to reinforce understanding or check details, since audiobooks play linearly.

Some find audiobooks less visually engaging than print books. Without illustrations, photos, charts, and other visual elements, audiobooks rely solely on the narration to paint pictures in your mind. For some readers, this limits the experience compared to holding a physical book.

According to one analysis, “…the lack of visual aids in audiobooks makes it harder for listeners to commit story details to memory compared with reading print editions.” (Source)

Audiobooks vs. Print Books

There has been much debate over whether listening to an audiobook provides the same level of engagement and retention as reading a print book. Some studies have found that print books may result in slightly better comprehension and memory, likely because reading requires more focused attention than listening to an audiobook while multitasking ( However, other research suggests audiobooks can boost comprehension compared to print books for some people, like those with dyslexia who struggle to decode words (

Overall, both formats have their merits and the best medium depends on the use case. Print books allow for deeper focus, annotation, and re-reading ability. Audiobooks provide convenience while driving or doing chores, and can enhance access to books for people with vision impairments or learning disabilities. For complex material like textbooks, focused reading may result in better retention. But for leisure reading, audiobooks can provide an equally engaging experience.

Some studies have also found combining print and audio formats leads to improved comprehension. The future may bring more hybrid approaches that leverage the strengths of both mediums.

Future of Audiobook Industry

The future looks bright for the audiobook industry, with all signs pointing to continuing rapid growth. According to Grand View Research, the global audiobook market is projected to reach $35 billion by 2030, expanding at a CAGR of 26.3% from 2023-2030 ( This growth will likely be fueled by further innovation in the space.

One area of innovation will be in enhanced formatting and extra content for audiobooks. Publishers may begin experimenting with adding music, sound effects, or interactivity to create more immersive listening experiences. Audiobooks may also start incorporating supplementary PDFs, author interviews, and other bonus materials.

The rise of celebrity narrators is another trend that is expected to continue. As audiobooks gain prominence, more high-profile actors, comedians, musicians, athletes, and other celebrities will likely lend their voices to narrate titles. Their fame helps market audiobooks to wider audiences. For example, Michelle Obama narrating her memoir Becoming or Matthew McConaughey reading his autobiography Greenlights.

Overall, with audiobooks now firmly mainstream, publishers will continue innovating to enhance the user experience. Celebrity narrators bring more listeners. And steady improvements in technology expand audiobook accessibility and convenience. The audiobook industry has bright horizons ahead.


In summary, audiobooks are widely available for purchase from a variety of major retailers both digitally and physically. While not everyone enjoys the audiobook format, they provide entertainment and value to many readers. With the growth of audiobook sales and the development of new distribution channels, audiobooks have become an important entertainment medium that will continue to grow in popularity.

The major stores that sell audiobooks like Audible, Apple, Amazon, and more allow you to easily buy titles to download or stream. While buying individual audiobooks can be expensive, membership programs and sales provide more affordable options. Audiobooks work across devices from smartphones to tablets to desktop apps, offering versatile listening.

Though some find audiobooks less engaging than print, many enjoy the convenience and hands-free experience. Audiobooks make it possible to experience more books and fit reading into a busy lifestyle. The audiobook industry will likely continue innovating with more immersive performances and accessibility features. Audiobooks have become an integral part of the publishing landscape.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *