Which app is the best for audio books?

Audio books have exploded in popularity in recent years. According to Publishers Weekly, the audio book market generated $1.3 billion in revenue in 2020, up from just $480 million in 2012. The number of audio book titles published each year has also grown substantially, from around 7,200 in 2010 to over 50,000 in 2020. Surveys show that over 50% of frequent readers now also listen to audio books.

With this growth in demand, a number of apps for listening to audio books have emerged. The top options include long-time market leader Audible along with Apple Books, Google Play Books, Kobo, Downpour, Libro.fm, Audiobooks.com, and Storytel. This article will compare the key features of these major audio book apps to determine which one offers the best overall user experience. The thesis is that Audible is the premier choice based on its vast library, affordability with subscription plans, and smooth user interface optimized for audio books.


Audible, owned by e-commerce giant Amazon, is the largest provider of audiobooks in the world. With over 475,000 audiobook titles, Audible has the biggest selection of any audiobook app.

Audible operates on an inexpensive monthly subscription model, giving listeners access to 1 credit per month which can be used to get any audiobook regardless of price. Subscribers can rollover unused credits to the next month and get discounts on buying extra credits.

The audiobooks on Audible are professionally narrated and produced, resulting in high quality recordings without background noise or amateur narration. Audible offers useful features for listeners including bookmarks, variable speed playback, and highlighting key passages.

Apple Books

Apple Books is the pre-installed audiobook app on iOS devices, making it a convenient choice for iPhone and iPad users. As an Apple app, it integrates seamlessly into the Apple ecosystem. You can start listening to an audiobook on your iPhone, then pick up right where you left off on your Mac or iPad. Apple Books grants access to Apple’s large catalog of over 700,000 audiobooks, with more added continuously.

Apple Books provides a clean, intuitive interface for browsing, listening, and managing your audiobook library. You can adjust playback speed, set a sleep timer, bookmark your place, or download titles for offline listening. Ratings and reviews are available to help you find your next great listen. Basic features like bookmarks and variable playback speed make Apple Books a solid app for audiobook newbies.

Google Play Books

Google Play Books is integrated well with Android devices and good for users already embedded in the Google ecosystem. It has a decent selection of books with over 100,000 titles according to Google[1]. However, Google Play Books has limited features compared to leading services like Audible. There is no option for audio navigation by chapters or ability to clip and share portions of audio books. The Google Play Books app itself is also fairly basic in terms of features and customizability.


Kobo is a strong contender in the audiobook space, offering a more affordable monthly subscription plan compared to Audible. The standard Kobo plan is $9.99 per month for a single credit versus $14.95 for Audible (Kobo Audiobooks Review: Better than Audible?, https://booksummaryclub.com/kobo-audiobooks-review-better-than-audible/). The Kobo catalog features over 100,000 audiobook titles, including many bestsellers and new releases. While extensive, Kobo’s catalog is smaller than Audible’s, which boasts over 470,000 titles (Rakuten Kobo Review — Is It Good for Audiobooks? |, https://whattobecome.com/reviews/rakuten-kobo/).

Where Kobo falls short compared to Audible is in its features and user experience. Audible provides seamless integration across Amazon devices like Echo and Kindle, while Kobo lacks the same level of ecosystem integration. The apps and interfaces for Kobo also tend to be less polished and intuitive than Audible. However, for those looking to save a bit of money compared to Audible with a solid audiobook catalog, Kobo remains a strong contender in the space.


Downpour focuses on selling audiobooks from indie authors and small publishers, resulting in a more unique catalog compared to larger audiobook apps. Downpour Review — What Makes It Unique? Downpour has no subscription option; instead, you pay for each audiobook. Some customers find Downpour’s interface clunkier than competitors like Audible and Libro.fm. Since Downpour emphasizes obscure and rare titles, they don’t have the latest bestsellers. But for audiobook lovers looking to discover new authors and support indie publishers, Downpour is a standout choice.


Libro.fm is an audiobook service that distinguishes itself by supporting local bookstores. When you purchase an audiobook from Libro.fm, a portion of your payment goes to an independent bookstore of your choice. This allows you to financially support local booksellers while enjoying audiobooks.

The Libro.fm app is clean and easy to use. It offers standard audiobook playback features like variable speed playback and sleep timers. However, the app itself is fairly basic compared to some competitors.

One downside of Libro.fm is that its catalog size is smaller than leading services like Audible. As of 2023, Libro.fm offers around 150,000 audiobook titles while Audible has over 500,000 (source). So hardcore audiobook fans may have trouble finding niche titles on Libro.fm.

Libro.fm’s pricing also isn’t as competitive as other companies. Their monthly membership costs $14.99 which is similar to Audible’s $14.95 fee. However, Audible offers steeper discounts for members and has the Plus catalog of free audiobooks (source). So overall, Libro.fm’s value proposition is weaker unless supporting local bookstores is important to you.


Audiobooks.com has a vast library of over 200,000 audio books available for purchase (https://www.reddit.com/r/audiobooks/comments/122tvgi/audiblecom_or_audiobookscom/). Unlike Audible, Audiobooks.com operates on a credits-based model rather than a monthly subscription. Users can purchase credits which are then used to acquire audio books from the Audiobooks.com library. This allows more flexibility and control over spending compared to Audible’s subscription-based model.

The Audiobooks.com app itself is functional but lacks some of the polish and user experience of Audible’s app. However, the extensive audio book catalog on Audiobooks.com is a major advantage. With over 200,000 titles, users are very likely to find what they are looking for. The credits system also appeals to many audio book fans who prefer having more direct control over purchasing.


Storytel is a popular audiobook streaming service based in Sweden that has gained traction in Europe but has limited reach in the US market. Storytel operates on a Netflix-style unlimited listening model where users pay a monthly subscription fee to get unlimited access to its catalog of audiobooks, ebooks, and podcasts.

One of the benefits of Storytel is its strong back catalog of over 500,000 audiobook titles across an array of genres and languages. However, some critics have pointed out that Storytel lacks many new release titles, especially from major publishers in the US and UK. So while its back catalog is robust, Storytel does not always have the latest bestsellers.

Overall, Storytel is an appealing option for audiobook listeners in Europe who want an unlimited listening model. But its smaller presence and catalog limitations in the US may make it less ideal for American listeners looking for comprehensive access to new releases.[1]

[1]“Audible VS Storytel: Which One Should You Choose in …”, https://www.viwizard.com/audiobook-tips/audible-vs-storytel.html, Accessed: February 27, 2023


When looking for the best audio book app, Audible stands out as the leader with the best overall user experience, catalog size, and value. Audible has by far the largest selection of audio books available, intuitive apps across platforms, and provides the best bang for your buck with their affordable monthly subscription.

Apple Books could be a good option for iPhone/iPad users who want seamless integration with their existing library. Google Play Books allows you to upload your own audio books easily. Kobo and Downpour are better choices for finding deals on individual titles rather than a subscription. Libro.fm and Audiobooks.com are Audible alternatives focused on supporting independent bookstores and publishers. Finally, Storytel offers a more Netflix-style flat rate streaming model.

For avid audio book listeners looking to get the most for their money, Audible is the best overall choice. Apple Books or Google Play appeal to users stuck in those device ecosystems. Choose Kobo or Downpour if you prefer owning titles outright. And Libro.fm or Audiobooks.com for the most socially conscious options.

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