Rahul is an app enthusiast who loves scouring the web for alternatives to popular apps and websites. Monopoly mustn't prevail!
Audible—A Reliable Source for Audiobooks
Audible is a leading online audiobook and podcast service that lets users buy or stream audiobooks and several other forms of spoken word content. The company provides both free and premium content, including various Audible originals.
Audible has amassed a comprehensive collection of audio content and boasts of having the perfect listen for every moment. The company's content includes story narrations, audio entertainment, binge-worthy multi-genre audiobooks, and exclusive podcasts among others.
With its bite-sized storytelling and genre-defying Audible Originals, users can choose to listen to their favorite content at any time. There are also content filters for different occasions, feelings, moods, and more, with a clear inclination to serve Audible users the best content at every time, occasion, or their individual situations.
Audible's success relies upon its content variety. With podcasts, audiobooks, originals, shows, and series, users do not lack high-quality content to listen to. Audible allows users to follow their favorite content groups and creators. It also hosts content around special interest topics such as Black History Month, continually pulling in incredible listenership numbers that fuel growth.
Alternatives to Audible
Ordinarily, the success of Audible has attracted admiring glances and culminated in a few rivals coming up. But which of the many alternatives to Audible offer as great an experience?
- Apple Books
- Google Play Books
- Chirp Audiobooks
- Kobo Books
- Nook Audiobooks
As a whole, the Scribd business model is similar to that of Netflix. The company licenses content from the publishers and other copyright holders then pays these parties a portion of their proceeds. This is why Scribd subscriptions are much cheaper than its contemporaries, as neither Scribd nor the customer owns the material post-transaction.
As for Scribd Audiobooks, the company hosts an extensive catalog with millions of titles across multiple genres. The company offers new users a convention-defying free trial period of 60 days, charges a monthly flat rate, and allows users to access unlimited audiobook titles during the course of their subscription.
Besides audiobook titles, Scribd has eBooks, magazines, and podcasts among others that give users a wholesome reading or listening experience. Once a user buys a Scribd subscription, they can access whatever material they want without restrictions. The platform is also compatible with various mobile devices, a web client, and the company website.
Because users do not receive ownership rights, Scribd audiobooks and other titles can only be accessed through the Scribd channels. However, users can save these materials and access them offline, but all such access is revoked if the subscription expires.
- Listen to as much as you want
- More affordable subscription price
- Huge catalog of audiobooks
- Reliable progress indicator
- You do not own the audiobooks
- Limited catalog with few popular titles
- Restricts access to genres you listen to often
2. Apple Books
Apple Books was already a successful division in one of the world's most successful technology companies. Through the website and app, Apple Books delivered a high-quality reading experience for its eBooks, atop an extensive collection of incredible titles across genres.
With this foundation, the Apple Books audiobooks feature took off with the perfect conditions to prosper. And it has. Apple Books users get access to an industry-leading listening experience to audiobooks, podcasts, and other audio media through their iOS and iPad devices.
Most significantly, Apple Books supports multiple audiobook file types, making it an all-purpose eBook reader. Further, the product's support for both eBooks and audiobooks has been instrumental in its growth, allowing users the choice between listening to or reading their favorite books.
Today, Apple Books is one of the global leaders in both ebooks and audiobooks and gives publishers the opportunity to reach more customers. On the other hand, readers have access to an expanded selection of books to consume, both by region and genre.
Apple Books Pros
- First-class user experience
- Polished, elegant interface
- Easy to navigate
- 30-day free trial for new users
Apple Books Cons
- Compatible with devices only
- No support for Kindle format
- Cannot be used on non-backlit devices
3. Google Play Books
Like Apple Books, the Google Play Books’ audiobooks feature was built on an established, robust foundation that helped power its subsequent success. Since then, Google Play Books has combined a sleek appearance and excellent performance with an enviable catalog of multi-genre audiobooks for its listeners.
It also has a wide variety of offerings, including the ability to buy or stream ebooks, audiobooks, comics, and manga, among other audio content. Unlike Audible, however, Google Play Books does not support podcasts. Instead, users can read numerous eBooks, comics, and manga or listen to their narration with high-quality sound and accurate narration.
The platform does not support keyword-based search through their humongous content database. To find a given audiobook, a user must select several BISAC or BIC categories for their material to receive higher discoverability, better than Amazon KDP’s limit of 3 categories.
Consequently, an eBook or audiobook publisher on Google Play Books must use detailed titles, descriptions, and categories to be discovered more. The platform also uses an easy review system through which content reviewers access your book for free in exchange for reviews.
Google Play Books Pros
- Has users in several countries
- Publishers can secure higher prices
- Books enjoy higher visibility
- Easy to run discounts and promotions
Google Play Books Cons
- At least 20 percent of book preview
- Frustrating process for authors
- Not as many titles as competitors
- Low book discoverability
Contrary to common industry practices, Libro.fm provides streaming services in audiobooks only, with no music, podcasts, or even eBooks offered on the website.
The company is a welcome alternative to established streaming service providers, however, especially as it’s invested in supporting local bookstores. Having just launched recently, the biggest selling point for Libro.fm is its collaboration with local bookstores to boost their sales.
This cause has resonated with book lovers and garnered far-reaching support, which saw Libro.fm user numbers soar. The Libro.fm business model is similar to the one Audible uses. The difference, however, is that Libro.fm lets users buy audiobooks from a designated independent bookstore.
Libro.fm book titles are DRM-free, hence customers own the audiobooks they buy the same way as hardcover book owners. Users can also listen to their audiobooks using several different devices, eliminating the restriction in, say, Apple Books.
However, using Libro.fm limits one’s access to more book titles, with the company’s catalog still light years behind its peers.
- 30-day free trial
- Large catalog of audiobooks
- Affordable subscription prices
- User credits do not expire
- DRM-free audio
- Smaller content library compared to rivals
- Users cannot buy additional monthly credits
- The synchronization feature is of poor quality
5. Chirp Audiobooks
Chirp Audiobooks is one of the cheapest audiobooks around. The company does not sell subscriptions or community memberships like its competitors. Instead, Chirp Audiobooks users get access to an extensive library of audiobooks and podcasts, among others.
Chirp Audiobooks users receive ownership rights with their purchases on the app. However, all of these audiobooks and podcasts have digital rights management enabled to prevent uncontrolled copying and sharing.
In essence, Chirp Audiobooks provide the perfect blend of cost-consciousness and unrestricted reading, as customers are not burdened by a monthly subscription. For example, a non-prolific reader can buy books several months apart and still enjoy their reading, unlike the demands of a monthly subscription.
Most importantly, Chirp Audiobooks focuses on audiobook deals. The company endeavors to give its users the best prices on audiobooks, both for readers, listeners, and publishers. Users must agree to receive regular emails that share the latest deals on the latest audiobooks and podcasts. You can also opt into following individual authors, genres, or audiobooks, especially in such cases of book or podcast series.
Unlike Audible and Scribd, Chirp Audiobooks is a sales distribution platform. It makes the content available to users with ease and only includes the regular deals as a welcome addon. Further, these deals do not apply to sales made on rival platforms, as Chirp Audiobooks does not promote audio content by other providers. Instead, users wishing to take up the deals shared in emails must complete any such purchases on the Chirp Audiobooks platform.
The greatest downside of Chirp Audiobooks, however, is its limited market coverage. While most streaming services do not restrict their market geographically, serving US and Canada only excludes Chirp Audiobooks from a trove of eligible customers. It also denies consumers access to an affordable solution in a market with continually rising subscription prices.
Chirp Audiobooks Pros
- Pocket-friendly sale prices
- Great selection of titles
- Attractive design, easy to use
- Customers own their purchases
Chirp Audiobooks Cons
- Smaller catalog than its rivals
- Serves the US and Canada only
- All audiobooks are DRM-enabled
Of course, the world leader in music streaming offers audiobooks. And the kicker? Spotify audiobooks are available completely free to all Spotify subscribers, including those on free and paid plans.
Revived in early 2021, Spotify will now offer an audiobook listening experience to complement its other audio streaming businesses in music and podcasts. Spotify accepts incomplete book uploads and partial book series and has created a follow function where readers can follow the artist and be notified of future uploads.
Spotify’s audiobooks catalog is admittedly smaller than that of its competitors. However, expect the streaming giant to incorporate advanced AI machine learning and offer advanced audiobook recommendations based on your reading preferences. This catalog will be growing very fast in the next few months to bolster the company’s competitive position in a growing market.
Listeners can search their favorite audiobooks from the header menu, as direct navigation is difficult given the amount of audio content the platform hosts. You can also create your own library of audiobooks, a list of favorite reads, as well as follow your favorite authors. This ensures that users would be notified whenever these authors upload new books in the future or share any other updates.
- Free for all listeners (for now)
- Advanced audiobook recommendation system
- Extensive content catalog
- Smaller catalog of audiobooks
- Hard to find quality audiobooks
- Pricing unpredictability whenever introduced
7. Kobo Books
Kobo Books boasts an expansive collection of audiobook titles at incredibly reduced subscription prices. It is one of the cheapest audiobooks services in the world and still accords its new members a free trial for 30 days.
Kobo Books premium users receive one credit point every month, which they can exchange for any audiobook title listed on the platform without reference to its actual retail price. The biggest advantage is that users can own any audiobook title purchased on Kobo Books, as all listed titles are DRM-free.
Unlike Spotify and other major rivals, you can read your audiobooks offline from anywhere and using any device of your choice. Kobo Books is compatible with Android and iOS mobile devices, as well as a computer client and through its official website.
With a catalog spanning both eBooks and audiobooks, Kobo Books users can enjoy a more comfortable and convenient experience through customizations. Specifically, users can alter the text display on eBooks or voice quality on audiobooks, with a night mode ensuring you can use the app at any time.
Kobo Books users can build private audiobook lists or discover popular recommendations from a community-like support ecosystem. The audiobook catalog is expansive and varied, ensuring everybody gets to listen to an interesting book.
Kobo Books Pros
- 30-day free trial
- Affordable monthly subscription
- Huge audiobook library
- Keep downloads for life
Kobo Books Cons
- Can only be used on mobile devices
- The app is very slow
- Poor search functionality
8. Nook Audiobooks
Nook Audiobooks is the audio extension of Barnes & Noble. This affiliation hurts Nook Audiobooks immensely, with the service suffering from generalism and lagging behind specialized audiobooks service providers like Audible.
Unlike major audiobook services, Nook Audiobooks has no subscription model that allows users to access several audiobook titles. Instead, users only buy the audiobook titles they need to listen to, with Nook Audiobooks acting as a storefront for audiobooks.
Due to its affiliation with Barnes & Noble, Nook Audiobooks boasts an incredibly large catalog of audiobooks, with thousands of bestselling audiobook titles available at a fraction of their usual retail prices.
Once purchased, you can listen to your audiobook offline at your own pace. Still, Nook Audiobooks gives users free sample audiobooks, which can be downloaded in their entirety for later listening using the Nook Audiobooks App.
Unfortunately, the mobile app does not save your progress or bookmark where you were just before closing the app. On-the-spot buying also makes Nook Audiobooks more expensive than its peers, with there no options for discounts. Customers also have to put up with poor functionality, while the catalog does not host audiobooks by indie authors.
Nook Audiobooks Pros
- No monthly fee
- Decent selection of audiobooks
- Reputable brand
Nook Audiobooks Cons
- Only available on mobile devices
- Poor customer experience
- Cannot save progress, so users restart every time
- Relatively expensive
- Less choice than rivals
Did I miss out on any other good Audible alternatives? Let me know in the comments section.
© 2022 Rahul Pandey