Audible is one of the most popular online portals for purchasing, downloading, and listening to audiobooks. They have a larger library than most of their competitors, allow you to listen to books that you purchase on the Audible website or your device of choice, and offer different subscription plans that help you save when you buy multiple books -- and even get some free ones! However, Audible's subscription packages are rather expensive, and the books that you buy can't be downloaded or listened to on anything other than Audible-authorized apps.
Free Audible alternatives -- if that's what you're into -- include the likes of the library-driven OverDrive.com, as well as the volunteer-run LibriVox.org. Or, if you're just looking for audiobook stores that offer less expensive subscription rates, then we would recommend Audiobooksnow.com or Downpour.com.
Whether you're just looking for free audiobooks or would like to pay a little bit less for today's hottest titles, here are nine Audible competitors.
An Audible competitor from Canada, Audiobooks.com has a very similar structure. It requires you to sign up for a $15-per-month subscription, but once you do, you get one free book per month. After that, you can buy extra book credits at any time (unlike on Audible), and get any other books that you want for reduced prices. Their library of titles is a little smaller than Audible's, but rather comparable, at about 100,000 titles.
Audiobooks Now is very similar to Audible, but its major departure point is in its pricing structure. Whereas Audible's lowest membership fee is $15 per month, the lowest membership fee for Audiobooks Now is $5 per month. In addition, Audiobooks Now offers up to 40% off of the regular price of its audiobooks with a membership fee, in contrast to Audible's 30% off. However, you get fewer free books with an Audiobooks Now membership (but still get 50% off the first book that you buy each month. Audiobooks Now also only has about 60,000 audiobooks for sale, as opposed to Audible's 150,000.
Downpour works a little bit differently than some of the other alternatives to Audible here, in that it allows you to both purchase and rent audiobooks, depending on your needs. It is also a bit less expensive than Audible, with its membership fee costing $13 a month as opposed to $15 per month for Audible (though Downpour has no other options) and getting you one free book a month. Downpour also allows you to listen to any books that you purchase on any software that can play them, as opposed to having to use Audible-exclusive players for books purchased from Audible.
Playster is a unique Audible alternative in that it doesn't follow a "buy, or subscribe to save" pricing model. Instead, you are required to sign up for a membership in order to use it, and its cost is almost twice as much as Audible per month. However, Playster operates on an "all-you-can-stream" system, so with your membership, you can watch as many movies, listen to as many audiobooks or music tracks, or play as many video games as are available in Playster's library. You can also choose to only have access to one type of media in order to cut costs a bit, but Playster is still kind of expensive.
OverDrive is a free alternative to Audible that can be accessed with a valid student ID or a library card. Sort of a cross between Downpour and Playster, it offers rental downloads of e-books, audiobooks, movies, music, and more that can be enjoyed on your desktop computer or your mobile device. However, you are limited to the selection that your local library has in stock, and the item that you download will stop working once your rental period is up.
If you'd like to know more about how OverDrive works, check out our OverDrive course.
LibriVox, like OverDrive, is a completely free place to download audiobooks. However, unlike OverDrive, there are no strings attached to listening to what you want to hear. All books on LibriVox are considered to be public domain works, so they're read by ordinary people like you and distributed to the public for free, for anyone to download. If you think you have a good voice for reading books, you can even volunteer to help expand LibriVox's collection!
Now owned by Japanese e-commerce group Rakuten, Kobo is a spin-off from Canadian book company Indigo. Instead of selling audiobooks, though, it sells a similar product called "e-books". These are electronic books that you can read using special applications or devices (which Kobo provides or sells), similar to how you would listen to audiobooks from Audible.
Alibris is less of a bookstore than it is a book exchange. It runs by having independent sellers use the website to sell physical copies of books, movies, and music. This can even include rare copies of media that have gone out of production. You might even want to join as a seller yourself, if you have collectible books, movies, or music to pawn off!
One of the largest traditional booksellers in the world, Barnes & Noble now sells audiobooks, as well. They also sell an assortment of other things, such as e-books (and e-readers), magazines, decorative items, toys and collectibles, movies, and music. Check out their full line of products, and see if there's something that you or someone else would like in their store!
Have you tried any of these websites like Audible? Were they as we described them, word for word, or is there something that you would like to add to our overviews of them? Are there any other places not on this list that you go to buy audiobooks, and that we and our users should know about? Please tell us more by leaving a comment below, or having a word with us on our Facebook or Twitter pages.
For our last lesson, we'll show you how to cancel your Audible account in case, for example, you'd like to use one of these alternatives exclusively.
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