Audiobooks have literally changed my life, turning moments of mundane activity into opportunities to hear a story, absorb knowledge or learn a new skill. Audiobooks turn the laborious commute or housework into an epic adventure, the benefits of Audiobooks are undeniable.

Best Audiobook Services
Best Audiobook Services & Subscriptions Tested

In fact, our unique survey of hundreds of audiobook users reveals how they use audiobooks to improve their work, life, and even sleep routines.

I have listened to over 250 audiobooks over the past 9 years and have personally tested, used, and have had subscriptions to all the Audiobook services in this review. View the side by side Audiobook Service Comparison Table, or continue reading.

The Best Audiobook Subscription Services

  • Audible: Best Audiobook Collection & Lowest Subscription Costs per Book
  • Blinkist: The Best Audiobook Summary Service & Great Value Subscription
  • Audiobooks.com: Huge Library & Low-Cost Subscription
  • GetAbstract: Best Audiobook Summary Collection for Business
  • Scribd: The Best Unlimited Audiobook Subscription Service but Limited Titles
  • Apple Books: Subscription Free but Limited Audiobook Service
  • Google Play Books: Subscription Free Audiobooks & Below Average Cost per Book

Our Audiobook Survey Conducted in January 2020 supports our results & testing. Polling nearly 1,000 professionals on their favorite way to listen to audiobooks, the majority overwhelmingly used Audible.

Pie Chart - Survey Question: What is the Best Audiobook Service?
Pie Chart -- Survey Question: What is the Best Audiobook Service?

Audible AudiobooksAudible Audiobooks

Simply the Biggest & Best Audiobook Collection + The Lowest Subscription Costs per Book

Audible Review SummaryLikesDislikes
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆★ You Own the Book for Life✘ Nothing
★ The Biggest Library 200K+ Titles
★ Lowest Cost per Book $4.13
★ The Best Returns Policy
Visit Audible★ Compatible on All Devices
★ Syncs with Kindle

 

Review Winning Software

Audible Review Summary

Audible is the leader in the Audiobook industry with by far the largest library of titles with over 200,000 audiobooks in its library.

New releases and bestsellers are inevitably released on Audible first as its market share and customer base make it irresistible.

For me, one of the most important elements of books or audiobooks is that you get to keep the books you pay for.  I own over 250 titles with a value of $2,500 and I am pleased that I can hand them down to my children in the future.  Some services such as Scribd offer an unlimited listening subscription, but you are really just borrowing the book for the duration of your subscription.  When you end the subscription you have nothing.  With Audible you can still log in and use the app even when you have ended the subscription.

Audible Pricing Plans

With Audible, you need a subscription, but that subscription means you get to buy books at a tiny fraction of their actual retail value.  Some believe that Audible is expensive but the reality is that they are the cheapest way to buy audiobooks.

Audible Audiobooks App - Homescreen - Always has a Good Member Deal
Audible Audiobooks App -- Homescreen -- Always has a Good Member Deal

Audible Subscription -- $14.95 per month

The entry-level subscription with Audible is actually the best value because you will get 1 credit for any title and also 2 free Audible Original titles. This means you get 3 books per month for $14.95 therefor $4.98 per book.

If you pay this subscription annually you will pay $149.50, meaning you get two free months and this brings the average cost per book down to $4.13, this is the lowest cost in the industry.

You could also opt for $22.95 per month for 2 audiobook credits and 2 Audible Original titles but that works out at $5.50 per book.

Whichever subscription you choose, you will get 30% off any other purchases you make.  But the best news is that even if you run out of credits, Audible will allow you to buy additional credits at between $5 to $7 per credit, depending on the offers they have.

Additionally, nearly every single week you will receive special promotions for “2 books for 1 credit” or “Every book for $3”, which are simply excellent deals.

Finally, Audible has a massive selection of exclusive professional Podcasts that they offer free to members and at Christmas, they will also send you Christmas stories for the family and children, a really nice touch.

Audible Customer Service & Returns Policy

One of the most important reasons why Audible is the clear winner for me is that they have the best returns policy in the industry.  If you do not like a book, for whatever reason, the narrator, the plot, or it is simply boring, you can return your book within 1 year of purchase.  You can simply go to Account -> Purchases -> Click Return Title and you are immediately refunded your credit.

The Excellent Audible App Library - Easy To Use.
The Excellent Audible App Library -- Easy To Use.

There is nothing worse than paying for a book that you ultimately dislike, Audible removes this problem with their “Great Listens to Guarantee”.

Finally, you can contact Audible via phone, chat or email.  I have used chat many times and they are available instantly 24/7 with no wait, that is a great service.

Audible App & Device Compatibility

Play Store App Rating -- 4.6 ☆ Excellent

Having used the Audible app for 8 years I can safely say it is rock solid, easy to use and actually perfect.

The Audible App has the following key features:

  • Car Mode -- Make the app simple to use when driving with bigger buttons
  • Books Sharing -- Send a Book to a Friend or share your progress
  • Clips, Bookmarks & Notes -- saving sound clips and making notes
  • Sleep Timer --  useful for listening when you go to bed so it does not play all night
  • Variable Speed Playback -- great for slow narrators or digesting long books quicker

Your Audible books will play on all devices from Apple, Android, Smart TV’s and even the Amazon Alexa smart speaker will read them to you.

Visit Audible

Why Audible Video

Try Audible Free Today. “Listeners Testimonial” Commercial :30

 


Blinkist Audiobook Summary ReviewGet 1 Free Blink Audiosummary Every Day for Free

The Best Value Audiobook Summary Subscription Service

Blinkist Review SummaryLikesDislikes
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆★ Over 3,000 book summaries✘ Email-only support
★ Professionally Summarized & Narrated✘ No Books Ownership
★ Extremely low-cost subscription
★ Unlimited Access Audiobooks
Visit Blinkist★ Free Users Get 1 Summary Free per Day
★ Android, Apple & Amazon Alexa

What is a Book Summary Service?Review Winning Software

Blinkist and GetAbstract are both services that pay writers and narrators to summarize a non-fiction book.  A typical book might take between 4 to 10 hours to read or listen too. That is a long time to invest to learn a few key lessons. Book summary services distill the key messages and takeaways from the book and transform them into much shorter versions.

Of course, a summary audiobook service will only work with educational, self-improvement or business books, you could not summarize a Sherlock Holmes Crime Thriller into 15 minutes, the book would be ruined.

Blinkist Review Summary

Blinkist Audiobook Summary App- New York Times Best Seller List
Blinkist Audiobook Summary App- New York Times Best Seller List

About 6 months ago I signed up for a free trial of Blinkist to try out Audiobook summaries.  I liked the service so much I purchased a yearly subscription.

As a passionate Audiobook listener, I was very excited at the opportunity to listen to an entire book in 15 minutes. Interestingly, there were books that I thought had some great messages and I learned from them.

There were also books that I was very pleased I did not spend 10 hours reading to get that simple or even unremarkable message.

So for me, this service is great.

Blinkist is a very professional service, their narrators are first class, and the books are very logically laid out and easy to follow.  With every book summary, you get a high-quality 15-minute audiobook and a written summary of the book if you prefer to read it.

I particularly like the feature to listen to the summaries of the New York Times Bestsellers List (see image right).

The single downside for me is that you only have access to the books as long as you subscribe to the service.  This is however understandable because the service is unlimited listening, you do not buy a book, you buy the access to all the books.

Blinkist Pricing Plans

Blinkist Basic Plan -- Free

Amazingly Blinkist allows you to register for their free plan, in which you can access a free Blink (their name for a book summary) of their choice every single day.

I assume the idea is that you will like the Blinks so much you will later upgrade to the Premium service to get access to the whole library and choose what you would like to listen to.  Of course, they are correct, this is exactly what I did.

Blinkist Premium -- Unlimited Summaries

Blinkist has a single premium plan that gives you access to as many books as you want.  The key difference is in the pricing.  If you opt for a monthly subscription it costs, in the USA, $15.99 per month, meaning $191.88 per year.

However, I recommend paying for the year in advance, which is a single payment of $99.99, which gives you 12 months of access for a 45% discount.  A great deal.

Blinkist Audiobook Summary App - Library
Blinkist Audiobook Summary App -- Library

GetAbstract is also an excellent service which costs $299 per year, with access to 20,000 summaries, but in terms of value for money, Blinkist is a clear winner.

Customer Service & Returns Policy

In terms of returning books, I have previously mentioned you do not actually own the books you access the service, it is more like Netflix rather than buying a DVD. So, ultimately there is nothing to return.

You can cancel your subscription at anytime online with a few clicks and the customer services teams are available via an email or webform.

App & Device Compatibility

Playstore App Rating: 4.4 ☆ Excellent

The App itself is a breeze to use, simple and effective.

My library is well organized and my saved books and favorite books are easy to access.

What I particularly like is the ability to highlight text in a book via the App or Browser.

You can simply select the text and click highlight and it will be saved in your Highlight tab.

This is perfect for keeping track of those lightbulb moments or key inspiring messages in a book.

The app is highly rated in the App stores and impressively Blinkist is also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa smart speaker, so Alexa can read them to you.

Visit Blinkist

Why Blinkist Audiobooks Video


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Audiobooks.com Review & TestGet 2 Free Audiobooks with a Free 30 Day Trial

A Huge Library & Low-Cost Subscription Model

Audiobooks.com SummaryLikesDislikes
Rating: ☆☆☆☆★ You Own the Book for Life✘ Vague Returns Policy
★ Large Library 150K+ Titles✘ No Smart Speaker Support
★ Low Cost per Book $5
★ App Store Rating 4.3 ☆
Visit Audiobooks.com★ Android & Apple

 

Audiobooks Review Summary

Highly Recommended Software

I have been testing and using Audiobooks.com for over 8 weeks now and I have to say that the library is very large and the service works very well.

With access to over 150,000 audiobook titles, and new releases arriving quickly, you will not notice any real difference between the Audible service and Audiobooks.com.

Importantly, like Audible you own the book, which means that even if you terminate your subscription you should have access to your audiobooks, for me this is vital.

However, there are two drawbacks that I need to mention, the returns policy and the lack of smart-speaker support (see below).

Firstly, there is no easily discernible way to return a book you are unhappy with.  In fact, looking into the user agreement it says: “Audiobooks.com grants refunds at our sole discretion. We do not offer refunds on any subscription charges”.

Audiobooks.com a Great App With Good Recommendations.
Audiobooks.com a Great App With Good Recommendations.

Secondly, there is no support for smart speakers like Alexa, Apple or Google Now.

Audiobooks Pricing Plans

Free Trial

Audiobooks.com offers a free 30-day trial during which you can access 1 free credit for a full Audiobook and get access to a free VIP Book.

Monthly Membership

The monthly membership costs $14.95 per month which gets you 1 credit for a book you own and access to an additional VIP book from a selection they have curated.

This means the average cost per book is $7.48.

The only issue I have with this is that you do not actually own the VIP book.  It will always be in your library, but if you end your subscription, you will only have access to the books you purchased with a Credit, all the VIP books will be removed as they were only loaned to you, not actually purchased by you.

This essentially means the real cost per book should you end your subscription is $14.95.

On the positive side, they are always running 2 for 1 deals, which means that is you find books in the deal you may bring your average cost per book back down to $7.50.

Audiobooks.com Always has A Special 2 for 1 Deal
Audiobooks.com Always has A Special 2 for 1 Deal

Customer Service & Returns Policy

As mentioned previously, for me, the ability to return a book at any time that you do not like is a critical feature. Unlike with Audible, with Audiobooks.com, there is no easily discernible way to return a book you are unhappy with.

In fact, looking into the user agreement it says: “Audiobooks.com grants refunds at our sole discretion. We do not offer refunds on any subscription charges”.

This could be an area where Audiobooks.com can improve and be clearer.

App & Device Compatibility

App Store Rating: 4.3 ☆ Good

The Audiobooks.com App is very simple and easy to use.  I particularly like the recommendation engine and how the browsing screen is very visual (see the image above)

However, viewing your own library could be improved in the app as the book thumbnails are large and difficult to navigate.

The App has some important features like a sleep timer, notes, bookmarks, and playback speed control. I really like the ability to easily follow an author and be notified of any future releases, this is something Audible does not have.

The only thing missing is car mode and compatibility with a smart speaker.

Visit Audiobooks.com


GetAbstract Review & TestVisit GetAbstract

Best & Biggest Audiobook Summary Collection, Perfect for Business

GetAbstract Review SummaryLikesDislikes
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆★ Over 20,000 book summaries✘ No Books Ownership
★ Professionally Summarized & Narrated✘ No Smart Speak Support
★ Book Analysis Also Available
★ Unlimited Access Audiobooks
Visit GetAbstract★ Perfect for Businesses & Teams

 

Review SummaryReview Winning Software

Blinkist and GetAbstract are both services that pay writers and narrators to summarize a non-fiction book.  A typical book might take between 4 to 10 hours to read or listen too. That is a long time to invest to learn a few key lessons. Book summary services distill the key messages and takeaways from the book and transform them into much shorter versions.

The key differences between GetAbstract and Blinkist are the size of the library and the target customers.

GetAbstract is the largest book summary service with over 20,000 book summaries in audio and written formats in 7 different languages. They also analyze the book not just summarize it, which can help you make sense of the meaning and ramifications of a topic.

In terms of target customers, you can see this is a solution geared for business, as they will also assist you in rolling out the learning solution to your organization. In fact, over 150 of Fortune 500 companies have already deployed GetAbstract to their companies.

Pricing

Student StarterStudent ProProEnterprise
Free$99 /year$299 /yearCustom Pricing
5,000 Summaries20,000 SummariesUnlimited AccessUnlimited Access

If you are a student, you get a really amazing deal as you can see in the table above.  For regular individuals, the price of $299 per year is $200 more than Blinkist, but the depth of topics is clearly way ahead. Also, you can probably write these costs off against tax as part of your professional development investment.

So, ultimately GetAbstract is the best book summary service available, so the pricing is invariably higher than Blinkist.

As an individual, who wants access to a great selection of summaries at a low-cost look at Blinkist.  For power users and small to enterprise-scale businesses, GetAbstract is the right choice.

GetAbstract Review Summary

Although on the surface, GetAbstract looks like it is competing with Blinkist, its primary revenue source and business model is focused on the corporation.  This is a good thing as it has the scale to integrate into corporate learning systems to help employees boost there career and performance.

GetAbstract is an excellent service for the enterprise and very good for individuals if it was not for the large price tag for individual consumers.

Visit GetAbstract


Scribd ReviewVisit Scribd

The Best Unlimited Audiobook Subscription Service but Limited Titles

Scribd Review SummaryLikesDislikes
Rating: ☆☆☆☆★ Unlimited Audiobook Listening✘ You do not own the books
★ $8.95 Flat Rate per Month✘ Limitations on Accessing Popular Titles
★ 100+ Magazines
★ Good Apps for Android & Apple
Visit Scribd★ 1,000s of eBooks

Review Summary

Highly Recommended Software

There are a lot of fans of Scribd out there especially avid readers and audiobook listeners.

Scribd announced something very new in the world of media, a Flat Rate unlimited access to the Audiobook, eBooks and Managzine Library.

This essentially went viral, because, before this announcement, everyone was forced to pay for audiobooks individually.

There is nothing official from Scribd, but I estimate the Audiobook library to contain about 30,000 to 40,000 titles, this is a lot lower than Audible or Audiobooks.com, but I also suspect that the publishers receive a lot less revenue from Scribd, so they are less inclined to release new and best-selling titles.

Netflix for Audiobooks -- Scribd

Scribd App for Audiobooks - A Good User Experience
Scribd App for Audiobooks -- A Good User Experience

Scribd is very similar to Netflix in its business model, it licenses content from publishers and pays those publishers on a per-use basis. As a consumer, we see only a low flat rate subscription charge per month for a large amount of content.

The reason the monthly subscription is so low is that you do not own the books, you are simply allowed to access them for the duration of your subscription.

Scribd Magazines

Scribd has 100 magazines, which you can access via browser or the App.  I was very excited to see this, but when I read a few magazines I realized the experience is not like really reading a magazine.  I do not mean the paper, I mean the layout and editing.  The magazine articles are in simple HTML with simple images, in fact, some of the magazines like T3 were very poorly formatted indeed.

Scribd Pricing Plans

The Scribd pricing is very simple, it is $8.95 per month for unlimited access to their library of books, audiobooks, and 100+ magazines for the duration of your subscription.

If you stop the subscription, you lose access.  For many, this is not a problem, ff you listen to a lot of audiobooks and are not interested in building up a library of books that you own, then it is a great solution.

I have been with Audible for 9 years, I have 255 audiobooks, which cost me approximately $2,500 over that period, but those books are mine for life and for my children.

If I had been with Scribd for that period it would have cost me $972 but I would own nothing.  It is like the difference between renting and owning a house.

Customer Service & Returns Policy

I have seen many complaints online that Scribd is throttling heavy audiobook consumers as they consume too many books.  Also, I have read that certain bestselling titles are restricted to one or two per user month, or not even visible, for some users.

I have not experienced this, but I can understand that it is a balancing act for Scribd, to ensure they earn in revenue what they need to pay to publishers and that some do not abuse the system.

App & Device Compatibility

Scribd App Store Rating: 4.5 ☆ Excellent

I have been using the App with my new subscription for two months and have found it an absolute delight to use. Running on Android and iPhone the app actually has everything you would need to enjoy Audiobooks and other media.

Key App Functionality:

  • Sleep timer
  • Bookmarking & Note Taking
  • Sharing
  • Playback speed control

Apple Books

A Subscription Free but Limited Audiobook Service

Apple Books SummaryLikesDislikes
Rating: ☆☆☆★ You Own the Book for Life✘ Locked into Apple Eco-system
★ Apple Exclusive Extra’s
★ Average Book Cost $9.99
Visit Apple★ Compatible on All Apple Devices

 

Apple Audiobooks Review

Although there is no mention of Audiobooks on Apple’s homepage, they do in fact offer a reasonable audiobook selection. In typical Apple style, they are investing in some Apple-exclusive audiobooks and extras to existing audiobooks such as interviews with authors and narrators.

This is nowhere near the scale of exclusive or extra’s offered by Audible, but at least Apple is trying. It is about differentiating yourself from the market. Apple, however, is a new contender in this space, whereas Audible have been doing this for 10 years.

You do not need a monthly subscription for Apple Books and the prices are reasonable at an average of $10 per book.  Not really comparable to Audible, but without a subscription, it is OK for the occasional listener.

In iTunes, browsing Audiobooks is really nicely laid out and thought through, which makes finding your next listening experience a breeze


Google Play Books

Subscription Free Audiobooks & Below Average Cost per Book

Google Play Books SummaryLikesDislikes
Rating: ☆☆☆★ You Own the Book for Life✘ Limited Features
★ Below Average Cost per Book $8✘ Library
Visit Google Books★ Compatible on Android & Google Assistant

 

Review Summary

If you install the Play Books app on your phone you will be able to browse the collection of audiobooks available on the Play Store.  It is not a particularly large selection of books, but they are there and it is possible.

If you do not listen to Audiobooks often, Google Books is definitely an option.  You are not tied into a monthly or yearly contract and the prices for the books are reasonable.

I calculated an average price per book of about $10, and there are some audiobooks that are on sale for as little as $3, however, they are older, shorter and less popular audiobooks.

Detailed Audiobook Service Comparison Table

 AudibleBlinkist Audiobook SummariesVisit Audiobooks.com/getabstractScribd AudiobooksVisit AppleVisit Google Books
Our Rating☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
Audiobook TypeFullSummaryFullSummaryFullFullFull
Do You Own the Audiobook
Lifetime Access to Books
Audiobooks Collection200,000+3,000+150,000+20,000+40,000 est40,000 est20,000 est
Membership /month$14.95$15.99$14.95$29.90$8.95No MembershipNo Membership
Membership /yearly$149.50$99.99$299--
AudibleBlinkist Audiobook SummariesVisit Audiobooks.com/getabstractScribd AudiobooksVisit AppleVisit Google Books
# Audiobooks / month3Unlimited2UnlimitedUnlimited--
Cost per book /monthly subscription$5-$7.48--$9.99$9.99+
Cost per book /yearly subscription$4.13------
Subscription RequiredYesNoYesYesYesNoNo
Audio QualityExcellentGoodGoodGoodExcellentExcellentGood
Books Returns Policy1 Year, No Questions AskedNothing to ReturnAt Vendors DiscretionNothing to ReturnNothing to Return
Customer SupportPhone, Chat, EmailEmailPhone, Chat, EmailPhone, EmailEmail OnlyNoneNone
AudibleBlinkist Audiobook SummariesVisit Audiobooks.com/getabstractScribd AudiobooksVisit AppleVisit Google Books
Special ServicesAudible Original Podcasts1 Free Summary per Day Free
eBooks
Magazines
Podcasts
App Store Rating4.6 ☆4.4 ☆4.3 ☆3.9 ☆4.5 ☆N/A4.3 ☆
DevicesiPhone, Android, PC, TV, Alexa, Kindle, Fire TViPhone, Android, PCiPhone, Android, PC, MaciPhone, Android, PCiPhone, Android, PCiPhone, PC, MacAndroid, PC, Mac, Google Now
Smart SpeakerAlexaAlexaGoogle Now
Best AudiobookServices Comparison Table

 

Barry's 25 years of experience with Silicon Valley Corporations such as IBM, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Hewlett Packard Enterprise & DXC Technology enables him to share his knowledge of succeeding in today's professional corporate environments and develop a great work life for yourself.

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