How do audiobooks work?

Find out how do audiobooks work, why you may prefer them over print books, and about some of the best audiobook providers.

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How do audiobooks work?

Audiobooks are among the most valuable digital resources for education and entertainment, but not everyone uses them. People used to buying books in book stores, borrowing hard copy books from the library, or reading audiobooks from a Kindle might not find them easy to use. Some probably don’t see their value.

Luckily, using audiobooks is much easier than most people think, and the audiobook industry is projected to keep growing in the coming years.

What are audiobooks, and how do they differ from books?

An audiobook is a digital audio adaptation of a traditional book. It allows readers to listen to a recording of the text as performed by a narrator or a full cast of voice actors. Audiobooks come in popular audio file formats like WMV, MP3, WMA, AAC, and others. Therefore, they are compatible with all devices that can stream audio, from smart watches to mobile phones to tablets and computers.

Audiobooks help readers improve their time management by allowing them to absorb information while performing other tasks. Audiobooks make content accessible to people with dyslexia and other reading disabilities. Furthermore, they can make it easier to learn and build literacy skills, especially when paired with the traditional print medium.

Creating an audiobook usually requires a professional studio and experienced voice actors or narrators. It can take many hours to record an audiobook. But these days, there are software alternatives that can streamline the process.

How to listen to audiobooks

People can listen to audiobooks in many ways. The first audiobooks came on vinyl records before tapes came along. Today, most people use modern technology to listen to recordings of their favorite books. Android and Apple devices, like smartphones, iPads, iPhones, and Kindle tablets, make for excellent listening devices.

Listening to an audiobook is a simple matter of buying, renting, borrowing, and playing it using a dedicated audiobook app or another media player.

The versatility of audiobooks makes them suitable for any avid book reader. Audio versions of books don’t cut large parts of the stories as movies do. However, audiences can still get a more immersive storytelling experience than reading.

Where to get audiobooks

Several audiobook services and apps can help you access vast libraries of free audiobooks, bestsellers, and abridged and unabridged versions of non-fiction and fiction works.


Amazon’s Audible is one of the top audiobook services. It has a massive collection of books in an audio format. The Audible app comes with a flexible audiobook player, and you can choose between different subscription plans. Additionally, you can listen to original podcasts.

Another leading audiobook service,, has some of the best audiobooks around. The platform offers unlimited access to its audiobook collection, many exclusive deals, and a free audiobook each month.


The Scribd platform is a welcomed alternative because it offers audiobooks and e-books. Users can access more than one million titles, from novels to podcasts to magazines and sheet music.

Apple Books and Google Books

iOS and Android device users can use the Apple Books and Google Play Books marketplaces to get free audiobooks or buy audiobooks using a fast and straightforward payment system.


Developed by OverDrive, Libby is a library app that requires users to have a library card. You can use the Libby app to borrow audiobooks and other materials from a local library.


The Kobo audiobook service is one of the cheapest around and has many high-quality stories available in an audiobook format. The app is compatible with Android and iOS devices.


LibriVox is an audiobook service without a monthly subscription. The non-profit library contains public-domain audiobooks narrated by volunteers. You can download many titles and listen to them without a Wi-Fi connection.

Setting up your first listening experience

Creating the perfect audiobook listening experience isn’t difficult. First, you’ll want a device—preferably mobile, if you don’t plan on sitting at your desk. Then, download an app that can find and stream or download audiobooks.

If you don’t know what audiobooks to start with, focus on a favorite series, or read a few online reviews. But note that the story isn’t the only thing that matters. Finding a good narrator makes a big difference in your listening experience.

In case you aren’t alone, headphones could be necessary. Naturally, there isn’t much more to it than finding your favorite story and hitting the play button. Remember that you can always rewind or adjust the reading speed for an optimum listening experience.

Transform any text into speech with Speechify

Speechify offers a solution for audiobook listeners who can’t find their favorite titles or can’t afford them. The text to speech software can generate realistic narrations using advanced deep-learning algorithms. It can convert digital and physical text into audio content in multiple languages and offers adjustable playback speed, among other features. You can read along with the narration to enhance your literacy skills or absorb complex information for educational purposes.

Try Speechify for free and create a personalized and unique audiobook library from almost any digital file format on many popular devices and platforms.


How much does it cost to listen to audiobooks?

Listening to audiobooks can be free of charge when using free audiobook resources, but some subscription services charge upwards of $14 per month for quality audio content.

What is the average length of an audiobook?

It depends on the length of the book. Some audiobooks have run times of four to seven hours, while others run for 14 hours or more, depending on how many parts are in the book.

How many CDs are in a typical audiobook?

CDs don’t store a lot of data. Therefore, a standard audiobook may have anywhere from six to 18 CDs or more. The number is smaller if the audiobook publishers burn it on DVDs.

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