Editor's Note: Apple iBooks now goes by the name Apple Books.
Apple has made some improvements since the last time we reviewed its audiobook store. For example, audiobook downloads are now available in the free Book app, rather than the iTunes Music Store. This separation makes it easy to organize your books and keeps random chapters from playing when you shuffle your music library. It also makes it easier to shop; you can just go to the store’s audiobook section and use the search bar to find titles.
Apple Books doesn’t currently have a membership program, and it doesn’t rent out books – if you want an audiobook from the store, you must purchase it. So, I used it as a baseline to compare monthly subscription services against to find out if they are really worth it. Based on this comparison, I found that if you listen to at least one audiobook a month, you’ll save money by enrolling in a membership with another service. This is especially true if you switch from iBooks to another free iOS app, and all the other audiobook services I tested are compatible with Apple devices.
iTunes has one of the largest selections of audiobooks. I compiled and searched for a list of books to evaluate the breadth of each store’s inventory, and the only one with as many titles as iTunes was Amazon’s Audible, which is the best audiobook service I tested.
While the selection was great, the average cost per audiobook was considerably higher in the Apple Books store than most of the others I reviewed – on average, iTunes charges about $5 more per book than other stores. Online pricing can change from day to day, but as you look for the best service, value should be a key factor in your decision.
The other problem with the Apple Books store is its limited compatibility. Because of the Apple model, it isn’t available on Android devices, so you have to buy one of the company’s phones or tablets to access the store. The app has a few features found on other service’s players, including a sleep timer. This lets you set a time to stop playback, which is convenient if you like to listen to books as you fall asleep.
If you’re an Apple user, buying audiobooks from iTunes is a convenient to keep all your digital downloads in one place. Also, the Apple Books store has a very large audiobook collection, which means you’re likely to find the title you’re looking for. Still, if you regularly listen to audiobooks, we encourage you to check out some of our top picks to build your library. When you listen to at least one audiobook a month, a paid subscription with one of the higher-ranked services is a better value.