Best Audiobook Apps for a Hectic Life
Best Audiobook Apps for a Hectic Life!
I keep looking at one particular book on my bookshelf that I cannot quite bring myself to concentrate enough to read. It was R.A. Salvatore’s Homeland, part of the Dark Elf series. If you don’t know what that is, it’s about an subterranean elf named Drizzt that finds himself feeling different and detached from his murderous brethren… Ok getting carried away. The point is. I get far enough to keep reading but life comes up and I can’t seem to make time to sit down and read it. This was research based on need–enter the Best Audiobook Apps for Android.
So what do I do?
I go online and download the Kindle app on the Google Play store hoping that I would get the convenience of having my book everywhere I went so I could just flip out my phone and read.
Then I started seeing my phone die halfway through the day.
Rethinking my strategy, I figured the only real way was to find something that I could listen to while I was doing other stuff. I drive, A LOT. So in driving a lot, I have plenty of time to kill. I’ve considered reading while driving (let’s just say that I absolutely DID NOT do that… wink wink) but I then figured that it just wasn’t worth the ticket if I was caught.
That’s when I realized how slow I was.
Of course they have audiobook apps!
After looking high and low we have the best of the best. No Joke. AND… one REALLY AWESOME discovery.
Here you are:
1. Audiobooks from Audible
Starting my 30 day free trial I had to wonder what exactly it meant. After going through the help section I still wasn’t getting answers but I did notice quite a bit of eye candy in the form of book covers. If there is one bit of graphic design that I think doesn’t get enough respect it’s book covers.
As I went through the entire section on help, then circumvented the various tabs, I realized I should hit back until I got out of the app, then enter the app again. When I did this I saw for some reason that I HAD a book. It was titled, “Why not me?” by Mindy Kaling. I’m not especially a fan of her voice and the only time I’ve seen her was in that movie “The 40-year-old Virgin.”
Upon clicking various places on the book I see that it doesn’t operate on streaming, rather, it works by downloading the entire file. In this case it was 70 MB. after thirty seconds it’s at 5.5 MB. So, if you don’t have a lightning fast connection you may need to wait on titles to finish while you do other things.
Otherwise, the app was developed by Amazon and first and foremost, Amazon was a book company, finding titles won’t be a problem at 180k titles, unless, the titles were never narrated by anyone–unlikely at least for mainstream genres.
The app has a great layout if not a bit confusing as to what a membership entails. This is the gist of it:
You get a free month to try it. During this free month you get a free book. I don’t think you get to choose which book otherwise I would have got The Hunger Games. You then get the app and listen to it across your devices, and you get 1 free book a month with 30% discount on any books thereafter. It does say that exchanges are free and no questions asked (how often have we bought a book that kinda sucked? It happens). Then you get 14.95 thereafter. Signing in with your Amazon Account as well as choosing a card on file for future automatic payments is a breeze. It only took me two minutes.
Final Cost: 14.95 monthly + free book + 30% discount.
Note: It took me 2 minutes to listen to my free audible book and I decided I’m going to stick with it. The fact that Mindy Kaling read it might have helped quite a bit!
“Audible Love it. Though I was hoping that as I’ve been with them for a few months now. They would offer me some deals on the credits. But still it chills me out and now it has all of the harry potters on it, I’m even happier.”
Get Audiobooks from Audible on Google Play
2. Audiobooks by Audiobooks.com
The exact same promotion was to be found in this app. 14.95 a month with one free book. However I don’t think the free book is reoccurring. What happens is, you pay 14.95 a month and that’s basically a book credit.
There are 60k books to choose from, you can also download books, make ratings, and there are a plethora of free public domain books from LibreVox hosted in-app.
I downloaded “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. At a read time of 18 hours we estimated it at 315MB.
As a whole the app is very pleasing with toned down gray and not so bright pumpkin skin orange for the interface. Paying by PayPal is also supported if that is your method. There are no book prices so every book is basically 14.95.
Final Cost: 14.95 monthly + free book + flat rate
October 22, 2015
“New and happy I’ve only listened to one book, Spark by John Ratey. The app is incredibly easy to use and I haven’t had any trouble. Very nice”
Get Audiobooks by Audiobooks.com on Google Play
3. Nook Audiobooks
We all know Nook. It was an E-Reader that was pretty popular with bookworms early in the game. Sadly, they don’t make Nook devices anymore. What they were replaced with was Samsung Tab Nook Tablets. It has the Nook Store and features integration on a deeper level with Android. The saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them” right? I bought a 7″ Galaxy Tab 4 Nook Edition from Barnes & Noble a few years ago and to be honest, they’re a good value.
This app doesn’t go about and try to coax you in with platitudes of saving money and free books. Rather, it puts it’s best foot forward and tells you outright that they’re in the business of selling books with each book’s price right underneath.
There is no Free Book Section, nor a discount area. Instead, they concentrate on presenting a product and if it happens to have a free edition you’ll see it listed. If it happens to be on sale then you’ll see it too.
It compliments my Nook app that’s already on my device, The great thing is every single book allows you to listen to a small excerpt before you buy.
There are some dramatic readings which are actually pretty cool.
As we mentioned before, you have to look for the free recordings. They usually only pertain to Public Domain books where the copyright has expired. But you still need to have a Credit or Debit Card.
I went ahead and looked into the Spider-wick Chronicles and I ended up listening to… ready for it? Andrew McCarthy of all people. Mr. Teen Heartthrob himself. Mr. 16 Candles, Pretty in Pink, and Mannequin. That was an awesome bit of Jeopardy Knowledge for the day.
Final Cost: Varies + Hidden Sales + Hidden Free Public Domain Books
“Awesome audio books for my wife A wonderful way to escape boredom and stimulate the mind”
Get Nook Audiobooks on Google Play
Let us interrupt for a moment…
Before we go further, we want to help you understand a few things. DRM stands for Digital Rights Management which is a form of copy protection that most publishing companies use for their electronic book offering–usually at the behest of the author.
The major argument for this technology is of course piracy. The major opposition for this is the inability to read a book you bought from Amazon Kindle’s Store on your terms with your own e-book app. Publishers have tried to address these concerns with better and better iterations of their proprietary applications designed to read their protected content.
Some of us don’t care much. If we have Kindle or Nook or Kobo on any of our devices then it shouldn’t matter what happens to the things we buy as we will always have it at our fingertips.
What happens if you close your account?
You lose everything.
That is the main problem with DRM.
That being said, audiobooks don’t have to be read by a fancy narrator, nor do they have to be bought from the big DRM partners (Google, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Etc). There are a few solutions to this that may save you a ton of data and allow you to choose what the narrator that reads your books sounds like.
Solution 1 – Strip your books of DRM
This is a controversial step that can be done by most any computer literate individual. It allows your book purchased through Kindle or Nook to be converted to a universal format that has no copy protection like .Epub, .Mobi, or .Pdf.
If you happen to be interested in this then why not do a search?
This used in parallel with an ebook reader from the Google Play Store, we recommend Moon+ Reader Pro for this because they have an option to have your book read out loud to you, even with the screen off. The quality of the voice depends on the program you have reading it. There are a few of them in the play store as well. When you do this you have your own audiobook for little or no extra money!
Get Moon+Reader on Google Play
Solution 2 – Buy DRM-free Ebooks
There are a number of outlets that sell books directly in .epub format. While this is somewhat risky on the part of the publishers, they rely on your personal sense of values. When we buy something we assign value to it. Do we allow someone else to copy it? Probably not because they didn’t pay for it like we did. In a sense, our investment is akin to the investment of the author themselves. This method is a little more time consuming as it can be difficult to find the exact title you want that’s DRM-free.
There are tons of other ways to find straight .Epub formatted books. I recommend you check to see your options. In this example above we downloaded Moon+Reader Pro then set our book location to /storage (Internal Storage).
The file we bought was “Matilda” by Ronald Dahl. Opening it up in Moon+Reader Pro will allow you to listen to the file… wherever you’re at. No extra data fees or downloading time!
The layout for us was simple enough to navigate. Tapping on a section on the page gave us either Page Up, Options, or Page Down.
Of course you can choose your background, text color, text size, and many other display options. We clicked the little headphones at the bottom of the app near the NavBar. We then had to choose our Text-to-Speech Settings (TTS). In this case we hadn’t downloaded any other TTS apps, so we went with Google TTS. Indian women speaking the Queens English always sounded pleasant to the ears. We went with an Indian Female and dowloaded around 6 MB of voice data. Next we were taken back to the app’s TTS options.
As you can see, a quick search in Chrome gave us a few other ways of finding voices. SVOX was a popular choice for TTS back in Android’s Gingerbread days, it still holds it’s own but personally I would go with either IVONA or Google. The regular voices speaking English and British English are also available in high quality but the download is pretty big.
And you’re all set. You can turn your screen off and listen to your book wherever you go.
Final Cost: Nothing (Depending on how you get your books).
Get Google Text-to-Speech on Google Play
Summary note about talking robots
Some people can’t stand monotone speech. They may want to find more enunciated readings through one of the first three audiobook stores as they have real people reading the book to you, sometimes with music, sometimes with multiple people. Some of us happen to be utility focused and don’t care much for a human reading the book to us so as long as we can clearly hear and picture the action. TTS has come a VERY long way since the early days of Mobile Phones but it still isn’t perfect and probably never will be perfect. Regardless of how you choose to access books, we can all agree on one thing. We always seem to not have enough time. Download a few of these apps, try a free trial, try the other method, see what you like.