What is the best way to listen to audiobooks?

Headphones, as used for listening to audiobook apps, arranged in a repeated pattern on a pink background.

Interest in audiobooks has grown exponentially in recent years, with sales surging 42% in the first half of 2020 alone. But as audiences for audiobooks have grown and changed, so have the ways in which we consume audio.

What audiobook app subscriptions are available?

Since audiobooks became available on iTunes in 2003, the need for a specific audiobook device has decreased, with cassette players, CD players, and now iPods gradually becoming obsolete in favour of smartphones. Listening to books is now done primarily through apps, with Audible and Spotify dominating the download market with their subscription models. 

Can I access audiobook apps for free?

But as people grow frustrated with costly subscription models, platforms offering access to free audiobooks have also grown in popularity. Librivox offers free recordings of public domain texts read by volunteers, while apps such as Borrowbox enable users to digitally borrow audiobooks from their local library.

What alternatives are available?

But regardless of their different payment models (or lack thereof), all these platforms require a smartphone, or at the very least a computer and internet connection, in order to be used. Amongst the abundance of audiobook apps available, is there still a place for an audiobook-specific device?

Voxblock offers a listening alternative. A screen free device that doesn’t require a smartphone, or even an internet connection, Voxblock consists of a player, and physical books which play their content when placed in a player. Like the cassettes and CDs of The Good Old Days, listeners can collect, display, and swap their favourite stories. It’s also easier to spend as little or as much as you want, rather than committing to the subscription models championed by Audible and Spotify. 

While plenty of users will favour the sheer volume of content that audiobook apps offer, accessing that content still depends on having a suitable device and internet connection. Voxblock favours ease and portability, rather than relying on technology that can often be unreliable.

It’s so gratifying to see the audiobook industry flourishing, from subscription model apps and free audiobook services, to new devices that offer alternative ways of listening. Audiobooks have huge benefit to listeners - they flex the same cognitive skills as reading does, and aid relaxation and mental wellbeing. There’s a format out there for everyone, so however you want to listen, why not give audiobooks a try?