My Four Favorite Sources for Audiobooks

I probably get more questions about audiobooks than anything else, and one of the biggest questions is about where I get my audiobooks.

Oh, I’m glad you asked (you did ask, right?)! There are four major sources we use at our home, and I’m sharing the pros and cons of each, plus some more details about how we use them.

Wondering where to find audiobooks? These are my four favorite sources for getting audiobooks (three of them are free!) for my children and me.

Books on CD

Pros: Free from your library, easy for kids to use
Cons: Dealing with all those discs and keeping track of them (and listening on regular speed. . . ) 

We almost always have a book on CD in our car – I choose one that we can all listen to together and whenever all three of the older girls are in the car, we turn it on and listen. If we’re missing a girl, we’ll listen to Circle Round episodes or music. The girls also listen to their own audiobooks on the CD players they have in their room during quiet time or as they’re falling asleep at night. It’s just so straight forward.

In the past, I would upload audio CDs to my computer, then import them onto my iPod or phone and then delete the files when I finished the book and returned it to the library, but now there are so many digital options that I haven’t done this in probably five years.

I personally never listen to books on CD because they feel so slow to me after the digital ones where you can crank up the speed, plus it’s fairly rare for me to drive by myself.


Pros: Massive selection (no one has a better selection), easy to use, can buy books without a membership, big sales periodically
Cons: Not free

Oh, I could just talk about Audible all day long and how awesome and easy it is to use. You can get a membership for about $15 a month (Bart and I share a membership) and that gives you one book a month, or you can choose a more expensive plan to get more books. You can sign up for a free month trial here with two free audiobooks of your choice (and I know that sometimes when you go to cancel your free trial, it’ll offer you three months at half off, so about $7 a month, which is hard to beat, although I don’t know that it always happens).

Anyway, you just download the app, pick your books.

Also you don’t have to have a membership to buy Audible books off of Amazon. When they have a good sale, you can pick up audiobooks for $2-3 each and they’ll drop right into your app, ready to listen to, no membership required (if you want a more detailed tutorial on that, let me know and I’m happy to write about it!).

I love Audible because the books never expire since you own them, and there is easy bookmarking, speed adjustment and all the other little bells and whistles in a super easy-to-use app.

Whenever there is a sale, I stock up on children’s books that we can listen to in the car.


Pros: Free
Cons: Collection depends on your library, hold lines can be super long, limited time to listen before your book expires (usually 7-21 days)

This is my most used source for audiobooks because FREE (but also hold lines longer than Space Mountain). Most libraries use this system and it works just like a library – you can check out a certain amount of books per card, you can place a certain number of holds, and if you’re on hold, you have to wait until it comes in.

There is an Overdrive app, which I’ve used for years, but there is also now a new app called Libby (I don’t pretend to understand why they have both – maybe they are phasing out the Overdrive app? I have no idea). Libby is much better, I think, because you can add all your library cards to one account instead of having to log in and out if something is on your child’s card versus your card, and it’s just a nicer user-interface, more along the lines of Audible. You can bookmark books you want easily and you can see all the books you have checked out, but you don’t have to download them all, which is really nice since they can take up a lot of space.

Libby doesn’t seem to work yet on the girls’ Fire (Overdrive does), but it does work on our Nook and iPad and my iPhone. And I only use Libby now on my phone – never Overdrive anymore (it was pretty glitchy at first and was making me nuts, but now they seem to have worked out the kinks).

Of course, I have the constant problem that I have with the physical library which is that I can’t find ANYTHING that isn’t on a hold list and then everything on my hold list comes in at once, so basically it’s constant feast or famine for me with Overdrive and I can’t tell you how many books I haven’t QUITE finished before they automatically expire and return to the library. I do love Audible way more because of that.

Overdrive also has e-books and Libby can send them straight to your Kindle.

My girls use this Overdrive or Libby on their tablets and listen all the time before bed or just carry them around the house and listen while they’re doing puzzles, coloring or building with Legos.


Pros: Free, no hold lines
Cons: Limited selection, can only use a certain number per month (usually 10)  

This is the one I use the least, but it’s a nice backup option and I know other people LOVE it. It’s also through your library and has an app, but instead of hold lines, you just have a limit on how many checkouts you get per month (usually 10) and it’s applies to movies, books, or audiobooks. I’ve found for my libraries, at least, the selection is significantly smaller, but it’s great for classics or when you just need something free to listen to RIGHT NOW.


This is my favorite topic, so I’m happy to answer any questions, no matter how tiny! And I’m sure there are things that I missed that I’m not even thinking of because I’ve used all of these services for so long, so feel free to ask about any audiobook issues and I’ll try to answer!

P.S. The most popular section in my Raising Readers course is about audiobooks for children and how to incorporate them into your family life, so if you’d like more information, sign up for this free course!

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  • Reply Carley February 12, 2018 at 4:50 am

    I love the idea of stating audio books for my almost 4 year old daughter during her quiet time. We do little to no tablet time— primarily because if she’s given the iPad with some educational games or YouTube kids for videos she switches back and forth to different things so much I don’t feel like it’s productive. Do you mostly use the CD player for your daughters? If you use another device- Which one and how do you monitor that they are listening instead of playing games, etc?

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw February 12, 2018 at 10:55 am

      They do have CD players and listen to those usually at night, but I’d say they use the tablets just as often – we have an iPad, a Nook, and a Fire for kids. They know they aren’t allowed to use it for things other than audiobooks (and if they do, they lose it for a week – both of my older girls have had that consequence once and then never done it again). It takes them a few times to figure out how to use Overdrive/Libby, but now they are pros.

  • Reply Dani February 12, 2018 at 6:57 am

    I would love a tutorial on Audible. I’ve always been a little bit confused by what you actually get for $15 a month—and the fact that you can buy books without a subscription is something I didn’t know!

    I’d also love to know what you think about e-books and the best way to read them (especially on a phone). I find myself reaching for my phone in those downtime/boredom moments and I wish I had a book to jump to instead of the news or my email or whatever.

  • Reply Jenna February 12, 2018 at 7:08 am

    Have you done a post on specific audio books for kids. I’m just now introducing audiobooks for my 3.5 and 5 yo as we have a 30 minute commute in the morning and 30 min in the afternoon and the only audiobooks I’ve tried are like 5 minutes.

  • Reply Brianna February 12, 2018 at 9:06 am

    There is a new to me service called Scribd that allows you unlimited books, audiobooks, and magazines for $8.99/month. I don’t know what the selection is like because I don’t read fast enough to justify it, but it could be another good option.

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw February 12, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Oh, I’ll check it out! Thank you!

      • Reply Abby March 12, 2018 at 8:44 am

        I just subscribed to this service and have been loving it! Cheaper than Audible, I don’t have to worry about due dates, and so far they have had every book I have looked for!

  • Reply Chrissie February 12, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Where do you find sales for audiobooks with Amazon/Audible? I always see daily ebook deals, but don’t think I’ve ever noticed audiobooks for $2 or $3. I’d definitely be interested in that, though!

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw February 12, 2018 at 10:02 am

      They have big sales a few times a year and I keep an eye out for when they go on sale – I usually try to share on Facebook or InstaStories!

  • Reply Rhonda February 12, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    How fast can the Libby app go? I like to listen to books at 2.5x or 3x speed, but the Overdrive app only goes up to 2x. Just wondering if I can go faster with Libby! Thanks!

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw February 12, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      Just up to double-speed, unfortunately. Audible is awesome because it goes to 3x, but it’s hard to find other ones that do!

      • Reply Jenna February 14, 2018 at 6:48 pm

        I’ve actually just realized that Libby can do 3x the speed! Instead of tapping the timer over and over you hold it and drag down the screen and you can go all the way up to 3x. I’m pretty excited about it!

  • Reply Kristie February 12, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    My kids love overdrive. They were able to sign up using their school accounts. My kids love it too! My kids school also offers something called MyOn, but I think the school has to sign up for it. It has books the kids can download and most books can be read to the kids. Those are my kids two favorite resources.

  • Reply shannon February 12, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Your blog (and this post in particular) are getting so much love over at CupofJo today!! 🙂

  • Reply Allison | My Novel Life February 14, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    I love these resources for audiobooks. Thanks for the tips. I love Audible, but it’s so pricey. My library doesn’t use Overdrive or Libby. They use RBDigital which they claim is better, but the app is a little slow.

  • Reply Mikayla February 15, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    To the cons for hoopla, I would add poor audio quality, especially once you start turning up the speed—on the rare occasion that I listen to something on hoopla, I have to listen at regular speed because I can’t stand the tinny quality of the audio at higher speeds.

    I’m curious if you’ve heard of Playster. It’s a subscription service that’s more like Netflix than audible—you don’t keep anything if you cancel the subscription. But they do more than just audiobooks—ebooks, music, movies, and games. If you do try it I’d be interested to know your thoughts about their selection for ebooks and audiobooks.

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