Audible vs Libby – Which Is Better?

Nothing is more satisfying than settling down on the couch in the evening or on the weekend with a cup of coffee and an exciting book on your phone or iPad.

However, sometimes the entire experience gets spoiled if you can’t read past two pages due to distractions or eye strain.

This is where audiobooks can help. The narrated version of a physical book makes reading intriguing when commuting, cooking, or resting at home.

Two of the most popular platforms for accessing audiobooks are Audible and Libby. But since you need one, and the best, it’s important to know what each of these tools offers.

This post has it all. Today, I’ll compare the two – Audible and Libby.

Stay tuned.

What is Audible?

Audible is Amazon’s audiobook service providing the largest collection of titles, from classics and original podcasts to new releases.

You can stream or download your selected titles with an Audible membership.

Narrators read the books aloud. Sometimes, the authors, renowned artists, or an audio cast does the reading.

How Does It Work?

If you want a one-off audiobook, download the app and purchase a title from the store. The book will be saved to your account in the Audio Library. You’ll see it there regardless of the device you use to log in.

You can download or stream the audiobook to your device for offline access. Please note some titles take up a lot of space on your device.

You can opt for an Audible subscription to access multiple titles. You’ll receive one credit each month to spend on a title you want, plus access to Audible Originals with thousands of titles.

Audible allows you to return a book you aren’t enjoying or downloaded by mistake. You can use the credit on another title.

What is Libby?

Libby is a free app that connects users with a local library’s digital content. You need a library card to access a particular library’s audiobooks and ebooks.

Owned by OverDrive, this app provides an updated digital portal with tools to enhance a personalized reading experience.

You can use Libby to borrow digital audiobooks, ebooks, and magazines from your library.

How Does It Work?

Once you have a library card, download Libby to your device. Follow the prompts to select your library and sign in using the library card.

Next, browse the library catalog to borrow your preferred title. Remember, the titles available for selection will vary depending on the library, as each library decides what titles and formats should appear in Libby.

Borrowed titles will appear on your shelf and download automatically when connected to the internet. You can read them when offline.

Go to the shelf and click Loans at the screen’s top. When here, you can:

  • Click Read With to select where to read the book (Libby or Kindle).
  • Click Open in Libby, Open Audiobook, or Open Magazine to start listening or reading on the app.
  • Click Manage Loan for options like Return or Renew.

Now, let’s discuss Audible vs Libby in light of their features.

Ease of Use

Audible

After installing and logging in, browsing is straightforward. The top menu has an option labeled “Browse” with a down arrow in front of it.

Hovering a cursor around this option displays a dropdown menu showing categories you can click on. Audible’s categories are extensive; subjects range from Science & Technology and Children’s Audiobooks to History and Romance.

After deciding on the title to purchase and adding it to the cart, Audible provides two options. You can use the already paid-for credit to purchase the title or pay with cash.

You can filter titles by access, new releases, language, duration, abridgment, format, and podcast type.

Libby

The Libby app has a simple and intuitive interface that makes navigation a breeze. Once you have the library card linked, you will be taken to the library’s home page. This page has five icons at the bottom.

The search icon in the form of a magnifying glass lets you search for items by title, keywords, author, and title. The library section, represented by a building icon, reveals the books your library chooses to display. It can show books grouped by categories and popular searches.

A Libby icon at the center takes you to your settings menu. This option shows messages and tips from Libby, your library card and account, and the help and support area. Each of these options appears in a carousel.

Next is the bookshelf that takes you to your holds and checked-out items. The timeline represented by the clock icon shows you what things have happened in your account.

If you are reading or listening to a book within the app, it appears at the bottom right.

Verdict

Both apps are easy to use. You can easily find titles and listen to them or read them.

Also Read: Libby vs Hoopla

Content Variety

Audible

Audible has audiobook categories for the entire family. Children can benefit from Children’s Audiobooks, and adults can browse endless titles from diverse categories.

Examples of available categories include Arts & Entertainment. Comedy & Humor, Business & Careers, Health & Wellness, Money & Finance, Religion & Spirituality, Home & Garden, Computers & Technology, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Erotica, Education & Learning, and many more.

You can check the entire list of 24 categories here. Each category has subcategories with plenty of titles.

Libby

You can find both audiobooks and ebooks on Libby. The titles are diverse, from classics to the latest releases. The app hosts children’s content, too, making it ideal for accessing free children’s books.

Libby hosts titles in various genres, such as fiction, classics, cookbooks, new adult, non-fiction, magazines, travel guides, children’s books, young adults, biographies, and more.

Please note that the titles on Libby depend on what your local library provides. The local library may have many physical books at their physical library, but only fewer digital copies on Libby.

Verdict

Audible wins. Audible has more audiobook categories and titles than Libby because the latter’s collection depends on what each local library has. So, even though Libby has audiobooks and ebooks, the number of copies is finite.

Audiobook Access Method

Audible

Audible operates under a purchasing model; you need a paid subscription. You can’t borrow audiobooks and return them.

Here’s how it works:

When you subscribe to Audible, you don’t necessarily gain unlimited access to every title. You only access permitted titles in your subscription plan (more on this later) and must use credits to acquire other titles.

The best part is you can keep credits in your library for any duration if you don’t use them. What if you download a book, aren’t excited about the narrator’s story, or accidentally click the wrong title?

No worries! Audible lets you return audiobooks and get your credits back. Returning is easy. Log into your Audible account through the browser, select your name, and, on the drop-down menu, tap “Account Details.”

Next, go to the left-hand side menu and tap “Purchase History.” You will see various purchased titles with details like when and how you purchased them, by money or credit, and the amount paid. Locate the title you want to return and tap “Return Order” on the right.

Voila! You’ve got your credit back; use it to get another title.

Also Read: Best Goodreads Alternatives

Libby

Libby operates under the borrowing or ‘access without ownership’ model. When searching or browsing the catalog, click on the cover image of any title for more details. If that title is available, click “Borrow.”

You’ll see a confirmation screen, and you can select the loan duration adjacent to “Borrowing for…” and change it if you wish.

Tap the shelf icon to see all your loans. On the Libby mobile app, titles often download automatically when your device is connected to WiFi, allowing you to read them when offline.

You may renew titles a few days before their due date. However, titles will be returned automatically on the due date.

Your library decides on the number of loans and holds you may have at a time. Tap Menu and Manage Cards to view your card loan and hold limits.

I like Libby because it allows me to change the loan limit for a title. After clicking on borrow, I simply click on the loan period from the confirmation screen and choose a new loan period for my title.

Verdict

Each app uses a different model to avail content to users. Libby epitomizes the borrowing model perfectly whereas Audible requires users to pay monthly subscriptions to own or access content.

Device Compatibility

Audible

You can play your favorite audiobook on your PC, iPad, iPhone, or Android tablets and phones. Download your preferred titles and store them on a device. Audible will play the book using the device’s sound.

The procedure for using Audible on your Windows PC is different. First, you need to download the Amazon App from the Microsoft Store.

After installing Amazon on your computer, you should log into your Amazon account, download and install Audible. Here’s the step-by-step procedure.

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Libby

Libby works with almost all devices. You can use it directly in your computer’s browser or download it to your smartphone or tablet.

Regarding mobile devices, Libby works with devices running on iOS 10+, Android 5.0, and Fire OS 5+. If your computer runs on Windows, macOS, or Chromebook, you can go to libbyapp.com and use the app in your browser. Just be sure to use the latest browser version.

Verdict

It’s a tie. Both apps work with iPhones, iPads, Android tablets and phones, and PCs.

Syncing with Kindle

Audible

Audible works with Kindle seamlessly, too. The Kindle app lets you read and listen to books simultaneously. But before you start, ensure the Amazon Kindle book you own matches the audiobook on Audible.

How do you know the two titles match? Books with a matching audiobook show a headphones icon on the book’s upper right in the Kindle app.

To listen to the book’s narration, open the book on Kindle, and tap on your screen to show the tray at the screen’s bottom that says “Audible Narration.”

Click on this section to download the audio version. If downloaded from Audible, click play to start reading and listening simultaneously.

The audiobook will start playing as the app highlights the words on the screen, helping you read along as you listen. Do you want to pause the narration and read quietly when on the bus, for example? Hit the pause button to pause the audio.

It gets better: You can switch between reading and listening with Amazon’s Whispersync for voice functionality. This feature lets you switch from one device to another without losing pace.

For example, you can start reading a title on an iPad and switch to listening on your iPhone.

Check this page for a list of Kindle devices compatible with Audible.

Libby

If you have a card from a U.S. library, it’s possible to send books borrowed on Libby to Kindle. How do you achieve that?

  • Go to the shelf and click loans.
  • Select the title you’d like to send to Kindle and click Read With…
  • Now, select Kindle.
  • Sign into your Amazon account if you haven’t already.
  • Check the “Deliver To” drop-down to confirm the device and select Get Library Book.

After sending a title to Kindle, you’ll see a default option that says “Read with Kindle.”

You can go back to reading with Libby by tapping Manage Loan, then Read With, and choose Libby.

If you want to set Kindle as the default reading preference, tap Menu followed by Settings, and then Read Books With… Lastly, select Kindle.

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Verdict

Both sync with Kindle seamlessly, but this feature only works on Libby if your library is in the United States. Therefore, most Libby users from other locations may miss out on this feature. Audible wins here.

Additional Features

Audible

Audible is primarily an app for audiobooks in different genres. However, subscribing gives you access to other powerful features, including:

  • Audible Originals: These titles are exclusive to Audible and range from lectures and theater productions to romance novels.
  • Sleep tracks: Audible features guided meditations, sound tapes, and stories that help you fall asleep quicker and wake up refreshed.
  • Podcasts: The app’s podcasts have content for all maturity levels. The topics range from laugh-out-loud comedy to history and business management.
  • Audible Latino: These are audiobooks featuring Latino culture.

Libby

Libby has a section for extras where some libraries provide additional entertainment or learning material.

To determine if your library offers extras, tap Library and scroll to see “Extras.” To see what’s inside Extras, click a provider and hit Get.

You borrow access for a specific duration for all of Libby’s extra content. However, some extras include third-party apps like Kanopy that you must install and use.

Be ready to encounter apps you can sync with or cast to your smart TV to watch resourceful videos.

Verdict

Audible wins because its extras come with the subscription. Libby’s extras depend on whether your library has them.

Subscription

Audible

Audible offers two plans: Audible Plus and Audible Premium Plus. With Audible Plus, you pay $7.95 monthly and listen to any title, including originals, sleep tracks, audiobooks, podcasts, and meditation programs. Start with a 30-day free trial.

With Audible Plus, you can stream titles instantly or save them to the library so you can download and listen when offline. You can also keep track of your favorite podcasts.

On the other hand, the Audible Premium Plus costs $14.95 per month and lets you enjoy everything in Audible Plus in addition to one title per month from an additional selection of new releases and best sellers. This plan comes with a 30-day free trial, as well.

This plan lets you keep monthly credits for up to one year. When browsing the library, you will see titles labeled ‘1 credit’ so you know where to use the credits.

Are you interested in more credits? Audible offers more plans for that, which cost more. Check out the details here.

More importantly, an Audible membership isn’t part of your Amazon Prime membership. However, if you’re a Prime member, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial on Audible Premium Plus and enjoy two credits instead of one.

Libby

Libby is forever free. You can download and install it without worrying about subscription costs. There are no late fees or in-app purchases, as well.

To use Libby, you only need a valid card from a local library. If you don’t have a library card, contact your local library or check their website to find out how to get one.

Verdict

Libby carries the day since it’s completely free to use.

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Audible vs Libby: Pros and Cons

Audible

Pros

  • Plenty of titles
  • Guaranteed extra resources on premium plans
  • 30-day free trial
  • Accessible across several devices
  • You can keep credits and use them later
  • You can return a title you don’t like and pick another for the same credit
  • You can send titles to friends and family

Cons

  • To get more credits, you need to pay more
  • Audible membership isn’t part of Prime membership

Libby

Pros

  • 100% free. You only need a library card
  • You can change a book’s playback speed
  • You can add bookmarks and sync across devices
  • You can borrow multiple audiobooks at once
  • You can request extensions on borrowed books

Cons

  • Libby doesn’t have exclusive collections
  • The titles may be fewer depending on what the local library has
  • Extras are limited to what libraries provide

Libby vs Audible: Similarities and Differences

Similarities

  • Both have intuitive user interfaces
  • Both sync with Kindle
  • Both are compatible with PCs, Android, and iOS devices
  • Both have Android and iOS apps
  • You can take an audiobook and return it in both
  • You can stream or download titles in both

Differences

  • Audible has originals (exclusive content), but Libby doesn’t. Instead, it displays digital content from local libraries.
  • Libby is entirely free, but Audible is paid
  • Audible has more categories and titles than Libby, whose titles depend on the library’s content
  • Audible has way more extra resources than Libby
  • Audible uses a credit model, but Libby doesn’t
  • Libby has a more elaborate ‘borrow and return’ policy than Audible

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Audible vs Libby: Which is Better?

The choice of your audiobook app depends on your needs.

Libby would do if you’re in college and need to access digital content from your library for free. But if you need something for the kids or fiction stories to stimulate your mind, check out Audible.

Personally, I would choose Audible because of its originals, plenty of categories and titles to select from, the credit model that lets you enjoy audiobooks outside what you’ve subscribed to, user-friendliness, and useful additional features.

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.