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Why I use Libro.fm over Audible for audiobooks in 2024

Key Takeaways

  • I believe Libro.fm offers a better user experience than Audible, with diverse titles and thoughtful recommendations.
  • Libro.fm’s dedication to supporting local businesses and DRM-free audiobooks also makes it a superior choice.
  • Despite some Audible titles being exclusive, Libro.fm’s increased availability and accessibility make it my go-to app for audiobook purchases.



Audible and I were two peas in an (Air)pod for years before I found another service that meets my needs as a voracious audiobook consumer. I paused, canceled, and re-upped my membership more times than I can count, but I always came back when a friend or colleague recommended a new read.

I was an academic librarian for eight years before transitioning over to be Pocket-lint’s copy editor, so I’ve followed authors, publishers, and bookstores claiming that both Amazon and Audible adversely affect their markets and services. When a former colleague recommended Libro.fm last year, I jumped on the alternative.

For a service to successfully replace one of the most convenient and fun innovations in modern reading, it has to actually improve the experience, and I think Libro.fm does just that.


I’ve used Libro.fm throughout the past year and feel confident recommending it to audiobook listeners. No good librarian can cover audiobooks without mentioning that I’m also an avid Libby app user through my local libraries, but there are cases I’d rather own than loan my favorite books, and Libro.fm is my favorite platform for this purpose. With one small exception, I found Libro.fm superior to the Audible experience.

For a service to successfully replace one of the most convenient and fun innovations in modern reading, it has to actually improve the experience. I think Libro.fm does — by offering comparable pricing and collection size to Audible, as well as a better user-experience. Libro.fm is an easy choice, and it ensures my hard-earned money can support my local independent bookstores rather than Bezos’s next space tour.

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1 You can support local businesses with Libro.fm

A percentage goes to an independent bookstore of your choice

Money to local bookstores with purchases


I’d never say Amazon or Audible users are wrong to support a large corporation. I can’t deny I still use Audible here and there, and I prefer getting my pet’s supplies delivered to my rural address rather than shlepping a 20lb bag of cat food from the grocery store.

It’s a privilege to be able to pick and choose where your money goes in a world that costs more every year and offers less local selection, but one I try to be mindful of where I can, especially with bookstores.

With Libro.fm, I can support local businesses, particularly independent bookstores, at a comparable cost to what I would be paying for on Audible ($14.95). With that in mind, I was a convert the moment I saw I could have a portion of my monthly $14.99 membership sent to an independent bookstore of my choice. I found my favorite bookstore in my hometown of 4,800 people is a participating store. My eyes became hearts, I paused my Audible membership, and I forked over my credit card to Libro.fm.


2 Audible’s audiobook licensing is a DRM mess

Audible does not guarantee ownership of purchased media

Always DRM free unlike Audible memberships

Digital rights management (DRM) is a hot topic in the media distribution world. DRM-free, in the case of audiobooks, means there is not a license on the media, limiting you from owning the audio file. All audiobooks on Libro.fm are DRM-free. Audible audiobooks are not guaranteed DRM-free, so when you purchase the title, you purchase the title to stream it on Audible or download to your device for offline listening, but you do not necessarily own the media files.


Not every audiobook listener cares about owning the media files of their purchases. For example, I don’t mind this when I use Libby, the free audiobook loaning service through my local library, but the option is an important one when I’m spending money on audiobooks. Similar to the distinction between owning the DVD and the digital copy versus viewing on a streaming service for TV and film.

When you own an audiobook file, you can download and then upload it onto other devices, such as a children’s audiobook player like the popular Toniebox or Yoto. You can then use the platform’s Creative Tonies or Make Your Own Card from Yoto to expand your child’s audiobook collection.

While there are many guides and solutions around stripping DRM from Audible titles, the surrounding legality is messy, especially if you intend to share it out widely. There are third-party solutions to aid in turning your Audible collection into a DRM-free collection, but having Libro.fm as an all-in-one app and store option that doesn’t limit access, makes it the superior choice for me.

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3 Recommendations are better on Libro.fm

Diverse, timely suggestions crafted by real humans, not bots

Playlist specialization and ease of access

Onto Libro.fm’s user-experience, it could not be more efficient and enjoyable to browse for new reads and sort through recommendations. The lists are all chosen by real human beings, not automatically sorted and published based on algorithms. The independent bookstore partners can create their own collections for browsing too, which I find so cool and community oriented.

Libro.fm prioritizes collections that readers like me actually want to see, from age range recommendations, award winners, and niche topics — my personal favorite, “Does it have a dragon in it?” Bookstagram and BookTok users will also find plenty of timely recommendations with relevant playlists updated frequently with trending materials.


Prioritizes collections that readers actually want to see, from age range recommendations, award winners, and niche topics — like my personal favorite, “Does it have a dragon in it?” Bookstagram and BookTok users will also find plenty of timely recommendations.

I haven’t used Audible as an exploratory platform in years, as it’s too impersonal and advertisement heavy, while on Libro.fm I actually find new and interesting reads to queue up within minutes of opening the app. The collections, or as Libro.fm dubs them: Playlists, are diverse in content, genre, and writers, bringing me more suggestions I’d actually like to read rather than just top bestsellers.

4 Libro.fm’s UI is better, from controls to ads

The Audible app homepage is cluttered with promotions and deals

Chapter interactions and interface


I love the user experience on Libro.fm. When you first open the app, the first section you see is recommendations, then Playlists — no deals, advertisements, and membership pushes. In our modern connected world, our eyes are constantly spammed by ads, even when paying for a service.

I greatly appreciate Libro.fm’s dedication to listeners’ time and experience on its platform. Speaking of membership pushes, Libro.fm has a great referral program. If you get someone to sign up with your link, you can get a free credit to reward your word-of-mouth marketing.

The app listening interface is more intuitive for me compared to Audible. Just like some folks find Android phones more user-friendly and helpful than iPhones, it all depends on your own learning style. I prefer the chapter view feature and app controls in Libro.fm. I have used Audible on and off for 10 years and still struggle to find the table of contents to skip around a book in some app views. The icon and placement do not work for how my brain is wired. With Libro.fm, I found all the functions and performed the tasks I hoped for on the first try.


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5 Libro.fm supports Freedom to Read Statement

Works to offer pulled books at discount or free

Recommendations chosen by people not bots

Online booksellers — Amazon included — libraries, and schools celebrate Banned Books week yearly in September/October. They’ll share promotional discounts on famously banned books and highlight the Freedom to Read Statement. These are all great starts to encourage freedom of thought and the fight against censorship, but genuine investment tends to fall flat in favor of marketing ploys for many companies. I haven’t experienced that as much with Libro.fm, which continuously highlights challenged books throughout the year and went a step further during some major censorship controversies in 2023.


Last year saw disruptions in Florida’s high schools due to its ban on teaching Critical Race Theory and information about the LGBTQIA community. The College Board, which aids in accrediting Advanced Placement (AP) college credits taken in high school, stated if schools in Florida planned to offer AP Psychology without covering anything surrounding LGBTQIA content and communities, it would not fulfill the AP standards and would not count for college credit.

The pilot AP African American Studies course first came under fire when the Florida Department of Education believed the course content would violate its governor’s Stop WOKE Act. Further response then came from academics and scholars within the African American Studies field after the College Board seemed to remove critical course content from its proposed framework after Florida’s criticism. This framework went through further changes in Dec. 2023.

Seeing Libro.fm’s response showed an honest attempt to walk the walk instead of the usual lip-service with regard to The Freedom to Read.


At the time of these announcements, I was still a college librarian, and it was an incredibly hot topic for months, and remains one when we address library and educational institutions’ missions.

When the College Board first edited the framework, seemingly leaving out critical content, Libro.fm quickly created collections based on content banned in Florida surrounding race and education. Libro.fm offered three foundational texts for free and heavily discounted the others. In practice, this was to expand access for parents and students who had opted into AP courses to learn that content, but felt they no longer had the option to through their public schools. Seeing Libro.fm’s response showed an honest attempt to walk the walk instead of the usual lip-service with regard to The Freedom to Read.

6 Libro.fm’s titles available rival Audible

Increased title availability last year to over 450,000 books


Catalog collection to rival Audible

Libro.fm

Throughout 2023, Libro.fm added more titles and bookstores to its collection, getting up to a more-even level to Audible. While Audible holds over 500,000 titles, Libro.fm contains over 450,000 titles. Meaning, yes, there is still better availability on Audible, but I’m really pleased to see the increased options. My new favorite audiobook format, dramatized adaptations, are included in Libro.fm too — about 1,700 results compared to Audible’s 2,300 results.

It’s not quite up there with Audible yet, but I feel comfortable using Libro.fm as my main app for purchasing audiobooks now.


I have rarely searched for a book and not found it so far in 2024, which wasn’t the case when I first started using the app in early 2023. I sampled titles a lot but ended up heading back to Libby and Audible often, looking for a different title in my early months trialing the app. The title increase is an impressive improvement to the user-experience in just over a year. It’s not quite up there with Audible yet, but I now feel comfortable using Libro.fm as my main app for purchasing audiobooks in 2024.

7 I’m still holding on for Audible Exclusives

My one exception and why I keep both apps

Audible exclusives


With my role at Pocket-lint, I get to test new features on Audible, but it’s necessary for me to have an account to do so. While I enjoy trying some of the new and latest features in Audible, I keep a personal account because a few of my favorite series are only available through Audible Exclusives. Additionally, I have almost 80 titles from my years of only using Audible that I can’t easily download and take with me because they are not DRM-free.

While Audible gets a W for bringing me the newest Sarah J Maas book, it is counter-intuitive to how many information professionals view access rights. Even when other platforms, bookstores, or libraries would like to purchase a copy of the production for their collection, it is not possible due to Audible using exclusive production and distribution.

This creates information access barriers and forces readers to access a particular format from only one seller: Audible. When one seller holds 63% of the audiobook market share, it can also get away with some practices that don’t support authors’ creative time and work.


If you’re looking for some of the bestsellers and don’t mind abridged versions and waiting a bit, the dramatized adaptation publisher GraphicAudio offers some alternate productions you can access on other audiobook players like Libro.fm, but they usually take some time after the initial release date.

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