If you’re an audiobook fan, you probably like to listen to your favorite books in many places: at home, in the car, in the gym, or when you’re out walking or running. You can use your iOS devices for this, and you can use a number of apps, depending on where you get your audiobooks. Here’s an overview of apps for listening to audiobooks on iOS.
You can get audiobooks from a number of sources. You can buy and download books from Audible.com, or from Apple’s iBooks Store, or you can rip your own audiobook CDs. You can also buy some audiobooks on MP3 CDs; these CDs contain books already converted to MP3 files, which you can add to your iTunes library without ripping.
Where you buy the files affects how you can play them back. If you rip your own audiobook CDs, your files won’t have DRM, but if you buy audiobooks from Apple or Audible they will. Because of this DRM, you can’t play audiobooks in just any app.
Apple’s iBooks app
Let’s start by looking at Apple’s tools for playing audiobooks on iOS devices. When Apple released iOS 8.4, in April, the company moved audiobook playback and management from the Music app to the iBooks app. In some ways, this makes sense; both ebooks and audiobooks are a kind of book. However, audiobooks are audio; so playing them in the Music app also makes sense.
Audiobooks you sync from iTunes to your iOS device get shunted into the iBooks app, where you can play them back as you used to in the Music app. If you don’t see them in iBooks, tap the category menu at the top of the window and choose Audiobooks.
When you play back audiobooks in iBooks, you can adjust the speed (tap the Speed button at the bottom left), skip ahead or back 15 seconds, and set a sleep timer. You can also access book chapters. Tap the chapters button at the top right of the window, and you’ll see a list of chapters. Unfortunately, all you see, even if the book has named chapters, are names like Track 1, Track 2, etc.
There are a number of pros and cons to buying audiobooks from the iBooks Store. I hesitate to recommend that you don’t buy audiobooks from Apple, but there’s one serious limit to purchasing audiobooks this way. Unlike just about every other type of digital content you purchase from Apple, you cannot re-download audiobooks, and you cannot keep a library of your books in the cloud. With Audible however, you can always re-download your books, and their app gives you access to everything you’ve ever bought.
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