Audiobooks HQ for iOS: 5,000+ audiobooks for under $2

These are public-domain books read mostly by amateurs, but that's still an awful lot of good listening for just 2 bucks.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
Audiobooks HQ for iOS lets you download over 5,000 public-domain spoken-word books, including lots of classic works.
Audiobooks HQ for iOS lets you download over 5,000 public-domain spoken-word books, including lots of classic works. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

I love audiobooks. Nothing makes a car ride faster or more pleasant than a good spoken-word book piping through the speakers.

That's why I've routinely championed smartphone-powered services like Audible, Audiobooks.com, Simply Audiobooks, and Tales2Go.

Now there's another app worth adding to your audiobook arsenal: Audiobooks HQ, which gives you access to more than 5,000 public-domain titles -- all for a measly $1.99.

The app connects you with two catalogs: the Globe Radio Repertory and Librivox. The former contains just four works (including "Don Quixote" and "Madame Bovary"), while the latter gives you the real meat of the app.

That's where you'll find books like "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," "The Count of Monte Cristo," "Great Expectations," and "Gulliver's Travels." Again, these are all public-domain works, so there's likely to be a lot of material you've never heard of or have no interest in hearing.

Fortunately, you can search the catalog or, even better, browse by any number of filters, including Popular, Categories, Recent Additions, and Inkstone Recommends. This last is in answer to developer Inkstone Mobile's refreshingly honest declaration that "not all the audiobooks in this collection are great. They are narrated by volunteers, so the quality varies. Some are incredible, as good as any professional recording, but others are frankly amateurish. So we have made it easy to find the great and special books in the catalog through the curated 'Inkstone Recommends' section."

That curation is one small point in favor of Audiobooks HQ over apps like Audiobooks - 2,947 for free, which pull from the same Librivox library but don't recommend any good stuff.

Also, Audiobooks HQ is a fine audio player, with features like 30-second skip (forward and backward), bookmarks, a sleep timer, and slider-adjustable playback speed.

So, yeah, for $2, this is kind of a no-brainer in my book, especially for fans of classic literature. That said, if you've found a freebie equivalent you think is just as good, by all means tell me about it in the comments.