Audiobooks are great for commutes, long trips, and dull tasks. Here are a number of places you can download Audiobooks legally, and for free. And they’re not all public domain stuff.
Many of the audiobook sites you can find on the internet let you download classic books in the public domain for free, but some sites have better quality books than others. We’ve rounded up some of the best of those sites, plus some ways you can get other kinds of audiobooks for free, too.
Project Gutenberg & LibriVox
Project Gutenberg is a volunteer-run repository, started in 1971, that works to digitize and archive cultural work to encourage the distribution of eBooks. But they’re not just about eBooks. Project Gutenberg also has an extensive library of human-read and computer-generated (read by a computerized voice) audio books from the public domain.
LibriVox.org is another volunteer-run initiative that aims to release public domain audiobooks. Volunteers read chapters of books, and then LibriVox releases that audio back into the public domain for anyone to download.
The two services work together, with most audiobooks available on Project Gutenberg coming from the LibriVox site. Each site does have some books the other doesn’t have, so it’s worth checking them both out. Both sites let you listen to books right on the website, subscribe by iTunes, or download the book to your device in various formats.
Since they use books no longer under copyright, most of the books on the sites were written before 1923. So keep that in mind when searching for something to listen to. And if you enjoy the service and like what they are doing, it’s easy to volunteer if you have spare time to read a chapter or two and be part of history.
Spotify now has a playlist of audiobooks added to its repertoire. Again, most of them are classic works in the public domain. They don’t have near as many titles as sites like Project Gutenberg and LibriVox, but if you’re already a Spotify user, access the books is super easy. Just hit up the playlist.
You can listen to audiobooks on Spotify with a free account, but you will have to listen to adds at the beginning of each title. If you subscribe to a premium account, you can listen without ads.
NewFixtion is in a category all to itself. It doesn’t have many titles, but what it does have are original stories delivered in daily episodes. Each episode is voiced by trained actors, which gives it a more rounded feeling. It’s really more like listening to an old-time radio drama than simply having a book read to you.
You can’t download titles from NewFixtion, though. You have to listed to them through your desktop or mobile browser.
DigitalBook, formerly Librophile, lets you search through a database of public domain books from places like Librivox, Gutenberg, Open Library, and also includes books from Amazon (and Audible). Although not all books are free, a large number of them are, and they boast a catalog of over 100,000 free audiobooks and eBooks.
If you sign up for a free membership, you can save books on a personal bookshelf to read later without having to download.
Internet Archive is a non-profit archive of internet sites and other cultural artifacts, made available to users in digital form. It’s one of the larger and more well-known sites out there for access pretty much anything in the public domain. Providing free access to an archive of over 4 million audio recordings, 11 million books and texts, and 3 million videos.
Learn Out Loud
LearnOutLoud is home to thousands of free audiobooks ranging from fiction to educational. They offer content through their website and a couple other sites already mentioned in this post.
In addition to audiobooks, LearnOutLoud gives access to some of the best audio and video learning content on the web, including courses, documentaries, lectures, interviews, and speeches. It’s easy to lose track of time while scrolling through the amount of content they have to offer.
Don’t Forget Your Public Library
No longer do you need to leave the house in order to borrow a book from the library. Now, with the help of a couple sites and apps, you can access thousands of audiobooks from your mobile device. All you need is a valid library card.
- OverDrive is the collection of more than 30,000 libraries across the world. It’s a site that allows you online access to the catalog of a library near you, where all you need to ‘rent’ a book is a valid library card number. The use of LibbyApp, the mobile and tablet version of OverDrive, lets you check out audiobooks straight to your handheld device. It’s available for iOS, Android, and Windows.
- RBDigital offers an extensive collection of audiobooks, magazines, and eBooks, with the largest independent collection of unabridges audiobooks.
- YourCloudLibrary is an application for Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android that offers access to millions of ebooks and audio to download.
- HooplaDigital also lets you check out audiobooks, ebooks, music, movies, and TV shows from local libraries straight to your computer, tablet, or phone.
What apps and services you use will just depend on what your library’s chosen to go with.
If You’re an Amazon Prime Subscriber, You Can Get Free Audiobooks There, Too
If you’re already an Amazon Prime subscriber, you have access to their Audible Channels content at no extra charge. You can stream from a rotating group of over 50 audiobooks in the Channels tab of your Audible app. Prime members have unlimited access to audio series and select audiobooks for streaming only.
Update: This Prime benefit is no longer available.
If you can’t find what you need on any of those websites and you aren’t an Amazon Prime subscriber, there are a couple sites that offer a free trial to get an idea of the type of service they offer. Typically these trials are more than enough to listen to a few books.
- BookBeat offers unlimited listening to thousands of audiobooks, new and old. They offer a free 2 week trial and after the period ends it costs a flat rate of £12.90/month ($17 US).
- Kobo is home to 5 million ebooks and audiobooks with an ever-growing catalog. Kobo might be one of the biggest competitors battling Amazon’s Kindle line. Free 30-day trial, cancel anytime. $12.99/month for an audiobook subscription after that point.
- Audible is probably one of the largest suppliers of new audiobooks on the web and they offer a free 30-day trial, once the trial has ended a membership of $14.95/month is required to access unlimited audiobooks.
Have a great source for free (legal) audiobooks we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments!
Image source: Kaboompics, Pexel
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