Audiobooks are an incredibly convenient format for those who enjoy reading but struggle to make time for it in their everyday lives. They’re portable. You can listen to them on the way to work, while you’re exercising, or even when you’re doing chores around the house.
And along with their ease of use, quite a few audiobooks can be accessed for free, if you know where to look. That’s where we come in. In the guide below, we’ll go over some of the best options around for downloading audiobooks for free. So you can get all of the convenience of listening to an audiobook without spending a dime. Audible isn’t the only game in town, so let’s take a look at some of your free options.
Open Culture is one of the better gateway websites for educational and cultural media. The site gathers content from around the web to present an admirable audiobook collection — primarily classics — you can stream or download.
The site organizes audiobooks by genre (fiction and literature, nonfiction, and poetry) and alphabetically listed by the author’s last name.
Lit2Go offers one of the finer sources for free audiobooks. The throwback site, “a part of the Educational Technology Clearinghouse” and run by The Florida Center for Instructional Technology (University of South Florida), contains a comprehensive collection of downloadable short stories, books, and poems. The site delivers most audiobooks as a single MP3 or as short, segmented passages of specific chapters.
The homepage search option is a nice touch, as is the black-and-white artwork accompanying each title and book collection. You can browse by author, title, genre, collection, and reading level (grades K through 12).
Formerly known as Podiobooks, Scribl showcases some of the best, off-the-beaten-path audiobooks found on the internet, many of which are recent publications. The site distributes content that mostly requires payment, but its collection does include free content among its e-books, audio e-books, and podcasts. Podcast versions of books are usually free while e-books and audiobooks are only sometimes free.
Formally known as Books Should Be Free, Loyal Books is a family-friendly website catering to the classic literature devotee. The site offers a nice collection of public-domain novels and short stories in multiple languages. They’re available in MP3, as a podcast, iPod/iPhone M4b, and as an RSS feed. You can also stream book chapters.
The site lists titles by genre, language, and popularity. You can search for specific books using the integrated Google search bar along the top. Plus, most books offer ratings and reviews from fellow listeners, thus giving you a slightly better idea of what to expect before you click play.
There’s hardly ever enough time for bedtime stories — no matter how amazing you are as a parent. Thankfully, Storynory provides a solution for those who simply have a hard time reading to their kids. It offers a collection of original and classic fairy tales along with short novels specifically tailored for children.
The site currently offers a few hundred audiobooks, a number that steadily grows as Storynory routinely publishes at least one new story each week. Storynory also touts some of the most exuberant narrators around.
Given that each story utilizes an HTML 5 player for playback, you can listen on nearly any smartphone, tablet, or browser.
OverDrive currently does not allow users to purchase audiobooks directly from the platform. Instead, this app pairs with your local library or school and shares audiobooks with users, like you, for free. The app functions similarly to a library— the same rules apply as though you were borrowing a book straight from your library; it’s just all done virtually. The book you’re borrowing online is still free for you to read, but you’ll only have access to it for a brief time. You will have to have a valid library card or a school ID to use this digital service. Unfortunately, you’re going to be limited to the catalog available in your library or school’s digital collection.
Keeping that in mind, the availability of titles will depend on your specific institution. To borrow an OverDrive audiobook, you can simply check it out via an electronic checkout. If it’s not available right now, you can put it on hold and wait for your turn, like at the library.
To find your local library or school’s catalog of titles, try checking out OverDrive’s Libby app. That app functions well on mobile devices, like Android or iOS, and it supports several public libraries. If not, you could try out Sora, which provides audiobooks to students through their school. If you own a Sonos speaker, the Libby app recently became compatible on those devices.
Google Play Books is a mobile app that is available for both Android and iOS devices. For the most part, this app largely offers ebooks and audiobooks you’d have to pay for. But it also offers a limited selection of free, auto-narrated audiobooks (as in they’re not narrated by human but by artificial intelligence). These particular audiobooks are usually classics, and span both fiction and non-fiction. Google Play Books also offers a few audiobooks for free that aren’t auto-narrated and are more contemporary; and you can view them by searching for “free audio books” in the search bar at the top of the app or by selecting the Free button in the Audiobooks charts section of the app’s Shop tab.
While Google Play Books is mostly known for its mobile app, you can also access it as a website.
Can I listen to audiobooks for free?
Yes. You have a lot of options when it comes to listening to free audiobooks. Check out some of the best places online that offer free access to audiobooks in our list above. It is worth noting however, that while there are free audiobooks you can listen too, they’re not likely to be current bestsellers. Free audiobooks are more likely to be classics and in the public domain. If you want to listen to more recent works for free, your best option is using an app like Libby that is linked with your local public library’s collection. But this depends on your local library’s particular collection of audiobooks.
Is there a way to listen to audiobooks without a subscription?
Yes, if you have a library card, many public libraries let their customers checkout downloadable audiobooks for free via apps like Libby. If you don’t have a library card, you could also use the Google Play Books app, which offers a limited collection of free audiobooks.
What is the best audiobook app?
The best audiobook app really depends on your specific needs, but we can help narrow it down for you. If you’ve got a library card (and a participating local library), you really can’t beat one of our favorite audiobook apps, Libby. If you need other, non-library options, feel free to check out our guide to the best audiobook apps for Android and iOS.