15 Ways to Download and Listen to Free Audiobooks (Legally)
Readers and non-readers alike can enjoy the wonderful storytelling of a good audiobook, but when some of your favorite titles are retailing on audio for upwards of $40, the newest trend in literature can get expensive quickly.
While Audible, a service from Amazon, isn’t strictly a site for free audiobooks, there are free audiobooks available. If you have a subscription (we know, not free) you will get two Audible original stories every month which you are able to keep if you decide to discontinue your service. Even without the subscription, there are still books that Audible allows its listeners to download free. Fun fact: if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you’ll have access to hundreds of titles there that you can’t find anywhere else. Take a look around and see if you can find any of the best audiobooks you can listen to right now for free on audible or any of these other sites.
Digital Book, formerly Librophile, is one of the sleekest platforms on the list. It’s like Netflix for books. You can search their database of public domain books from sites all over the Internet—including several on this list—and enjoy from their catalog of over 100,000 free audiobooks and ebooks. An added perk, their free membership allows you to build a personal bookshelf to read later so you don’t have to go searching through for books that you’ve considered in the past. You’ll find classics, new releases, and everything in between on Digital Book.
Like Audible, this one isn’t strictly free, but there are free options on Spotify. Audiobooks don’t cost you anything, but there are some only available to pro-subscribers, that you won’t get as a free member. One of the great things about Spotify is that it isn’t strictly audiobooks. You can also listen to music, podcasts, serials, and more. Not sure what to listen to first? Check out Spotify’s Audiobooks playlist which will play the first chapter of dozens of new audiobooks for you to try out before you start listening.
OverDrive works uniquely from many of the other sites and apps on our list because all you need for the top names, current best sellers, and chart-topping books is a library card. OverDrive partners with local libraries around the United States and even some abroad to provide all the newest books for you to listen to. Once you log in, just input your library card number and you’ll have access to your local libraries’ entire audiobook catalog. The only “downsides” are that you might have to take a trip to your local library to renew your card (which will be free, just like this app) and that, just like at your local library, you have to wait for someone to return their virtually checked out selection before you rent it. OverDrive also has a secondary app for students where you can virtually borrow audiobooks and ebooks from your school’s library. Maybe now you can finally get around to listening to some of these books everyone lies about reading.
Open Culture has done the hard work of finding free audiobooks for you and has compiled a list—or library if you will—of all the free books you can download from other sites. You’ll find links to Audible, iTunes, Free Stream, Spotify, YouTube, and a few other streaming services on the site. The books are organized by author name, and you’ll find a lot of the classics of literature on this list but don’t be surprised to see a few new releases sprinkled in.
If you have kids in your house or a big fan of fairy tales, and nostalgic trips down memory lane, this is the site for you. StoryNory focuses on free audiobooks for kids but you’ll definitely find some of the classics including Aesop’s fables and the tales from the Brothers Grimm. The site is very kid-friendly and there are adaptations of classic literature with child-appropriate formats and editing—a great way to introduce the young ones in your life to some of your favorite stories! Once you’ve burned through StoryNory’s catalog, try out one of our 13 favorite family audiobooks for your next family road trip.
Volunteers from around the world give their time and their voices to record books that are in the public domain for listeners to enjoy on Librivox. You’ll find classics like War and Peace and Anne of Green Gables along with hundreds of books you’ve never heard of but will definitely fall in love with. This site will allow you to download books to your iPod, mobile device, computers, and will even walk you through burning your favorite audiobooks onto a CD. There are currently over 10,000 projects recorded on Librivox, and you can be a part of this great cause by donating your voice and read short works, an actor’s part in a play, a chapter of a longer text, or even donate an entire book of audio to the site, which will release the finished project into the public domain as well.
What it lacks in titles, New Fixtion makes up for in originality. This site provides original stories segmented in daily episodes all recorded by professional voice actors. The style of these stories is far more like an audio-narrative than just having a book read to you, and people who love this site really love it. The only downside is that you can’t download titles onto your devices, you have to listen directly through a desktop or mobile browser.
LearnOutLoud is a great option for everyone, but especially for students. This site hosts everything from fiction to educational content, and is for more than just audiobooks—it has video learning, podcasts, educational courses, documentaries, interviews, speeches, and so much more. If you’re a lifelong learner or just looking for some audiobooks that make time fly when you travel, this site is for you.
Hoopla works much like OverDrive in that all you need is a library card to unlock free audiobooks and free ebooks from local libraries. Hoopla also offers movies, music, comics, and TV shows that you can stream or download on your computer, tablet, phone, and even your TV.
Don’t be scared off by this site’s basic appearance. Project Gutenberg is a no-nonsense site that offers access to public domain classic ebooks and audiobooks, like Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes, and more. Project Gutenberg’s books are mostly narrated by their own volunteers and public domain audiobook contributors, but there are also some computer-narrated books available.
Lit2Go is a collection of stories and poems all strictly in audio format. Like many of the other sites, there are plenty of classics and public domain books, but these are all focused on providing literature for students K-12. Many books can be downloaded as a PDF and used as a read-along, and the books are split up into passages, for easy segmenting of the long-form stories. There are also other supplemental work and studies provided for students to help with their learning, and the books can be searched by reading level which is a big plus for students and parents. Try some of these classic books you can read in a day.
Loyal Books is another public domain audiobook provider but don’t let that word scare you off! With over 7,000 titles, you’ll certainly find something you’ve never read and will enjoy in either their audiobook or eBook sections. Search by genre, language, Top 100, or just by title and author, and we’re sure you’ll find one of the best classic books you should read (or listen to!) before you’re 50 or something even better.
Unlike a lot of the sites on this list, Scribl provides books that are not in the public domain, and not normally free, for free. Also unlike all of the other sites on this list, there’s no way to search through just their free catalog, so you have to check each book’s price as you go. That being said, Scribl is committed to keeping at least 50 percent of all books on their site free no matter how many they upload. Want your ebook or audiobook on one of these sites? Scribl also helps you publish—and might even pay you—for your audiobook.
Internet Archive has thousands of free audiobook and audio poetry downloads available. Like several of the sites we’ve listed, Internet Archive doesn’t just have its own catalog, it also allows you to search through several other audiobook providers archives and play your favorite titles through Internet Archive’s portal instead. You can search by year, topic, media type, and more as you search for your next favorite book. The only way you might have more of a selection is if you lived in the city transforming its subway cars into moving audio-libraries.