Time and money are precious. Audiobooks help you make the most of your time because you can listen to them while commuting to and from work, at the gym, doing chores around the home, or performing repetitive tasks at work. And audiobooks don’t need to be expensive; in fact, there are many sites you can download free audiobooks online.
In this guide, we’ll help you discover some of the best places online to find and download free audiobooks for your next listen.
Free Audiobooks Online
Free audiobooks online fall into the following categories:
- Public domain audiobooks. If a book is in the public domain it means that the copyright on the book has expired and therefore anyone is free to distribute it. LibriVox, the largest publisher of free audiobooks, has a public domain wiki page if you would like to learn more about this subject.
- Audiobooks available under a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons licenses allow the distribution of copyrighted works. This easy to understand one-page explanation of rights, with associated visual symbols, explains the specifics of the six main Creative Commons licenses.
- Audiobooks available from your local library. Companies such as OverDrive distribute audiobooks to libraries and schools which you can access using your library card and an app such as Libby.
Where to Download Free Audio Books Online
LibriVox is an online digital library of free public domain audiobooks, read by volunteers. It has a catalog of over 14,000 unabridged audiobooks and shorter works available to download. Approximately 90% of the collection is in English, although recordings are available in a total of 42 languages.
Loyal Books, previously known as Books Should Be Free, delivers free audiobooks available in the public domain (published by LibriVox) in a fun and visual way. You can view the book cover, Top 100 downloads, drill through the genres or use Google search to find a particular title. For each audiobook, you can listen to a short audio preview, read an excerpt, or check out the Wikipedia links on the book and the author. Audiobooks are available in MP3 format or you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.
Digitalbook.io, previously known as Librophile, provides a clean, simple interface for finding free public domain audiobooks and other digital content. You can listen to the audiobooks in your browser, download the MP3 files in a ZIP file or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.
Learn Out Loud has more than 3,000 free audio and video titles available. These are either published by Learn Out Loud or sites such as LibriVox. In addition to audiobooks, Learn Out Loud has lectures, speeches, sermons, and interviews available for download. The site is very user friendly, allowing you to filter results by format and sort by most popular, member rating, etc. Most titles can be downloaded in MP3 format and some as a podcast.
OverDrive is a distributor of audiobooks and other digital content for libraries and schools. More than 50,000 libraries and schools in 78 countries provide content from the OverDrive catalog. The nice thing about borrowing audiobooks from the library is that, unlike the other sites in this article, you can download bestsellers from the world’s leading publishers. Often the audiobook you want won’t be available for immediate download, but all you need to do is place a hold on the audiobook and you will get an email when it’s available. The OverDrive catalog is available via 3 apps:
- Libby – the primary and recommended app for OverDrive library users
- Sora – the primary and recommended app for OverDrive school users.
- OverDrive – the legacy app continues to exist to provide accessibility options for visually impaired readers as well as support for streaming video and multilingual user experience for those wishing to search their library or school’s website in languages other than English.
The Spoken Alexandria Project is a free Creative Commons library of spoken word recordings, consisting of classics in the public domain and modern works (with permission). Audiobooks are available for download in AAC, Ogg Vorbis, and MP3 format. You can view the Top 25 downloads or browse the catalog by genre, length, or reader.
Storynory is an online collection of free audiobooks for kids. There are original stories, fairy tales, classic authors (e.g. Rudyard Kipling), educational stories, and stories for younger children. A new story is published every week (this has been happening since November 2005). The stories can be subscribed to as a podcast in iTunes, through the Storynory App for iPhone, via email or RSS feed. Storynory offers the text to accompany the audio so that kids can read along.
ThoughtAudio has a nice collection of professionally produced classic literature and philosophy titles. You can listen to them online or download them in segments in MP3 format. ThoughtAudio also provides PDF transcripts available for download.
Audible, the largest retailers of audiobooks, offers ‘Audible Free Listens’ which is a selection of 50+ high-quality audiobooks.
What are your favorite places to find and listen to free audiobooks?