In the whirl of our fast-paced lives, finding the time to sit down and immerse ourselves in the pages of a book can often feel like a luxury we can’t afford. Enter audiobooks—a medium that makes books accessible and engaging even when we’re on the move. But what if you’re on a budget or simply exploring if audiobooks are for you? Thankfully, there’s a treasure trove of free audiobooks available, providing a cost-free gateway into this immersive form of storytelling.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore where and how to find free audiobooks, review various audiobook platforms, give tips to maximize your listening experience, and highlight the importance of supporting authors while using these resources. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to dive headfirst into the expansive universe of free audiobooks online. So, sit back, tune in, and let’s embark on this auditory journey.
- The Best Places to Find Free Audiobooks
- Factors to Consider With Free Audiobooks
- How to Maximize Your Free Audiobook Experience
- How to Support Authors While Using Free Audiobook Resources
The Best Places to Find Free Audiobooks
Finding the right free audiobooks can be a bit of an adventure, with some trial and error involved. Each of these platforms has its strengths and limitations—based on your preferences for genre, audio quality, and the type of device you use for listening, some might suit you better than others.
Libby (by OverDrive)
Libby, developed by OverDrive, allows you to borrow eBooks and audiobooks digitally from the library. By linking your library card to the app, you gain access to thousands of titles. Audiobooks on Libby can be streamed online or downloaded for offline use. The main limitation is that the selection depends on your local library’s offerings, and there can be wait times for popular books. Overall, the service is user-friendly and a great resource if your local library has a strong digital collection. To learn more about this platform read our Libby guide.
Similar to Libby, Hoopla partners with local libraries to offer free digital content. Hoopla has a significant selection of audiobooks, along with music, movies, and eBooks. One advantage of Hoopla is its lack of wait times – all titles are always available. The downside is the monthly limit on checkouts. The interface is intuitive, and you can listen online or offline, making Hoopla a great free resource for a variety of media, including audiobooks.
NetGalley is a slightly different platform primarily intended for book reviewers, journalists, librarians, and booksellers, who get access to books (including audiobooks) before they’re published. Members are expected to write reviews and provide feedback on the titles they receive. For avid readers and those willing to provide thoughtful reviews, NetGalley can be an exciting way to discover new titles.
LibriVox is a unique platform where volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain, making them accessible as free audiobooks. It’s a great resource for classic literature. However, as the readings are done by volunteers, the quality can vary significantly between books and even between chapters of the same book. It’s an excellent resource for those who enjoy classics and don’t mind the varying audio quality.
Project Gutenberg is a volunteer-driven initiative that digitalizes books that are no longer under copyright, making them freely available to the public. The audiobook section offers both human-read and computer-generated versions. The range of titles is extensive, primarily focusing on classic literature. The quality varies, particularly between human and computer-read books, but if you’re a fan of classics, this is an incredible free resource.
Loyal Books is another great source for out-of-copyright, public-domain books. They offer a variety of formats, including MP3 and iTunes, and even options for different languages. Like Project Gutenberg, the collection is mostly made up of classics. The quality of readings can vary as some are professionally read while others are done by volunteers, but the website is user-friendly, and the categorization of books makes it easy to browse.
Open Culture is a rich resource that offers free audiobooks, online courses, movies, language lessons, and eBooks. Their collection of audiobooks includes hundreds of classics read by notable figures and authors. They provide convenient links to content hosted on other sites like iTunes, YouTube, or the author’s site. The quality and format can vary depending on the source, but the curated list and wide range of learning materials make this site a great resource.
BBC Sounds is a British platform offering a range of audio content, including radio shows, music, podcasts, and a selection of audiobooks. Most of the audiobooks are abridged versions of classic novels and contemporary works. The content is high quality, as you’d expect from the BBC, but the selection is not as vast as other platforms, and the availability can vary for listeners outside the UK.
Storynory is a treasure trove of audio stories for children. They provide a wealth of original stories, fairy tales, and serialized novels read in a clear, animated British accent that will engage children. The website is straightforward and colorful, attractive to kids, and easy to navigate. Storynory makes it easy to stream stories online or download them for offline listening, and it’s a fantastic resource for bedtime, car rides, or classroom storytime.
Sync is a summer program of free audiobooks geared toward teens aged 13 and older (though anyone is welcome to participate) from AudioFile Magazine in collaboration with OverDrive. In 2023, the program will run for 14 weeks and offer two thematically paired audiobooks for checkout each week through the Sora reading app.
FreeAudiobookCodes.com is a platform where authors or narrators provide free codes for their audiobooks on Audible, usually in exchange for an honest review. The selection can vary, and it’s a bit of a treasure hunt, but it’s a way to find unique titles you might not discover otherwise. However, you will need an Audible account to redeem the codes.
Like Freeaudiobookcodes.com, Audiobooks Unleashed offers free Audible codes for a wide variety of audiobooks in exchange for honest reviews. The process of obtaining a code is straightforward, and it’s a great way to discover new authors or narrators. The selection and quality of titles can vary widely, and as with Freeaudiobookcodes.com, an Audible account is needed to use the service.
Audible, owned by Amazon, is a leading creator and provider of audiobooks and other spoken-word content. While Audible is a paid audiobook platform, it does offer a selection of Free Listens where no trial or membership is required (but you will need an Amazon account). There is also the Audible free trial which lets you try the service free for 30 days.
Audiobooks.com is another leading paid audiobook platform offering a selection of free audiobooks with no membership required. In this case, the books are mostly public-domain works from LibriVox so these titles are available elsewhere, but the Audiobooks.com app makes it easy to find and listen to them. Audiobooks.com also offers a free trial with 3 audiobooks.
Chirp is an audiobook platform offering limited-time deals on popular audiobooks with savings of up to 95% and no requirement to subscribe to the service. It also offers a growing catalog of free audiobooks you can stream with its web player or download and listen to anywhere with the Chirp mobile app for Apple or Android. You can get 30% off your first Chirp purchase with our code: CHIRPAA30
Factors to Consider With Free Audiobooks
The following considerations will ensure that you not only find free content but also secure high-quality audiobooks that respect authors’ rights:
First and foremost, it’s important to emphasize that not all free resources are legal. Copyright law protects many works, meaning that unauthorized distribution or consumption can lead to significant penalties. While exploring free audiobook platforms, ensure they respect intellectual property rights. Platforms like Libby and Hoopla partner with libraries and authors to legally distribute free audiobooks. Avoid sites that encourage or engage in piracy, as they violate the rights of authors and publishers.
While free audiobooks are a great resource, they can sometimes come with subpar audio quality, which can diminish your overall listening experience. Quality can vary based on how and when the audiobook was recorded, and by whom. Some free audiobooks might be professionally produced, while others might be recorded by volunteers. When choosing a platform or specific title, try to find reviews or samples that can help you assess the audio quality before committing your time.
Availability of Titles
Finally, one of the key factors to consider is the range of available titles. Some free resources might only provide access to older works that are now in the public domain, meaning you won’t find contemporary bestsellers or popular series. Other platforms, particularly those partnered with libraries, can offer a broader range of titles, including new releases. Your reading taste and the specific titles you’re interested in will play a significant role in which platforms are best for you.
How to Maximize Your Free Audiobook Experience
Exploring the world of free audiobooks can be both exciting and a bit overwhelming. To ensure you get the most out of these resources, here are a few tips to enhance your free audiobook experience.
Mix and Match Services for Greater Selection
Don’t limit yourself to just one platform. Different services offer various selections and strengths. For instance, LibriVox and Project Gutenberg are excellent for classic literature, while Libby and Hoopla, connected with your library card, offer a more contemporary selection. Using a mix of services will ensure you have a wider range of titles and genres to choose from.
Make the Most of Free Trials on Paid Platforms
Many paid audiobook services like Audible, Audiobooks.com, and Scribd offer free trials for new users. These can range from 14 to 60 days and often allow you to access one or more audiobooks during that period. Be sure to make a note of when the trial ends to avoid unintentional subscription charges. This approach can allow you to access recent releases or popular titles not usually available on free platforms.
Use Apps and Devices for the Best Listening Experience
Most free audiobook platforms have associated apps that offer a better listening experience compared to using a browser. Apps for platforms like Libby, Hoopla, and LibriVox allow you to adjust the playback speed, set a sleep timer, and make bookmarks. Furthermore, using a good pair of headphones or a speaker can significantly enhance audio quality.
Share and Discuss
Consider joining online communities or book clubs focused on audiobooks. Platforms like Goodreads, Reddit (e.g. r/audiobooks), and Facebook (e.g. Audiobook Addicts Facebook Group (no association to this website)) host discussions where you can share recommendations and thoughts about what you’re currently listening to. Discussing can enrich your experience and help you discover new titles.
How to Support Authors While Using Free Audiobook Resources
While free audiobook resources are wonderful for readers, it’s important to consider the authors behind these works. Authors invest significant time, effort, and creativity into creating the books we enjoy. Here are a few ways to support authors while still benefiting from free audiobook services.
Leave Reviews and Ratings
Reviews and ratings are critical for authors. They help boost visibility, influence potential readers, and can even impact an author’s future book deals. After listening to a free audiobook, take a few minutes to leave a review on platforms like Goodreads, Audible, or the audiobook service you used. It’s a simple, cost-free way to support authors.
Share and Recommend Their Books
Word of mouth is a powerful promotional tool. If you enjoyed a book, recommend it to your friends, family, or on social media. You could also consider recommending the book to your local book club or posting about it on online forums. Sharing your positive experiences can help authors reach a larger audience.
Participate in Library Programs
When you borrow an audiobook from the library (either physically or through apps like Libby or Hoopla), the author typically receives a small payment. Libraries also often purchase books based on demand, so borrowing from your library is a great way to support authors.
Purchase the Book
If you’ve enjoyed a free audiobook and would like to support the author financially, consider purchasing a physical or eBook copy. This direct contribution can significantly benefit the author. Plus, owning a copy allows you to revisit the book anytime, annotate, or lend it to friends.
Engage with Authors Online
Most authors have a social media presence or a mailing list. Following authors, engaging with their posts, or subscribing to their newsletter can help boost their platform. Plus, this can keep you updated on their upcoming works or events.
Attend Virtual or In-person Events
Many authors participate in virtual or in-person events like book launches, signings, or literary festivals. Attending these events can offer direct support and also provide a chance for you to connect with the authors whose works you appreciate.
Remember, using free audiobook resources and supporting authors are not mutually exclusive. By consciously taking small steps like these, you can continue to enjoy free audiobooks while also ensuring authors receive the recognition and support they deserve.
In an age where technology continues to transform our experiences, audiobooks represent a bright meeting point of enduring storytelling traditions and ongoing technological innovation. By offering accessibility, versatility, and convenience, free audiobook resources open the door to a vast universe of stories, ideas, and knowledge.
Whether you’re diving into the compelling realms of fiction, exploring the truths of non-fiction, or fostering a love for reading in young minds, free audiobooks are a valuable companion. They transform mundane commutes into epic adventures, household chores into gripping plot twists, and silent evenings into captivating story-telling sessions.
However, amidst this bounty of free literature, it is crucial to remember the heart and effort poured into each book by authors, narrators, and publishers alike. As we benefit from these free resources, it becomes our responsibility to support them, ensuring the sustainability of this enriching ecosystem.
Navigating through the landscape of free audiobooks might require some patience and trial and error, but the rewards are immensely gratifying. So, pick a title, put on your headphones, and let the narratives unfold. In the words of Stephen King, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Free audiobooks ensure this magic reaches every corner, every person, and every device. Happy listening!