How to Get Free Audiobooks: Public Domain, Library, & Online



There are a lot of different ways how to get free audiobooks and listen for free. Audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular in the US. Just last year, Deloitte Insights predicted that the audiobook industry is poised to grow 20-25 percent per year for the next few years.

But how can you get in on this new trend without breaking your bank?

There are many easy ways to get free audiobooks. The easiest is to get a local library card. However, there are online nonprofits that distribute audiobooks and works from the public domain. Additionally, media streamers such as Spotify and YouTube yield results as well. Plus, premium content providers offer free trials with some subscriptions for those who are curious.

If you’re looking to cuddle up with some free audiobooks, read on for some tips and tricks on how to find them!

How to Get Free Audiobooks from Your Library

The best place to get any free books, let alone free audiobooks, is your local public library. Getting a library card from public libraries is free and will give you digital as well as physical access to your library’s collection of audiobooks and eBooks. Plus, it’s a great way to support your library!

how to get audiobooks for free from library

Using a library card is also a great way how to get free books for kids.

To get a library card, you will need to provide proof of residence in your library’s district. Identification requirements vary by library. However, the most commonly accepted IDs are:

  • Current driver’s license
  • Non-driver photo identification
  • Photo identification with name & current address

For more information, call your local library or visit their website.

Upkeep of your library card is necessary. This means renewing your card before it expires. Furthermore, it is crucial to return your books by the due date. Frequent lateness can result in fines and the suspension of your borrowing privileges.

OverDrive

Once you get your library card, you will gain access to your library’s book streaming apps for free audiobooks and eBooks. OverDrive is wildly popular with libraries, and they offer several apps for free classic audiobooks online.

The overdrive platform started in 1986 and is located in Ohio. OverDrive has been at the forefront of digital content distribution since 2000. They are active in more than 81,000 libraries and schools in 106 countries with industry-leading apps that are designed for reading happiness!

How to Access and Download Audiobooks for Free with OverDrive

To access the audiobooks offered through their apps, log in using your library’s name and your library card. From there, you will have digital access to all of your library’s collections.

  • Libby: This app from OverDrive is used by millions of readers and is completely free to use with a library subscription. You can use the Libby App just like you would check out short stories, classic authors, and educational stories just like you physically would from a library. The biggest difference in using the app is that it has some enhanced, user-friendly options to customize your listening experience.
  • Kanopy: The Kanopy App is also available from OverDrive with a library subscription and also offers more streaming media. Kanopy is an amazing streaming service that features high-quality videos. It has everything you need to entertain, whether it be through movies or classic TV shows. The best part about this platform? There are no ads. It’s quality content with subtitles available in different languages for those who don’t speak English fluently.
  • Sora: If you are looking for audiobook downloads for classic fairy tales for kids, the Sora App by OverDrive may be an option for a free audiobook for children. This is offered free more through school districts than libraries, however. With the Sora App, however, students can log in with their school credentials and read eBooks as well as listen to audiobooks that are available for download.

Hoopla

Hoopla is another great option for audiobook files from your local library. Hoopla is an all-encompassing app that includes movies, TV, shows, music, ebooks, comics, and audiobooks. If your library offers this app, you can log in using your library card. This app is easy to use for audiobooks. However, there is a borrowing limit allowed for the month across all media types.

There are more than 7.5 million subscribers on this platform that hold library subscriptions that access this platform. Book lovers rejoice because this app gives you the option to download or stream eBooks, audiobooks, comics, and more!

cloudLibrary

This is another platform where you can find free audiobooks online with your library subscription. They offer a huge selection of materials and a customized experience. Their large collection of genres can be customized by the user to search by title, author, publication date, and subject.

One of the reasons this platform is so popular is that once you have downloaded an audiobook on cloudLibrary, you can use this app on just about any device, and there are NO ADS! They support multiple devices, including:

  • iPad
  • iOS Devices
  • iPhone & iPod Touch
  • Android Phone & Tablet
  • Kindle Fire
  • Windows & Mac Computers
  • Chromebooks

Local libraries rely on public support to survive. So if you are happy with the service they provide, get involved with advocacy and volunteer work!

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Find Free Public Domain Audiobooks Online

Aside from using a library subscription mentioned above, there are also free audiobook sites that allow free audiobook downloads, or you can stream audiobooks for free online through the public domain.

Find free public domain audiobooks online

When a book is in the public domain, it is legally considered to belong to the public free of charge. Most published works enter the public domain after a prolonged period of time. Government writings, like the Gettysburg Address, are also public domain. So while you may not find today’s best sellers, there are many age-old classics available to read online.

Check out some of the free audiobook sites below to get free public-domain books online.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is the best well-known free audiobook site. In fact, initiatives like Project Gutenberg were designed to make these works accessible via eBook. It is the oldest digital library with over 60,000 free eBooks and growing. With a mission to digitize and archive cultural works, they offer an impressive collection of public domain books available for download in various multiple formats like ePUB, MOBI, Kindle, Plain Text UTF-8, and HTML Markup.

Librivox

Converting classic titles and classic literature into a digital book is no easy feat. However, distributing free audiobooks from the public domain can be a more demanding process. Recording these works require time, voice talent, and proper audio hardware and software. Luckily, there are nonprofits such as Librivox dedicated to becoming the audiobook equivalent of their eBook predecessor.

Librivox is a great service run by audiobook enthusiasts from around the world. The website posts recordings of works from the public domain read by volunteers. Therefore, you will likely find multiple versions of your audiobook in multiple languages. This provides the flexibility of listening to the narrator that fits your tastes. And if you think you can do better, you can join the fun and send a recording of your own!

LiteralSystems.org

LiteralSystems hosts visitors to its site and internet archive for audiobooks from all over the world. Most of their users (roughly over 60%) come from the United States and Canada.

LiteralSystems pride itself on offering free audiobooks produced at a professional level.All of their books are from the public domain and featured in Project Gutenberg’s “readings by people” section. They also provide transparency as they display the expenses along with donations received on their site by quarter.

Loyal Books

Loyal Books has over 7,000 free audiobooks from the public domain, including bestsellers and classics like “Life on the Mississippi,” “Dracula,” and “War of The Worlds.”

What separates Loyal Books from other sites is that they offer not only free audiobook downloads but also free eBook versions in several formats like ePub, Kindle, and PDF. These eBooks can be downloaded to any device, including iPad, Nook, and Android phones and tablets. If you want to stream your audiobook instead of downloading it, they have an app for that too!

Internet Archive

You can find free audiobooks online with the Internet Archive. The mission of the Internet Archive is “to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge.” They are a nonprofit organization working to bring books, movies, software, and music to the masses for free.

download free audio books from internet archive
Internet Archive has over 3.0 million audiobook titles available for download

With over 3 million titles available, they have one of the largest digital book collections in existence. Along with eBooks, you can find live and recorded concerts, audiobooks, radio shows, TV programs, and even images!

Open Culture

Open Culture is another place to find free audiobooks online through the public domain. Not only are original stories offered by Open Culture, but there are also new titles, science fiction, non-fiction, and classic works. Their specialty is classic works.

Some of the authors you will find on Open Culture include:

  • Orwell
  • Hemmingway
  • HG Wells
  • Tolstoy
  • Twain
  • Fitzgerald
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Shakespeare
  • Austen
  • Dickens
  • Kipling
  • Mencken
  • Chesterton
  • Wilde
  • Bronte

Uniquely, online courses are also offered on Open Culture. These are from Ivy League schools and other top-tier universities. The courses range in topics from business to history to literature and more.

Lit2Go

Another one of the best websites to find free audiobooks is Lit2Go. This site is run by the University of South Florida and offers over 1,500 classic works from over 400 authors. These are all from the public domain and are available in multiple formats, including eBooks, MP3s, and PDFs.

What separates Lit2Go from other sites is that their books are specifically designed for educational purposes. This means that each work includes a teacher’s guide with lesson plans and discussion questions. These resources make this an ideal site for educators looking to incorporate audiobooks into their curriculum. However, it takes time to record books of high quality, so the selection is smaller than some of the other sites.

ThoughtAudio

If you enjoy listening to audiobooks that are out of the ordinary, ThoughtAudio is the site for you. This site offers “unconventional audiobooks for unconventional people.” You will find titles here that you won’t find anywhere else, including works by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Foucault.

In addition to unique titles, ThoughtAudio also offers free classic audiobooks like “Dracula” and “The Call of the Cthulhu.” These are all read by professional voice actors and are available in MP3 format.

Storynory

If you are looking for short stories and fairy tales for kids, Storynory is the perfect site. This site has been around since 2005 and offers hundreds of free audio stories for kids. These are all original stories written by professional writers and performed by voice actors.

The stories on Storynory range in length from 5 minutes to 30 minutes and are suitable for kids of all ages. You can either listen to the stories online or download them as MP3 files.

All of these projects rely on the support of listeners like you! So if you enjoy these websites, consider making a donation or becoming a volunteer.

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Find Free Audiobooks with Media Streamers

Streaming services like Spotify and YouTube are very popular ways to save money on streaming services in addition to providing free audiobooks as well. However, finding them will require some search engine savvy on your part. Here are some tips to help you find what you’re looking for.

download audiobooks for free with media streamers

YouTube

Out of the two services, YouTube is the easiest to search through. Simply search for the author or book you are interested in to get started. Be wary of searching for any copyrighted material since it will likely be taken down by the website due to violations of use.

Your best bet is looking for a YouTube channel dedicated to audiobooks. We have some channels recommended below.

YouTube Channels for Audiobooks

These YouTube channels above will give you a great starting point, with plenty of audiobooks to choose from.

Spotify

Spotify is a bit more difficult. Searching for audiobooks on Spotify requires more tact. Here are some tips:

  1. Start with a basic search. Start with a basic search on Spotify. Your top result for “audiobooks” will most likely be Spotify’s audiobook playlist. However, it is not well-curated. Scroll down to “Artists,” “Albums,” and “Playlists” for the best results.
  2. Browse playlists. User-created audiobook playlists are great for finding audiobooks that fit your niche. They may also help you find more works by a specific writer.
  3. Check the artist listings. When you find an audiobook you like, check the artist listing. Sometimes the book’s author will be listed. Clicking on that listing will lead to a page with more books written by the same author. On the other hand, some audiobooks list the production company as the artist. In this case, if you prefer the narration of a specific company, you can find more of their recordings on their artist page.
  4. Always listen from the album page. If you are listening on a basic Spotify account, your playlist will be shuffled. Therefore, at the end of each chapter, use the three dots icon to navigate back to the album page and start the next chapter.

Additionally, bookriot.com suggests these artist pages for good listening:

  • Audiobooks
  • Doctor Who
  • DBS Audiobooks
  • Wordscape
  • Various Authors
  • Spotify’s Women’s History playlists

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Use Digital Distribution Services to Find Free Audiobooks Online

Another great way how to get free audiobooks and ebooks is to use digital distribution services. Digital distribution services are platforms where you can find and download all sorts of digital content, including audiobooks. Some of the best digital distribution platforms for audiobooks and eBooks would include Google Play, Apple Books (formerly iBooks), Rakuten Kobo, and Nook.

Google Play Books

A lot of people don’t know this, but digital distribution services such as Google Play Books also have free audiobooks available.

Google Play offers free audiobooks on a wide variety of topics, including children’s books, self-help, religion, and fiction as well. They give away two audiobooks per week during the summer.

Using digital distribution services makes a lot of sense for free audiobooks. You can listen to these books on your PC or while on the go, such as in your car or while working out.

In addition to Google Play Books, there are other options as well for audiobooks.

Apple Books

Apple Books, for example, offers select free titles from a book series. This is a great way to preview the audiobook series for free before deciding on buying it.

Rakuten Kobo

Rakuten Kobo also offers a small selection of free eBooks as well across multiple topics for listening to. This includes free classics, new releases, and more.

Barnes & Noble Nook

Lastly, Nook also offers a small collection of completely free audiobooks that you can download and listen to.

You can find these books by going to the Nook store and then filtering the results for free only.

Barnes & Noble offers their free audiobooks online organized in several ideal ways so finding what you are looking for is easy. Some of the ways you can select free audiobooks from Barnes & Noble include:

  • Top Free Nook Books
  • Staff Pics
  • Start a Series for Free
  • Free for a Limited Time
  • 1000s of Free eBooks for Kids

If you have time available, you can also browse free eBooks by subject as well on their site.

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Available Free Trials for Premium Subscriptions

If you are only interested in free audiobooks or eBooks, pass on subscription services like Audible and Scribd. However, if you are considering an audiobook subscription, check if your desired subscription offers a free trial. You can get two free audiobooks with an Audible account on certain promotions.

For example, Amazon Prime members gain an additional premium credit when signing on to the trial. As your renewal date approaches, Audible will send you an email so you may cancel at your convenience.

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Related Questions:

How Do I Get Free Audiobooks on my iPhone?

You can get the Audible app from the App Store and start listening to audiobooks on your iPhone for free. Choose to either stream or download the audiobooks for offline playback. There is a large selection of free audiobooks available, including classics, bestsellers, and new releases.

What is the Best Audiobook App?

There are many audiobook apps available, but the best one would be Audible. It has the largest selection of audiobooks, including classics, bestsellers, and new releases. The app is also very user-friendly and has features such as bookmarking, sleep timer, and variable playback speed.

Is a Free Audiobook Legal?

There are many websites that offer free audiobooks, but not all of them are legal. Make sure to check the website carefully before downloading anything. Some websites may be offering pirated content, which is illegal.

The best way to find legal and free audiobooks would be through digital distribution platforms such as Google Play, Apple Books, Rakuten Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. These platforms offer a wide selection of free audiobooks that are completely legal to download and listen to. 

Final Thoughts

In short, free audiobooks and eBooks are easy to find if you know where to look. Finding out how to get free audiobooks isn’t hard. Getting a library card is the best way to listen to classics and new releases. However, there are websites that offer works and free access from the public domain, like Librivox, Project Gutenberg, and LiteralSystems. Spotify and YouTube also provide some great playlists and channels to get you started.

There are also a lot of digital distribution services that offer free audiobooks and eBooks as well.

Lastly, if you are thinking of jumping to a premium subscription, check out their free trial first.

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BG Vance

For over 20 years, BG Vance has been a leader in public and personal financial management. He's developed and managed public budgets in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. He is passionate about the FIRE movement and was featured in the Detroit News in 2001 about saving for retirement. Through the years, he's assisted families and individuals with getting their finances on track. He holds an MPA, is a licensed Realtor, and is currently working on a book about personal finance.

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