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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 ways to get free audiobooks. The easiest is to get a library card. However, there are online nonprofits that distribute works from the public domain. Additionally, Spotify and YouTube yield results as well. Plus, premium content providers offer free trials 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!
Get a Library Card
The best place to get any free books, let alone audiobooks is your local public library. Getting a library card 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!
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.
Once you get your library card, you will gain access to your library’s book streaming apps for free audiobooks and ebooks. Most libraries utilize one of these apps:
- Overdrive & Libby are both powered by the Overdrive To access their audiobooks, log in using your library’s name and your library card. From there, you will have digital access to all of your library’s collection. Both apps operate in a similar fashion. The biggest difference is that Libby has some enhanced, user-friendly options to customize your listening experience.
- 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.
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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Check Out Works From the Public Domain
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.
In fact, initiatives like Project Gutenberg were designed to make these works accessible via ebook.
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 dedicated to becoming the audiobook equivalent of their ebook predecessor.
Here are some great sites to follow:
- 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!
- Telltale Weekly and the Spoken Alexandria Project, founded by writer and actor, Alex Wilson, work in tandem with each other. Telltale Weekly produces professional audiobooks available at low prices, usually 25 cents to $8 USD. The sales from Telltale Weekly fund the Spoken Alexandria Project, which releases the recordings to the public for free after either 5 years or 100,000 downloads, whichever comes first.
- org pride themselves 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.
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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Use Media Streamers (Spotify & YouTube)
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.
Out of the two services, YouTube is the easiest to search through. Simply search 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.
Searching for audiobooks on Spotify requires more tact. Here are some tips:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Doctor Who
- DBS Audiobooks
- Various Authors
- Spotify’s Women’s History playlists
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Use Digital Distribution Services
Another great way how to get free audiobooks and ebooks is to use digital distribution services. 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 in a wide variety of topics including children’s books, self-help, religion, and fiction as well.
Using digital distribution services make 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.
Some of the other best digital distribution platforms for audiobooks and ebooks would include Apple Books (formerly iBooks), Kobo, and Nook.
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.
Kobo also offers a small selection of free ebooks as well across multiple topics for listening to.
Additionally, Barnes & Noble also offers free audiobooks through the nook app. All you have to do is download the nook app and you can listen to books for free from select topics.
Barnes & Noble offers has 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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Avail 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.
For example, Audible Premium Plus offers a 30-day trial, which gives free access to the entire Audible catalog and one free credit to access premium content. 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.
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 from the public domain, like Librivox, The Spoken Alexandria Project, 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.