Audiobooks are the perfect way to spend a long drive or to make boring chores pass by quickly, but so many of them cost an arm and a leg. Audiobooks average between $20 and $30 – much more than the cost of a paperback or a hardback book.
The good news is that there are sites where you can find free, legal audiobooks online to download and enjoy. Make sure any book you download for free is actually free and not pirated. After all, you don’t want to cut into a hardworking author’s income.
LibriVox is the main site of a non-profit initiative that aims to convert public domain books into free audiobooks. All of the books are read by volunteers and provided for free for anyone to listen to.
LibriVox is home to thousands of classic novels and even audio versions of magazines. You can download the books or listen to them online, chapter-by-chapter.
OverDrive allows you to access a wide range of audiobooks, even recent best-sellers, through your library. All you need is a library card to your local library and you can sign in and listen to audiobooks through your phone or tablet.
MindWebs is a collection of more than 150 science-fiction and fantasy short stories, all available for free. They are presented as radio dramas, with titles from some of the all-time greats like Ursula K. Le Guin and H.G. Wells.
Everyone knows Project Gutenberg for its collection of classic books, but it also provides a huge number of audiobooks. What makes it stand out is that you can have a computer read books to you, although fair warning: it’s not a great experience. The good news is there are options for humans to read the books, too.
Believe it or not, Spotify is good for more than just music. Many of your favorite novels are available for free, read by some huge names – for example, you can listen to The Great Gatsby read by Sean Astin.
Audiobooks.com is a subscription service, but you can sign up for a 30-day free trial and receive three audiobooks at no cost. One book is your choice, and the other two are selected by Audiobooks from their VIP selection. After the first 30 days, the subscription is $15 per month.
AllYouCanBooks.com is a bit like a buffet. Sure, it costs money – but you get the first 30 days free (and can cancel before you are charged) and consume as many audiobooks as you like during that time. With more than 40,000 books to choose from, that’s a whole lot of listening time.
Scribl is an online marketplace, so you can buy quite a few different audiobooks on the site. On the other hand, you can also find roughly half of its library available for free. Unfortunately, you can’t sort by price, and the website itself is horrendously slow – but if you think of it like a treasure hunt, you can find interesting books for no cost.
Storynory is the go-to spot for children’s audiobooks on the internet. With original stories, fairy tales, stories from classic authors, and even educational content, you can download stories through the iOS app, find content on YouTube, or listen straight from the website.
Sync is a summer reading marathon for teens, hosted each year by AudioFile Magazine. You can sign up and receive two themed audiobooks each week for the summer. It’s a great option for teens that want to find more age-appropriate titles. Just sign up on AudioFile Magazine’s website to take part.
11. Hoopla Digital
Hoopla Digital is a section of Midwest Tape, an organization that provides media to public libraries in North America. As long as you have a library card, you can sign up for the service and gain access to free audiobooks from more than 1,500 libraries. If you don’t have a library card, you can sign up for one from within the app with just a few steps.
12. Learn Out Loud
Learn Out Loud is a database of educational resources. You can find audiobooks on a variety of topics from self-help to language learning. While not all of the content is available for free, enough of it is that you should check out what’s available to you. The books can be listened to online or downloaded for consumption later.
Lit2Go is a collection of free books and writings. You can download the different content as either an audio file or as a PDF. Most of the books on Lit2Go are in the public domain, so you might see overlap between these titles and other public domain databases on this list. On the other hand, it’s a great way to hear stories like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
14. Open Culture
If many of the entries listed here compile free audiobooks from the public domain, Open Culture is a bit like a compiler of databases. It lists thousands of audiobooks, but when you find one you want to stream or download, you will be redirected to the original site that hosts it. However, its centralized collection of titles make it a great way to search for more obscure books you can’t find elsewhere.
Audible is another section of Amazon and one of the best sites to find and purchase audiobooks on the web. It’s an expensive service, clocking in at $15 per month. However, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial and receive one free book (two if you’re an Amazon Prime member) that you keep forever, even if you cancel your subscription.
ThoughtAudio has a collection of educational and philosophical titles intended to expand your horizons and broaden your thinking. You can stream or download audio books from the site, but it’s worth noting it hasn’t been updated since September of 2020.