On a solo road trip, an audiobook can make the perfect companion. Or, if you’re in the middle of a task, listening to one can leave your hands and your eyes free. Ultimately, there are plenty of reasons why people prefer audiobooks, and we can’t argue with any of them.
Whether you’re interested in expanding your audiobook collection or you’re just trying them out for the first time, check out some of our favorite and completely legal websites for downloading audiobooks that won’t cost you a dime.
Open Culture is one of the better gateway websites for educational and cultural media. The site gathers content from around the web to present an admirable audiobook collection — primarily classics — you can stream or download.
The site organizes audiobooks by genre (fiction and literature, nonfiction, and poetry) and alphabetically listed by the author’s last name.
Lit2Go offers one of the finer sources for free audiobooks. The throwback site, “a part of the Educational Technology Clearinghouse” and run by The Florida Center for Instructional Technology (University of South Florida), contains a comprehensive collection of downloadable short stories, books, and poems. The site delivers most audiobooks as a single MP3 or as short, segmented passages of specific chapters.
The homepage search option is a nice touch, as is the black-and-white artwork accompanying each title and book collection. You can browse by author, title, genre, collection, and reading level (grades K through 12).
Formerly known as Podiobooks, Scribl showcases some of the best, off-the-beaten-path audiobooks found on the internet, many of which are recent publications. The site distributes content that mostly requires payment, but its collection does include free content among its e-books, audio e-books, and podcasts. Podcast versions of books are usually free while e-books and audiobooks are only sometimes free.
Formally known as Books Should Be Free, Loyal Books is a family-friendly website catering to the classic literature devotee. The site offers a nice collection of public-domain novels and short stories in multiple languages. They’re available in MP3, as a podcast, iPod/iPhone M4b, and as an RSS feed. You can also stream book chapters.
The site lists titles by genre, language, and popularity. You can search for specific books using the integrated Google search bar along the top. Plus, most books offer ratings and reviews from fellow listeners, thus giving you a slightly better idea of what to expect before you click play.
There’s hardly ever enough time for bedtime stories — no matter how amazing you are as a parent. Thankfully, Storynory provides a solution for those who simply have a hard time reading to their kids. It offers a collection of original and classic fairy tales along with short novels specifically tailored for children.
The site currently offers a few hundred audiobooks, a number that steadily grows as Storynory routinely publishes at least one new story each week. Storynory also touts some of the most exuberant narrators around.
Given that each story utilizes an HTML 5 player for playback, you can listen on nearly any smartphone, tablet, or browser.
OverDrive currently does not allow users to purchase audiobooks directly from the platform. Instead, this app pairs with your local library or school and shares audiobooks with users, like you, for free. The app functions similarly to a library— the same rules apply as though you were borrowing a book straight from your library; it’s just all done virtually. The book you’re borrowing online is still free for you to read, but you’ll only have access to it for a brief time. You will have to have a valid library card or a school ID to use this digital service. Unfortunately, you’re going to be limited to the catalog available in your library or school’s digital collection.
Keeping that in mind, the availability of titles will depend on your specific institution. To borrow an OverDrive audiobook, you can simply check it out via an electronic checkout. If it’s not available right now, you can put it on hold and wait for your turn, like at the library.
To find your local library or school’s catalog of titles, try checking out OverDrive’s Libby app. That app functions well on mobile devices, like Android or iOS, and it supports several public libraries. If not, you could try out Sora, which provides audiobooks to students through their school. If you own a Sonos speaker, the Libby app recently became compatible on those devices.