Free Classic Audio Books, LibriVox, Loyal Books, Storynory, and Librophile
Free Classic Audio Books is pretty self explanatory. The basic site offers free recordings of Treasure Island, Emma and The King James Bible. The site itself is a bit difficult to browse, but as long as don’t mind sticking with the most popular titles or know exactly what you’re looking for, you can navigate it rather quickly. Everything available on the site is absolutely free, too, and can be downloaded as either an MP3 or M4B for listening on a variety of devices. As the apt title might imply, though, it’s not the site for listening to anything newer than Huckleberry Finn.
LibriVox asks volunteers to record different chapters or sections of books. As you might expect, this can make listening to a novel either more interesting or simply awful depending on the voice at hand. Thankfully, you can search book selections by “solo” if you prefer hearing a single voice the whole time, not to mention by author, title, genre, or even language (English, French, Balinese, Old Norse, etc.). The site claims it will accept any reader speaking in any language as long as they can be understood, but given there’s no audition process, people can pretty much submit whatever and whenever they want. The unique features opens the site up to a wealth of diverse content, but again, the narrations can be hit or miss. I guess voice actors need to start somewhere, though.
Formally known as Books Should Be Free, Loyal Books is a family-friendly website that caters to the classic literature devotee. The site offers a nice collection of public domain novels and short stories in multiple languages, available in both Mp3 and MP4 format in addition to a podcast and an RSS feed. You can also stream book chapters online and browse titles by genre, language, and popularity, or search for specific books using the integrated Google search bar at the top of the page. Plus, most books offer ratings and reviews from fellow listeners, thus giving you a slightly better idea of what to expect before you hit the play button.
There just isn’t always time for bedtime stories — no matter how amazing a parent you are. Thankfully, Storynory provides a solution for those who simply can’t find the time to read to their kids, offering a collection of original and classic fairy tales and short novels specifically tailored for children. The site currently only offers a couple hundred audiobooks to choose from, but it is steadily growing as it routinely publishes at least one new story each week. Storynory also touts some of the most exuberant narrators around, and given each story utilizes an HTML 5 player for playback purposes, you can listen to the audiobooks on nearly any smartphone, tablet, or browser available. The occasional story competitions only further encourage listening and creativity on behalf of your children.
Librophile is another free alternative for accessing classic audiobooks. The site’s minimalistic design, clean layout, and bookshelf-like appearance make it easy to navigate through the vast array of titles by popularity, release date, and genre. Want to listen to James Joyce’s Ulysses or the inspiration for the longest running musical on Broadway? Not a problem. You can stream chapters right on the site or download entire novels for offline use with more than 500 different MP3 players. You can even subscribe to the site via iTunes, or save titles for quick reference if you don’t mind forking over your Facebook credentials.