Learn Out Loud, Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast, BookRix and more
Learn Out Loud is a hybrid audiobook library of sorts. The site features an enormous collection of audiobooks — more than 30,000 and counting — but they’re not all free. However, if you click the Free Stuff tab at the top of the homepage, you can access a fairly extensive collection of free audiobooks. From there you can browse by genre, popularity, and audio format. The site also continually spotlights the free audiobook of the month in the left-hand column, while offering a noteworthy selection of foreign language courses and video documentaries.
Who doesn’t want to be soothed to sleep by the sultry sounds of a woman’s voice? Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast is a collection of famous short stories read by Miette, a mysterious woman with an enthralling way of speaking. Every once in a while a guest vocalist will read a story or two but the real draw is Miette. She will bring whole new meaning to Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily because she forces the listener to pay attention to every word in a way most narrators only dream of. Moreover, you can browse audiobooks based on their author, recording date, or comment popularity. Sadly, commentators aren’t always the nicest group of folks on the Web.
Literal Systems — formerly known as Verkaro — may not offer a huge variety of books, but it also doubles as an excellent fundraising platform designed to benefit a small community in Santa Fe. Moreover, the barebones site features a host of original stories and voicework, all of which features local talent. Each audiobook, whether you’re downloading classic novels like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter or the complete poetry works of Rudyard Kipling, is available for download as an MP3, or listenable using an embedded YouTube compilation. There isn’t much in the way of content — in fact, the site only houses 50 audiobooks or so — but the quality is top-notch and everything can be found under the Contents section located on the side menu.
If you’re tired of the classics and you’re looking for something new and different, BookRix may be able to help you out. The site serves a platform for independent writers to publish their work for free, allowing for a multitude of both written and audio content that doesn’t always fit the “classic” bill. It’s an extensive collection, too, one that features thousands upon thousands of pages worth of novels. You can filter search results based factors such as genre or popularity, or simply search for a specified writer. The active user community and comment threads are BookRix’s biggest assets, though, provide you with a method of engagement that goes beyond simple listening.
We never said you had to actually go to your public library to pick up an audiobook — heaven forbid! Most public library systems now have extensive online databases where you can stream and download audiobooks completely free with or without using your library card. Although the browsing method and audiobook availability will vary from county to county, most public libraries typically offer more recent audiobooks that have yet to enter public domain. Search your local listings or head on over to publiclibraries.com to find your county library.