On a solo road trip, an audiobook can make the perfect companion. Or, if you’re in the middle of a task, listening to an audiobook 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 are trying out audiobooks 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. It supports several audio formats as well.
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, run by Florida’s Educational Technology Clearinghouse, contains a comprehensive collection of downloadable short stories 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).
Our personal favorites? Proto-Feminist Literature or Autumn in Verse. After all, nothing inspires classic poetry quite like the changing seasons.
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 their collection does include free content among its ebooks, audio ebooks, and podcasts. Podcast versions of books are usually free while ebooks and audiobook 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 and MP4 formats, as a podcast, 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. The occasional story competitions only further encourage listening and creativity on behalf of your children.
OverDrive doesn’t offer audiobooks for you to purchase directly from them. Instead, the application syncs up to your local library or school and delivers their audiobooks to you (for free). Just like a physical library book, audiobook, or movie, you would borrow from the library or school, you “borrow” the audiobook through OverDrive, and it’s essentially “free” to use. Also, there’s a time limit associated with digital media just like any other physical book or disc you borrow. However, gaining access to this platform also means that you need a valid library card or school ID. Keep in mind that you will also be limited to the selection that your library or school has available to borrow.
The available digital content depends on the individual institution or state. For instance, the North Carolina Digital Library currently provides 131 audiobooks out of 1,000 that you can borrow right now, including The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Revival by Stephen King. If there’s something you’d like to read, or rather listen to, but it’s not currently available, you can always place it on hold too, just like a regular library book.
Once you link OverDrive to your local library or school, there are several ways for you to access the content. The site’s Libby app works best for mobile devices and targets public libraries. Another option is Sora, which serves audiobooks to students through schools. A Windows 10 Libby app is available for PC users. If you use a modern Chromebook, you will want to utilize the Android app. OverDrive media isn’t compatible with macOS, so Mac owners must access the audiobooks with a browser. OverDrive recently added the Libby app for Sonos speakers as well.
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