Looking for places to listen to the best free audio books? We’ve got you covered with a list of the best listening platforms below.
If you look at the spectacular boom of audio content, in the past three years, it’s pretty safe to say that it’s having a moment. Free audiobooks are one of the most accessible ways to consume literary and non-fiction content. You can plug in on your commute to work, while you’re going for a walk, or even just when you feel like you’re sick of your own music.
They’re also much less costly than physical books (and better for the environment, tbh). There are even whole platforms dedicated to providing only audiobooks — and yes, you guessed it, FREE audiobooks. We’ve collected a list of the best free audio books, below.
Just realised that I’ve only read 22 physical books all year (HBs, PBs, proofs and graphic novels)
All 139 other books have been ebooks, audiobooks, eARCs or digital manuscripts
This will be why my physical TBR isn’t shrinking 💀
— spookimi 👻 (@imireviewsbooks) October 20, 2021
An excellent resource if you’re looking for a wide range of free audiobooks, Digital Book.IO stocks genres from YA, romance, sci-fi, and history! The platform also has audiobooks in twelve different languages. It’s got a pretty useable interface and gives you access to plenty of books in the public domain, as well as free podcasts.
Check it out here.
BBC Sounds hosts a wide variety of audiobooks. The BBC has a long history of working with famous actors in the UK to provide dramatizations for radio, and it’s now branching out to free abridged audiobooks. BBC Sounds have an extensive listing, with everything from Sherlock Holmes, to Doctor Who.
Check it out here.
Lit2Go is a free collection of public domain books, offered by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at USF. Lit2Go’s collection includes classic children’s books like The Story of Doctor Dolittle, and Peter Pan. Lit2Go also has plenty of classics like Great Expectations, Moby Dick, Dracula, and Wuthering Heights in their library.
Check it out here.
Free Classic Audio Books
The title kinda gives it away, but yes — Free Classic AudioBooks does indeed stock free classic audiobooks. Like most of these platforms, it sources the texts from those available in the public domain. It allows you to download podcasts in MP3 or MP4 formats, so they’re compatible with your devices. The most popular downloads range from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to Jane Austen’s Emma, while also offering language courses — all free to download.
Check it out here.
Not only does Librivox offer a slew of public domain literary content, but the website also has a news update-style feature list that tells users what’s upcoming in the literary world. It hosts a selection of free audiobooks in over 48 languages, a catalogue of over 15,000 books, and almost 12,000 users. The organization also does a call out for volunteers, who help out in recording books published 95 full years ago or longer. So if you’re interested in putting some of your spare reading time to good use, that’s a fun option too!
Most of us use Audacity, since it is free and does everything we need for audiobook production.
— LibriVox (@librivox) October 20, 2021
Check out Librivox here.
Currently owned by Paste Media Group, which runs the music mag Paste Magazine, NoiseTrade continues to remain a direct-to-fan distribution platform. It allows users to access free, original music and literary works, for the exchange of an email and postcode. With the creators whose content you choose to read/watch/listen to, they’ll get access to your email, be able to ask for feedback and start up a friendly discussion. Bonding with like-minded people over audiobooks and music? Sign me up!
(FFO: Father John Misty, Jim James, James Bay) pic.twitter.com/vA2E6bmKPl
— NoiseTrade (@NoiseTrade) February 8, 2021
Check out NoiseTrade here.
Including works, non-fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, Open Culture is a resource where you can download not just literary audiobooks, but educational ones too. Its mission statement reads:
“Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It’s all free. It’s all enriching. But it’s also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high-quality content whenever and wherever you want it.”
Check out Open Culture here.
With an offering of over 60,000 e-books, Project Gutenberg is one of the largest online platforms for you to scour for an audiobook you love! Audiobooks are offered in over 50 languages, and you can sort through them using “special categories”: human-read audiobooks, computer-generated narrations, etc. The organization has been in operation for 50 years, and over that time has accumulated a big following of educators and book-lovers alike.
my dependence on project gutenberg is borderline pathological at this point if the website went down i think i would actually become the joker
— theo (confirmed sigma roach) (@homerslut) October 20, 2021
Check out Project Gutenberg here.
Storynory is the perfect platform to introduce your little ones to reading. It’s readily stocked with a variety of children’s audiobooks like fairytales, myths/world stories, poems, as well as classic authors. In addition to this, they have an “original” section that features unique childrens’ narratives, created just for their users. All the audiobooks are wonderfully illustrated, making it a great first step in helping your child become interested in storytelling and writing.
Check out Storynory here.
ThoughtAudio offers a range of free audiobook titles in the genres of classic literature and philosophy. They’ve got a solid mission of democratizing access to literature and promoting the following message:
“As the world moves toward more complex interactions, one of the most fundamental aspects of humanity is to enjoy its thoughts and its great works. Our journey has always been one of making classic literature available to anyone willing to listen, and now in this next phase, to expand our scope to include more thinkers, writers, and essayists. Although thinking may not seem as relevant today, with advancing technology providing alternative vehicles of entertainment, we are committed to bringing a small part of intellectual enjoyment to the globe.”
Check it out here.
Free trials and subscription-based services
So, all of the services listed below require some form of membership, but they either have a free trial (e.g. Audible) or an ads-based free version (e.g. Spotify). If you’re looking to ease yourself into listening to audiobooks, it could be a great op to run through some options before you commit to any specific one.
- Audible: 30-day free trial, then membership plans begin at $16.45/month
- Kobo: 30-day free trial, then membership plans begin at $12.99/month
- Spotify: ad-based free membership plan, or a premium membership plan.
- Scribd: 30-day free trial, then membership plans at $13.99/month
who the fuck was going to tell me spotify has audio books???
— AJ ☁︎ (@autistianto) October 20, 2021