If you are a fan of audiobooks, you don’t always need to spend a ton of money. You can get free audiobooks outside of your library. In the age of technology, it’s an often overlooked, but valuable resource. Head to your local library and get a library card if you don’t have one and do make use of their audiobook program. Then, if you’re looking for more sources, check out our list of these free audiobook sites. Have we got a list for you! There’s a little bonus at the end, too.
Kiddie Records Weekly
Ideal for those of us with children or with a sense of nostalgia for the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Those of us that grew up in those times will know that when Tinkerbell rings her bell, it’s time to turn the page. Kiddie Records Weekly is a site that has hundreds of these old school audiobooks available to stream for free. Hear legends like Joe DiMaggio, Bing Crosby, Boris Karloff, Orson Welles, and Rosemary Clooney share stories about some of the greatest children’s characters like the Looney Tunes, Winnie the Pooh, Bozo the Clown, Pinocchio…the list goes on. Keep in mind, these are recorded from vinyl records so the pops and hisses are part of the charm.
You can freely stream any of the records, but if you’d like to download them, you will need a subscription. It might be worth it to subscribe though as a one-month subscription is only $9.99. Try finding just one of these records in listenable condition for that price. If possible, the downloads come with high-resolution images of the albums and storybooks or booklets that came with the originals.
The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) does a lot more than produce Mrs. Brown’s Boys. Being a state-sponsored media company, they produce a ton of free video and audio content. BBC Sounds is where you can access free audiobooks done in serial format. Most of the content is original and the production quality is Hollywood-level with some of the biggest actors from the UK voicing them. There’s a nice blend of drama, mystery, and even comedy to be had.
The majority of the books are actually from LibriVox and all are in the public domain. What sets Greatest AudioBooks apart is that they curate the LibriVox books so you only get the best books in your YouTube subscription feed. Why are they the best books? They consider the subject matter of the book, the production quality, and the voice of the volunteer reading the book.
For children, StoryNory is the mother lode. Along with children’s classics like Alice in Wonderland, the folks at StoryNory also write original children’s stories and share them all for free. The production quality is very high as they are read by professional actors and produced by a former BBC Radio producer. You can either stream or download the stories for free, or subscribe to their podcast to get the newest content as soon as it comes out.
University Audio Books
With a few hundred books, University Audio Books is another decent site for free audio books. They act more as a curator of stories than a producer, as you can tell by the books either being available as YouTube videos or streamable from JW Player. Public domain books tend to be available as YouTube videos while newer works appear to only be available for streaming via JW Player. The collection includes a lot of public domain classics from legends such as H.P. Lovecraft and Ernest Hemingway but also has some newer books like Mockingjay from The Hunger Games series and non-fiction classics like Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It isn’t clear whether the newer books are properly licensed for them to offer for streaming, though. If in doubt, leave them out.
Learn Out Loud
Learn Out Loud offers thousands of audiobooks for free. Some are downloadable directly from their site, some have links to free downloads on Amazon, and some feature a YouTube version of the book. Learn Out Loud also has its own YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/learnoutloud). As the name suggests, Learn Out Loud is focused on resources for learning. The sheer amount of free resources available makes up for the clunky website.
Another site for enlightening audiobooks is Thought Audio. With only 98 audiobooks currently in their collection, and all of them being in the public domain, you might think Thought Audio isn’t worth your time. Well, you’d be wrong. Thought Audio produces all of their content, so you get to hear the books read by some interesting actors. You might enjoy hearing Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County being read by actor Michael Scott playing Mark Twain. It’s a treat!
The Creation of the University of South Florida’s College of Education, Lit2Go is another repository of free audiobooks intended for learning. Again, more classics and more public domain fare from authors like Jane Austen, Sara Cone Bryant, and Emily Dickinson. The books are broken down into a file for each chapter, which you can stream or download. It’s a little tedious, but if you have iTunes, you can download them from iTunes University more easily.
What sets this site apart is that it is really geared towards formal learning. Each title has its own Flesch–Kincaid Readability score, word count, and built-in citation tool. This is a great resource for teachers and students alike.
The last audiobook site is Loyal Books, a collection of public domain audiobooks, again mostly from LibriVox. What’s important about Loyal Books is that it is very well organized and easy to navigate. Above and beyond that, you can download the audiobooks in a variety of formats, such as MP3, via iTunes Podcasts, as an M4b file, or even through your RSS feed reader. On top of that, the books also have links to their eBook counterparts as one of ePub, HTML, Kindle’s Mobi, or even plain text files. There are a ton of reviews too, which will help you decide what book is for you.
Bonus Free Audiobook Site: Amazon
Yes, you know about Amazon. You know they own Audible, a paid audiobook service, and that they sell a ton of books both in print and electronic format. But a simple search reveals thousands of free audiobooks for your choosing. The best part is that most of them are original content from authors you might not know yet. You might get in on the ground floor of the next big bestselling author! How cool.
Just search on “free audiobooks -audible”. The minus sign in front of the word audible is the key here.