Last week, I wrote a post about how I’ve fallen in love with audiobooks and my thoughts on the Top 3 Paid Audiobook Services. Today, I’m going to tell you why we decided not to pay for any audiobook services and a variety of creative ways to get audiobooks for free.
Before we talk about the various ways to get audiobooks for free, I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions to determine which platforms/services/apps would work best for you:
- When Will I Listen to Audiobooks? When would be the ideal times for you to listen to audiobooks? Are you planning to listen while you clean, while you work out, while you commute, while you get ready in the morning?
- What Device Will I Use to Listen to Them? Based upon your answers to the above question, would it only work for you to listen to audiobooks on your phone? Or could you listen on a CD player or on your computer?
- What Kinds of Audiobooks Do I Want to Listen To? I’ve found that I prefer listening to audiobooks that I’m okay with not catching every single word and aren’t the kind of books I would want to underline. I’ve also found that long books that kind of intimidate me to read (such as All the Light We Cannot See or Unbroken) work well on audiobook for me — because I might struggle to sit down and read them, but I will enjoy listening to them!
Now that you’ve answered those questions, let’s talk about the best way to get audiobooks for free:
FREE Apps from Your Library: Overdrive, Hoopla, OneClickDigital
Before you look anywhere else, RUN to your library’s website and see what they offer as far as audiobook apps go. Many libraries offer amazing apps like Overdrive, Hoopla, or OneClickDigital — for FREE!
You can download brand-new releases, old classics, and just about everything in between through these apps. You can even download magazines! And did I mention that it’s all FREE??
You just download the app, link it to your library card, and then go in and request which books you’re interested in. If the book isn’t available right away, you can put a hold on it and they’ll send you an email when it’s available.
We. are. in. love.
At the rate Jesse and I are listening to audiobooks right now, we figure that the library is saving us at least $100 to $150 per month in audiobook fees. How crazy is that??
Now, there are a few drawbacks:
There are often a lot of people who have placed holds on books you are interested in. Which means you have to place a hold and wait your turn. It might take a week or two — or up to a few months or more — to get your turn to listen to the audiobook.
If you place a hold, you are at their mercy as to when a book becomes available. Depending upon the app and how new the book is, you might only have a 7 to 14-day window to listen to the audiobook. Also, if you’ve placed lots of holds, a bunch of them might come available all at once. Which means you’ll probably not be able to get through them before you have to “return” them to the library.
They don’t have all the audiobooks. The apps offer a wide selection of audiobooks, but it isn’t as comprehensive as what’s offered through Audible. However, free is free and I’ll take it! So far, I’ve had no problem finding plenty of great listening material… and don’t see that I’ll be having a shortage any time soon! 🙂
You can’t download them indefinitely. Unlike Audible or other paid audiobook services, when you download a book from the library, you only get it for a set period of time and then the download expires. This time period is usually somewhere between 7 and 21 days. Depending upon how new the book is and how many holds there are on it, you may or may not be able to renew it.
Overdrive has adult magazines on their homepage. One thing I was bothered by with Overdrive is that the app has had adult magazines advertised right on the homepage — that you can download for free. I would definitely use caution if you allow a child to use the app because of this. (Update: A few readers said this is not the case with all libraries and you are able to change this in your settings.)
All that said, to have access to hundreds of thousands of audiobooks for FREE is pretty downright amazing. And I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about paying late fines… because a book just expires on the app once your checkout time is up.
Plus, you never even have to make it to the library to check out or return books. You can request and download and “return” books all right from your phone in your living room!
Note: If your library is small and doesn’t offer free audiobook apps, consider checking into other larger libraries in your state. You may be able to get a free library card to another library in your state or area that does offer audiobooks. Or, they may offer a paid library membership to out-of-area residents. If you go through a lot of audiobooks, it may be a much less expensive option to buy a membership than to pay to download individual audiobooks from other sites.
Other Places to Download Audiobooks for FREE
Librivox — This site offers thousands of public domain audiobooks — for free. The audiobooks are read by volunteers so the quality isn’t always as professional as what you can download from the library. However, they are free for anyone to listen to on their computer, iPod or other mobile device, or to burn onto a CD. (Note: One of my readers mentioned in the comments that many of the classics have multiple versions available read by different readers, so try a few different versions to find the reader you like best!)
LoyalBooks — This is another HUGE directory of free audiobooks and ebooks. This site used to be called BooksShouldBeFree. It offers a wide variety of public domain audiobooks.
YouTube — Believe it or not, YouTube offers a number of free audiobooks. Some of these are illegally recorded, others are not. To find an audiobook on YouTube, search for the name of the book + audiobook to see if it pulls it up. There are a different YouTube channels that offer free audiobooks, too, such as Greatest Audiobooks and AudiobooksFree.
Open Culture — This site offers a listing of 700 different audiobooks you can download free. Most of the links are to iTunes downloads or MP3 downloads.
Free Classic Audiobooks — This site offers free audiobook downloads in mp3 and in m4b audiobook format for iTunes and the iPod. It’s a pretty old site, but it looks like they update it with new audiobooks fairly regularly.
Learn Out Loud — This site has a Free Audiobook section where they offer 3,000 different audiobooks for free. There are quite a few good selections to choose from. They list free audiobooks from across the web plus some you can download directly through LearnOutLoud.com.
Podcasts — One of my readers recommended the Sparkle Stories and StoryNory podcasts. They offer free audiobooks for kids.
What are YOUR favorite ways to get audiobooks for free? I’d love to hear!
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