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How I Listen to Audiobooks for FREE

Interested in how to get free audiobooks? I listen to ALL my audiobooks for FREE — and I have for years now! Read this post to learn how!

Psst! Interested in the best audiobooks to listen to? Check out this list of my top 7 favorites!

how to listen to audiobooks for free

It’s no secret that I absolutely love books. And I try to invest at least a little bit of time every single day reading.

But on really full days, fitting in reading time can be a challenge. Which is why I’m so grateful for audiobooks! They are the perfect solution to making reading a priority — even if you aren’t able to physically sit down and read a book.

However, if you buy audiobooks online, they are often quite expensive — typically more than you’d pay for the paperback or hardback copy. Which is why I’m a fan of finding ways to listen to audiobooks for FREE instead.

Crystal Paine reading a book

Why You Shouldn’t Pay for Audiobooks

When I first started listening to audiobooks back in 2016, I did extensive research on the best paid audiobook options.

And while services like Audible offer an extensive selection of audiobooks, a great interface, and the ability to own your books…I just can’t bring myself to pay over $12-$15 per month for ONE audiobook!

Because here’s a secret I’m going to let you in on — you can most likely listen to audiobooks for FREE from your local library!

How to Listen to Audiobooks for Free

Originally, the audiobook apps that libraries used were not very user-friendly and pretty clunky to use. But now that most libraries use the Libby app, I’ve fallen in love with listening to audiobooks from the library!

There are so many different audiobooks to choose from on it and they are all at my favorite price point: FREE! In fact, I’ve figured out that by using the Libby app, I’m probably saving about $100-$150 per month!

how to get free audiobooks with the Libby app
How the Libby App Works:

  1. Download the Libby app and connect it to your local library card.
  2. Search through the app for a book or audiobook you want to check out (you can search by genre, title, author, book format, availability, and more).
  3. Once you find a book you want to “check out”, you either place a hold on it (if it’s not available) or choose to borrow it.
  4. After borrowing a book, you get to keep it in your account for 14 days. After that, it automatically is loaned back to the library for another patron to be able to check out.

One drawback: Many of the popular books have quite a long waiting list, so you might have to wait a bit to get your turn to listen to the audiobook. Also, if you don’t finish listening within 14 days, you won’t be able to pick back up where you left off until you wait on the waiting list again. However, there are many great books that don’t have a long waiting list — or any waiting list at all!

But 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!

listening to a free audiobook on the iPhone

A Few Tips:

These are just a few tips I’ve found to be personally helpful when listening to audiobooks…

  • I try to pick audiobooks that are no more than 8-9 hours in length because that’s a manageable length for me to get through before the audiobook needs to be “returned” to the library.
  • I always listen to the books on 1.25 speed — you can’t tell a difference. And it means that it speeds it up just a little bit.
  • Be sure to listen to a sample ahead of time. Some of the narrators are amazing and some are just annoying to me. I can’t spend 8 hours listening to a voice that annoys me.
  • I’ve found that certain genres are best for listening to. I especially love great biographies and fiction. I’ve found that non-fiction isn’t as enjoyable or beneficial to listen to. I prefer to read those since I’m more of a visual learner and want to make sure I catch every word and have the ability to underline/highlight. Try different genres and figure out which you prefer!

How to Find Time to Listen to Audiobooks

The great thing about audiobooks is that you can often listen to them while your hands are busy or you’re getting something else done!

Here are some pockets of time I use to listen to audiobooks each day:

  • While I’m getting ready in the morning — hair, makeup, cleaning up our room & bathroom.
  • When I’m working in the kitchen — washing dishes, cooking, etc.
  • When I’m driving without the kids — heading out on an errand, to school drop-off, etc.

For me, this adds up to about 30-60 minutes of audiobook listening time per day! And I can easily get through one book in 10-12 days this way!

how to Libby app works

Other Ways to Get Free Audiobooks

If you don’t have access to the Libby app through your local library, here are a few other options:

Larger State Library — 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.

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

Podcasts — One of my readers recommended the Sparkle Stories and StoryNory podcasts. They offer free audiobooks for kids.

Listening to audiobook on iphone

Related Links:

Do you listen to free audiobooks? If so, when you do you find time to listen to them? What are some of your favorites? I’d love to know!

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  • Mel says:

    Thanks for this! I was just thinking about signing up for try me free audible for 30 days. I like that there are other options. I wish the one you like was an option for me however I do not have access to a public library, I live one block from the city line.

    • Carolyn says:

      Not living in the city shouldn’t prevent you from having a library card. I have cards from 2 libraries that are in different counties from where I live. Check libraries in towns you might occasionally go to for shopping, etc., and see if you can get a card through one of them.

    • Emily says:

      I agree with Carolyn. Here in Ohio, anyone in the state can get a card in my county system, and I’ve had cards to other libraries in the past.

    • Anna says:

      In my previous state, a city wanted to charge annually $100 for a card because my parents lived just outside the city lines, in a district with a much smaller library, even though they had a city post-office box. My current state has fairly free access to libraries.

  • Joanna says:

    Lamplighter Theater. Your kiddos will love the audio dramas and so will you. Just got a code today for 10 downloads for $20. Best deal ever! Code: 10for20

  • Jessica says:

    For your kids: So since you are watching Monk now, you probably are a fan of Tony Shalhoub. He has narrated Cricket in Times Square audiobook. My kids love to go to sleep listening to him because his voice is so smooth.

  • Lea says:

    Our library uses a different app – RBDigital – so my suggestion is to check your library’s app before downloading! Many of the apps can be downloaded onto a computer too.


  • Maria Miller says:

    I like listening to non fiction books. It frees up my hands so I can take notes as I listen. I can start and stop and rewind the book as needed to get important points written down. Like you, Crystal, I love that Overdrive is free! So awesome!

    • Have you checked out the Libby App? It’s even BETTER than Overdrive!

      • Colleen says:

        I love the Libby app!! It’s perfect for downloading audiobooks. Sometimes I’m tempted to go the long way when I drive to squeeze in another chapter.
        Don’t be too intimidated by the wait times for books on hold. I’ve had them become available before the expected date.

        • Thanks for that tip on the wait times. I feel like the wait times are so long on a few books I’m waiting for that it will be another few years before I actually get to listen to them! 🙂

  • Sophie says:

    We’ve been using scribd as a family. It’s like $9.99 a month, but my husband, myself, and my kids get to all share the account and listen/read unlimited books. We *love* it and find it worth the money because we are all reading so much more!

  • Kristen says:

    I’d never hear of the Libby app before reading this post! Thank you so much for that great tip. I already downloaded it to my phone, plugged in my library card, and am currently listening to my first audio book through it! I’m a huge fan of podcasts, but haven’t yet gotten into a good routine with audio books. Hopefully that will change now! 🙂

  • Brooke says:

    I listen on the commute to work. 15 minutes there and back gets me about 10 pages/day. I speed that up by having the physical book at the same time when I can. I read the rest of the chapter I started, so I can start fresh on a new chapter the next morning in the car. I also like to have the physical book so I can read on the weekend when I dont commute. One way you forgot to mention getting free audio books was checking the physical CDs out of the library

  • Sarah says:

    I LOVE audio books and listen to them nearly every day. I typically have a 1 1/2 hour slot every afternoon (except Sunday) where I listen to my audio books while working on my sewing projects (I am a professional seamstress). I also sometimes listen to audio biographies (we love the YWAM audos!) with my sister for an hour or so on some mornings.

    I have the Libby app on my iPad, but I haven’t tried it out yet. I’ve been too busy listening to other books, but I’m planning to try it out soon.

    I have accounts on Audible, eStories,, and Kobo. I signed up for a free trial on each of these and once the trial ended, I cancelled my membership, but I get to keep my books, so even if I didn’t get them listened to during the trial period, I can listen to them later. PLUS I’ve found that at least a couple times I year I get sent offers from these places. For example, I just got an offer from Kobo for 90% off my next audio book. That meant I got a 14 hour audio book for under $3. And I’ve gotten offers from eStories for three months of membership for just $.99 a month. If there are books you can’t get for free that you want to listen to, it’s definitely worth signing up for some of the paid subscriptions at least for a trial period and then waiting for deals. 🙂

    By the way, if you are a Swagbucks member, you can get PAID to try out Kobo! You’ll get 250 SB for signing up for the free trial. 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    I love Audiobooks – and regularly rotate between Hoopla and Libby – depending on the book I’m listening to and how long the wait is, since it can vary between the two.

    I’m a fan of using audiobooks when I’m on the treadmill at the gym, I struggle with not getting bored during cardio – music doesn’t always engage me enough, but a good story can.

  • Angela says:

    I am curious which audiobooks you have listened to on Libby. I signed up for it and have it on my phone, but I am not sure which books I would like. I usually read non-fiction and have no clue which fiction books to listen to. Any suggestions?

    • Beth says:

      I have the same question as Angela, what are some suggestions of books to listen to. I’ve got the Libby app, like it, but am overwhelmed by all of the choices. Need to check out the other ones you mentioned, except Librivox, been using that for quite a while for homeschooling. Another good site for older public domain books on audio is Lit2Go,

  • sona bran says:

    I have a Kindle, but not a smart phone. Can I still use Libby?

  • Sarah Davies says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I live in the UK and assumed this wouldn’t work here, but it does – even for our tiny village library 🙂 Currently listening to my 1st book and loving that I am not paying for it! Happy New Year.

  • Paty says:

    Is swagbucks for real? I always feared it may be a scam… Have you tried them and got paid? ^_^

  • Jasmine says:

    Do you have specific audiobooks you recommend on the Libby app. Thanks!

    • If you follow along with my book reviews each week, I share what I’m listening to and my thoughts on them!

    • sona says:

      “Educated” “The Coddling of the American Mind” both nonfiction
      “Where the Crawdads Sing” fiction

      • Linda says:

        Many state libraries are free and have overdrive and Libby. I am bookoholic, audiobooks lessens the guilt about the time spent. Driving, gardening, cooking, housework and while falling asleep are my times. The timer in overdrive is great for bedtime. I seldom watch TV other than the daily news–and sometimes skip that too.

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