Audiobooks bring together the best of both worlds: The joys of a good story and the convenience of easy listening. They also often serve as a great way to pass time, whether you’re cooking up your favorite dish or out for a long drive. Unfortunately, beaming books into your ears can be pricier than you might expect.
Fortunately, the internet now delivers a trove of audiobooks if you don’t mind forgoing top-notch narrations and sticking mainly with classics. Here are our picks for the best websites to get audiobooks for free. You can also find mobile apps that provide the same service.
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 serialized audiobooks via RSS; just click on any audiobook link to begin streaming or downloading the narration.
Although the collection is rather limited, you can browse by contributing author, genre, award status, release date, and title. The site also allows you to donate to your favorite author directly if you’re so inclined, whether the author’s book falls under the “Hard-Boiled” or “Urban Fantasy” selection.
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 directly. Instead, it’s a delivery platform for your local library or school. That means while the content is essentially “free” to use, there’s a time limit associated with digital media just like any other physical book or disc you borrow. That also means you need a valid library card or school ID to access this content.
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. For the remaining titles, you can place them on hold until they’re ready to borrow.
Once you link OverDrive to your library or school, there are several ways to access the content. The site’s Libby app for mobile targets public libraries while Sora serves audiobooks to students. A Windows 10 app is available too while modern Chromebooks utilize the Android app. Mac owners must default to a browser.