Even if you’re not a bookworm, you may find listening to an audiobook is the perfect way to pass the time — especially while cooped up due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Following are examples of places where you can (legally) get audiobooks for free. Many of the titles available are classics in the public domain, but there are also options for new releases.
1. Audible Stories
With schools across the country shut down because of the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19, Audible has launched a free Audible Stories service.
Titles are available in six languages, including English, Spanish and Japanese, and are broken down by age, from very young children to teens.
You’ll find a mix of classics, such as “Winnie the Pooh” and “Anne of Green Gables,” along with modern stories like “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (the first in the famous series was renamed “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for U.S. release).
You don’t need an account to listen to Audible Stories, but you can only listen to one book at a time. To pick up a story where you left off, you’ll need to go back to the site using the same device and browser.
OverDrive is one of the free services available at many public libraries. If your library uses OverDrive, you’ll have access to some of the most talked-about books from recent years. Sample titles include “The Hate U Give,” “Pachinko” and “The Goldfinch.”
To use OverDrive, your library must participate in the service. Assuming it does, you’ll just need your library card number to borrow titles. OverDrive also has a Sora app that provides free audiobooks to students at participating schools.
Like OverDrive, Hoopla is a digital media service for library patrons. The service offers a wide selection of fiction and nonfiction books for all ages. Its current popular selections include “Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes” for younger kids, “The Hunger Games” for teens and “Eight Perfect Murders” for adults.
If your library participates with Hoopla, you’ll just use your library card to begin borrowing.
4. Open Culture
At Open Culture, you’ll find links to hundreds of audiobooks that can be downloaded or streamed on your device. These are, by and large, classic works that are in the public domain. They include novels by Jane Austen, plays by Shakespeare and poems by Walt Whitman.
Many of the titles on Open Culture are free streaming titles or free MP3 downloads. Others may direct you to a site like iTunes or YouTube, where you can listen for free.
5. Audible free trial
A regular subscription to Audible will cost you $14.95 a month. That gives you a credit to redeem for one audiobook, and you also get two free Audible Originals, which are programs specially created for the company.
However, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial to get your first month’s books at no cost. Even better, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get two books for your first month. Cancel anytime and keep your titles even after you end the service.
LibroVox is another repository of free books that are in the public domain. While most of the audiobooks here are in English, you can find titles read in a variety of languages, ranging from French and Greek to Yiddish.
You can search for titles based by author, title or reader, but browsing by genre may be the easiest way to explore what’s available. Among the genres are children’s fiction, humorous fiction and dramatic readings. When you find a title you like, download the free file to begin listening.
For more audiobooks from the public domain, head to Lit2Go. It offers MP3 downloads for such novels as “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Around the World in 80 Days.”
One unique feature of Lit2Go is the option to search by readability. It breaks down books according to the Flesch-Kincaid grade levels. As a result, if you’re looking for an easier read, you can download “The Secret Garden,” which is scored at grade 4. Or if you’d like to stretch yourself intellectually, you could try “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which is a grade 12 novel.
You probably already know Spotify is a place to listen to music for free. But do you know it also has free audiobooks? Available titles include “The Great Gatsby,” “Pride and Prejudice” and a selection from Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories.”
Audiobooks on Spotify can be streamed directly from the service’s app.
9. Loyal Books
Loyal Books makes public domain audiobooks free to download or stream. Dozens of genres are represented on the site, and books are available in nearly 30 languages, including English, Russian and Tagalog.
Unlike some other free sites, Loyal Books allows users to rate and review books. The reviews can be helpful in determining which stories have great narrators and whether there are audio issues with a particular download.
For children’s audiobooks, try Storynory. The site separates its selections into original works, fairy tales, classic authors, myths, educational, poems and music. Selections can be streamed from the site or downloaded.
Storynory is free to use but the website is ad-heavy. (When clicking links, be sure you’re selecting the buttons to go to a story and not to an ad.)
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