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Listening to an audiobook is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to finish a book in these busy modern times. Unfortunately, not everyone has the spare cash to purchase an audiobook or even a monthly subscription. Even if you do, wouldn’t you like to save a bit more of your hard-earned money?
Luckily, there are many ways to access your favorite audiobooks through inexpensive websites. You can even listen for free through platforms that only require a library card, a student Gmail account, or just a computer! Though subscriptions with top-option websites like Audible are among the best when it comes to spoken audio content, these cheaper alternatives aren’t so bad either. Read on to learn more!
How do I listen to Audible books without Audible?
Audible offers two monthly subscription options to choose from. For the $14.95 Audible Premium Plus plan, you can stream any of their audiobooks, plus buy and keep at least 1 audiobook forever. For half that price, there is also the Audible Plus plan, which gives you access to select libraries until your subscription ends.
Even with those options, subscribing to Audible isn’t cheap. There are much cheaper alternatives out there for half the price of the cheaper $7.95 Audible Plus subscription. There are sites like Chirp, which offers its services for a range of $0.99-$3.99, AudiobooksNow, with a membership fee of $4.99 and discount offers of up to 35-40%, and Scribd, which offers unlimited listening for only $9.99 a month.
If you’re not looking to spend any money at all, don’t worry! There are hundreds of audiobooks out there that you can stream or download for free because they are in the public domain. Public domain means that the literary piece belongs to the public, as the copyright to the work has already expired. Websites like Project Gutenberg, Librivox, and Loyal Books offer thousands of classic works of public domain literature recorded into audio by volunteers. These are not only legal, but also very much free for anyone to listen to and enjoy.
Your local library also offers audiobooks free of charge. Overdrive’s award-winning reading applications, Libby and Sora, don’t just offer old public domain audiobooks, but also some of the newest and most popular titles available today.
What are some affordable alternatives to Audible?
There are several websites that provide affordable audiobooks that are equally as good as those found in Audible. Below, we listed those with the best deals just for you!
Chirp is one of the best platforms for providing affordable prices on popular audiobooks. It features discounts of up to 95% off of an otherwise $20+ audiobook. With Chirp, it is not uncommon to find time-limited steals that range from only $0.99-$3.99. However, that’s not the only thing to rave about because, unlike other platforms, Chirp doesn’t require any monthly subscription fees. Once you purchase a book, it’s yours to keep!
To get started, simply sign up for free. You will be asked about the kinds of books you prefer and Chirp will send you personalized emails regarding the best deals on titles you might like. You can stream your audiobooks via the site or listen offline with the free Chirp app available for iOS or Android. One thing to note is that Chirp is only available for listeners in Canada and the U.S.
If you’re a reader somewhere else in the world and you love to listen to audiobooks, consider the Club Pricing Plan by AudiobooksNow to spend less the more you buy.
This other cheap alternative offers a membership fee of only $4.99. This membership fee also comes with big discounts: 50% off your first audiobook purchase per month and 35-40% off every purchase after that.
Even if you’re not much of a reader, AudiobooksNow also offers deals at everyday low prices. You can find limited-time discounts that range anywhere from $2.99 – $8.99.
You can stream your purchases on their website or download them via their free app on Google Play or the App Store.
A competitive alternative to Audible’s Premium Plus plan, Scribd offers a $9.99 all-you-can-listen (or read) monthly subscription plan. With access to thousands of audiobooks, e-books, magazines, newspapers, and articles, this is a great option for those who like to explore different storytelling formats.
Although its library is not as extensive as the Audible collection, Scribd offers competitive titles that include some of the latest fiction and non-fiction works. Furthermore, in comparison to Audible’s $14.95 plan for only one audiobook, Scribd lets you listen as much as you want for a much lower monthly fee.
As with any other subscription, you can choose a 30-day free trial with Scribd. Use their services on a website browser, or with their free apps on both iOS and Android. It is easy to navigate and can be used on up to four mobile devices.
Getting free audiobooks from the public domain
If you’re looking to listen to classic books or novels, these are the options for you. Below are some of the top sites for audiobooks in the public domain, completely free and easy to use.
When it comes to public domain books, Project Gutenberg is the best-known destination on the market. At zero cost to readers, you can find a massive collection of classic literature audiobooks that are well worth the download. While English is the primary language on the site, you can browse their assortment of audiobooks and e-books in 67 other languages, including Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, Spanish, and Russian, just to name a few.
Project Gutenberg has two types of audiobook categories to choose from: computer-generated and the (much higher quality) human-read ones. You can also stream a file directly on the site, or right-click to download it in different supported formats (MP3, AAC, and OGG, etc.).
What makes this site so convenient is that you don’t need to pay a fee, register for an account, or download any special application to use it. If you have a computer or any other mobile device, you can enjoy classic audiobooks at no cost.
Another money-saving favorite is Librivox, a volunteer-driven, non-profit project that offers a wide selection of free audiobooks. All audio available here are texts from public domain literature, read by willing volunteers, available in different languages, and completely free to use for whatever purpose. If you love the classics or just dig old books, in general, Librivox is a great cost-free option for you.
Remember that these audiobooks are read by international volunteers, rather than professionals, so expect a mix of different accents and narrative skills. This is in no way something to be discouraged by. In fact, it is a rather unique element that makes the whole experience with Librivox quite unique.
Today, Librivox has over 16,000 titles available to download as MP3 or OGG files. To listen, use any audio player on your mobile device or computer. Of course, Librivox also has a free-to-download app for either iOS or Android.
If you found the previous two sites a bit text-heavy, Loyal Books may be the right one for you! With its easy-to-use website and visual layouts, browsing for audiobooks here is not only engaging, but also accessible to those with vision disabilities. It even allows readers to share their thoughts and experience with review sections beneath each book.
The site offers a selection of 7,000 public domain titles from a wide variety of different genres. Although a majority of these are recorded by Librivox, Loyal Books focuses on delivering these free audiobooks in a fun and more appealing way.
Unlike the previous sites, Project Gutenberg or Librivox, this option features ads on their websites. If that’s something you don’t mind, definitely give this site a try!
You can start listening with Loyal Books by streaming on their website or downloading files through MP3 or iTunes. They also have a free-to-download app for both iOS and Android.
Use your local library to get free audiobooks
Nowadays, you don’t need to visit to your local library to rent your favorite titles. This convenient service is all thanks to a digital platform called Overdrive.
Across 94 countries, more than 76,000 libraries and schools allow readers to borrow audiobooks, e-books, and other digital media through the Overdrive platform. It’s simple and costs you nothing… all you need is a library card!
Listening with Overdrive is simple. When signing up, it will ask for some basic information, like your email address and your library card number. After that, you can connect to your local library by either browsing through a list or searching by name, city, or ZIP code.
You can look up audiobooks by title or author, or you can browse by different categories, such as most popular, fiction, non-fiction, mystery, or romance. Unlike public domain sites, which mainly offer old classics, you can access many of today’s most popular works and bestsellers with Overdrive. This is because Overdrive works with five major publishers, including Macmillan, Penguin, and Hachette.
You should be aware that digital copies available from the library are limited to a certain number, so you may have to wait for them to be available to borrow. Most libraries won’t tell you how long the wait is, but you can choose to be notified through email whenever it does become available
The selection of titles also changes based on your location. Depending on which library you are connected to, you may or may not have access to every audiobook you desire. Despite this, Overdrive still offers a much wider selection than similar services, as it has more than 2 million titles to choose from!
If you like to stream or listen on your desktop or computer, Overdrive is the way to go. However, if you are more of an on-the-go, mobile device type person, Overdrive’s Libby or Sora may be a better fit for you.
Libby, by Overdrive
Overdrive’s award-winning app Libby makes listening (and reading) on mobile devices much more convenient. Unlike Overdrive, Libby offers a much more user-friendly way to check out the same selection of titles. The digital browsing experience here is attractive, fresh, and simple, making it the perfect site for beginners.
Libby is relatively new, so it doesn’t have all the features of the classic Overdrive site (like recommending titles to purchase) just yet. It does, however, automatically download your holds for you the moment they become available. This is a bonus for many users because, in Overdrive, you have to check out an audiobook from the system before it becomes unavailable.
If you already have an Overdrive account, you don’t have to create a new one to sign up with Libby. Libby not only uses the same login details as your Overdrive account, but also syncs your current reads, bookmarks, and wishlists. This is very convenient if you listen or read on both your desktop and mobile device.
Experience Libby by downloading its free app on either Google Play or the App Store.
Sora, by Overdrive
If you’re a student, you can use your school account information instead of a library card to gain access to free audiobooks. Sora is another award-winning app by Overdrive that is specifically designed around the reading experience of a modern student, both inside and outside school.
Like Libby, Sora is a user-friendly app for your mobile device. It also grants users access to a large catalog of audiobooks, e-books, and other academic and non-academic resources, a collection that is made even larger by connecting to public libraries. The app is simple and straightforward to use; browse the Explore Tab to start listening or go to your Shelf to pick up right where you left off.
Learning and listening with Sora is simple. Just download the app on your iOS or Android device and sign up using your student Gmail account—for free!
A Final Word
There is a wide and wonderful world out there for free and inexpensive audiobooks. Whether you’re looking for the old classics, brand-new bestsellers, or just cheaper deals, it’s all about finding the right site for you.