5 Sites That Are Like Audible, But Free.
I recently compared Audible alternatives and received several emails from readers asking them to do a similar post on free Audible alternatives. There are a few things you need to understand before we start.
While there are sites that offer audiobooks for free, you should understand that converting books to audiobooks takes a lot of effort. People who do this must put bread on their table. This is a business, and like any other business, you get what you pay for. Writers are creative people who take months, and sometimes years, before a book is published. Most of the new books will not be available on the free domain for obvious reasons, however you can find classics and sometimes a few good audiobooks in the sources listed below.
That doesn’t mean there are ways to get around this, and I’m going to delve deeper into this topic and share a resource where you can find new titles as well. Let’s start.
Read: 8 tips and tricks to save money on Audible
Free audio alternatives
Librivox is a free, open source audiobook platform where you can easily find classics such as War and Peace, Sherlock Holmes and many more. It is a non-profit initiative with over 15,000 audiobooks and they accept donations to help pay for their expenses. Their purpose, in their own words, is well described by their site:
Make all publicly available books available for free in audio format on the Internet.
Public domain books are books that are completely free to download and are no longer copyrighted. Copyright duration varies depending on several factors, but usually copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. So if you’re listening to public domain books, it will probably be old classics like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Pride and Prejudice.
Librivox is a good choice if you enjoy reading the “old but golden” classics that can still be offered to the current generation. The site is run by volunteers, which means the quality of audiobooks will vary greatly.
Bottom line: While Librivox is a great place to find classics for free, it’s still limited compared to some of the other sources I’ve found.
Website | Android | iOS
2. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is a Wikipedia-style site that offers even more public domain audiobooks than Librivox. They have a collection of 56,000 audiobooks.
There are essentially two sections. In the first section, you can read audiobooks read by humans, and in the second, audiobooks are created using a computer program. This is similar to how a bot reads sentences with a mechanical voice.
You can find classics such as Mobidick and The Book of Tea on the site. Although the site is mostly available in English, you can also find some audiobooks in other languages like French, Chinese, Swedish and even some regional languages. Visit the site to see which audiobook is available in which language.
Bottom line: I found Project Gutenberg to be better than Librivox because the collection is larger and they support more international and regional languages.
Overdrive’s strength lies in its ability to provide audiobooks available at your local public library. This is because Overdrive has partnerships with over 30,000 libraries in over 40 countries. Fuh. This means that if you are a member of the public library that is part of Overdrive, you can access all of Overdrive’s audiobooks for free. All you need is your library card. The library is free and the collection is huge.
This also means that you can find and borrow new audiobooks from Overdrive, if your public library has them, and it may be. The site is beautifully designed and you can also download mobile apps for Android and iOS devices.
In addition to classics, you will find new audiobooks such as Flame and Fury, Midnight Children and even Harry Potter. Overdrive comes with a built-in audio player.
Bottom line: Overdrive is a great site for listening to audiobooks. The collection is excellent, the variety is good. All you need is an ID from your local public library that works with Overdrive. It also offers mobile apps, which is a bonus.
Hoopla quickly overtakes Overdrive and how? Unlike Overdrive and the other resources I’ve shared above, which only offer publicly available audiobooks, Hoopla has partnered with some of the biggest names in the industry. They partnered with Ingram, Open Road Integrated Media and other publishers to offer audiobooks to their readers for free.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of audiobooks to choose from if you’re a member of a local library powered by Hoopla Digital. Additionally, Hoopla is available on Android, iOS, Chromecast, Amazon and Apple TV. There are no ads in apps.
Depending on your local library membership, you can receive anywhere from 4 to 15 audiobooks per month. Why do you need a library card? How Hoopla works is that every time you read an audiobook, your local library pays between $ 0.99 and $ 2.99. Hoopla is free for users.
Hoopla is clearly trying to position itself as a source for listening to audiobooks separate from other forms of media.
Bottom line: Hoopla is a great place to explore audiobooks. They have a huge collection, and since they have a way to make money, their collection includes new audiobooks that have not made it to some free service providers.
The reason Storynory made the list is because it’s the only free audiobook resource that’s been specifically designed for kids. Here you will find fairy tales, children’s stories, and original and classic stories.
If you have kids, you should check Storynory at least once. Some of the audiobook titles are 5 Little Ducks, The Brothers Grimm, and 1001 Nights. Although the collection is limited, it will still bring back fond memories of your childhood, if nothing else.
Bottom line: I love Storynory because it’s child-centered and offers a great way for your kids to learn and participate.
Conclusion: Free audio alternatives
There are many other resources where you can find free audiobooks, but these were the ones I loved for their variety, usability, and partnerships.
I liked Hoopla for their professional approach to doing business, while providing free services to members. It’s fun and easy, and in the future I think they’ll have an even bigger library. I liked Storynory simply because it is aimed at children.
Tell us which one are you using and why?
The following video shows tips and tricks for saving money on Audible.