Check Out These Sites For Free Audio Books

Who says story time has to stop when you exit kindergarten? Audio books provide all the stimulation of reading without that annoying reading part. And the internet is full of avenues to get them for free without having to resort to piracy.

MakeUseOf suggests these sites as prime places to download audio books:

BooksShouldBeFree — Classic literature in iTunes and mp3 formats, with Wikipedia links to read up on the authors and titles.

NewFiction — Focuses on new serialized fiction. Actors give dramatic readings, providing a soap opera feel.

ThoughtAudio — Gives you a selection of classics you can download in chunks, as well as PDFs.

LibriVox — A volunteer-led site in which people with a lot of spare time upload audio recordings, providing a selection of public domain books.

Podiobooks — Serialized downloads available via RSS, with more than 400 newer books to choose from, including “chick lit.”

If you’re an audio book fiend, what are your primary sources?

10 Best Websites For Free Audio Books [MakeUseOf via Delicious]

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  1. Kodai says:

    Even better site than all those is… Your local library.

    • domcolosi says:

      Except every time I ask someone to read out loud to me I get thrown out of the library.

    • FigNinja says:

      Yep. My local library has the Overdrive service for ebooks and audio books. The audio books are DRM-free so it’s really easy to play them on any device you want. They also have a service called MyLibrary but I haven’t used it yet. I’m so used to Overdrive.

  2. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    I keep meaning to try audiobooks, but it is currently my job to zone out when someone else is speaking. That and I have never been particularly good at listening to things like lectures or music. There comes a point where it is just background noise. So I would miss half the book. XD

    • somepoet says:

      I listen to them right before bed. I put a couple tracks on my cell phone and lay the phone on my pillow. It is extremely relaxing!

  3. ArcanaJ says:

    This is excellent, thank you! I’ve tried Librevox and the only caveat I would add is that, because they’re free, sometimes the readers can be a little lackluster.

    • Alessar says:

      It’s true. On the other hand, the version of Pride & Prejudice (sans Zombies, alas) was read by a woman who is a professional voice actor. She was fantastic!

    • Redeemed says:

      Check out treasure island too! You learn to look for your favorite readers.

    • philistereo says:

      Wuthering Heights is definitely worth the listen! But the guy who read Last of the Mohicans bothered me with his bizarre pronunciations.

  4. bee8boo8bop8 says:

    I listen to spoken word for my entire work day, so I use a variety of sources.

    -I have an Audible Platinum membership, which gives me two credits a month. They have frequent sales for members where some books go on sale for $5-7, and I usually stock up on a few extras then. I use the Audible app on my iPhone.

    -I have the Audiobooks app, which plays titles from the Librivox library. The app itself is a bit of a pain to use because it downloads the books as you listen so the app takes up progressively more space.

    -I had good luck with the one free audiobook I downloaded from eMusic, but because you can’t get an audiobooks subscription without a music subscription, I have not gotten more.

    -My state’s library system has a downloadable audbiobooks site that allows you to check out up to two audiobooks at a time. I want to like this program, I really do. But I find that the books frequently download badly and, when transferred, are unplayable.

    -I’ve tried ripping audiobooks

    -I subscribe to a whole bunch of podcasts and I download iTunes U courses onto my phone.

    -I’ve been considering buying and downloading one of The Teaching Company’s courses. Has anyone done that?

  5. drburk says:

    What about lit2go. It’s the classics read by professional readers.

  6. human legs says:

    audible.com is pretty good … they have free giveaways every once in a while. right now if you go to audible.com/hulu you can get two free book downloads (just make sure you cancel your account within 30 days or they’ll charge you for a membership).

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      ah damn. I wish I’d seen this earlier. I just re-upped my account and could’ve used the extra credit ;(

  7. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an audio book. I might have to check some of these out.

    • kerrington.steele says:

      if your name is any indication, you might LOVE listening to the Harry Potter series read by Jim Dale. he is truly fabulous.

      • Alexk says:

        Americans seem to be in love with Jim Dale’s version, but I really prefer the English audiobooks, read by Stephen Fry (who did Jeeves and Wooster with Hugh Laurie).

  8. Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

    How can I get a job as one of those readers? I have a two-year-old, so I’m used to “doing the voices” :)

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      Luckily not all of them “do voices” – some just read the book. I prefer those. The ones with silly voices can get really irritating.

    • somepoet says:

      On LibriVox at least, people volunteer to read the books. They aren’t paid.

  9. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    There’s also the whole genre of audio dramas (think old time radio, but with modern casts of actors, sound effects, modern-style plots). Many free podcasts to download and listen to. It’s great for car trips or doing work around the house.

    One of my favorite groups is the Curious Echo Radio Theatre: http://www.curiousecho.org

    Most of these groups also have live performances you can attend – Post-Meridian Radio Players, in Boston, has an annual Halloween show which usually sells out all its performances; Williamette Radio Workshop, out of Portland, does wild things like sound effects for silent films.

    Overall, you should check out Radio Drama Revival http://radiodramarevival.com or the Sonic Society http://www.sonicsociety.org, because both podcasts – which are also syndicated radio shows – play new audios every week – and are freeeee!

  10. Bob LeDrew says:

    Actually, you don’t need “a lot of spare time” to be a LibriVox reader. You can read a chapter of a book, a short story, or a poem in a matter of minutes, do some rudimentary editing in a couple more, and have it uploaded in under an hour.

  11. Bodger says:

    “If you’re an audio book fiend, what are your primary sources?”

    Well, there’s Amazon and there’s the local library and, well, and I refuse to answer on the grounds that . . . .

  12. Red Cat Linux says:

    I’m an audible.com junkie. THey have audio snippets of the books you can try out to see if you like. I think Amazon’s audio downloads are actually Audible, but I find it best to buy direct from Audible.

    And I do like the ‘performances’ more than the ‘readers’. It’s kinda like serial radio from years gone by. The best readers are a treat to listen to. The bad ones can make for a bad audio – read experience. Occasionally you’ll find an author reading their own work, but more often than not they get a professional to do a good job of it.

    Some are a sinlge author doing all the voices, some are two or three, or an ensemble cast of sometimes celebrities. But celebrities don’t always make a good job of it. The abridged version of The Nanny Diaries was read by Julia Roberts. It wasn’t as good as the unabridged version done by a professional reader.

    Takes a different talent I figure.

  13. Dutchess says:

    Ever heard of the public library?

    My library has hundreds of audio books for free. I rent them and burn them for long trips.

    • dpeters11 says:

      Ours also has ebooks. It’s odd though to have to go on a waiting list for a download though. Unfortunately the ebooks aren’t legally compatible with Kindle.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      Ayup.Been through them, along with the DVD collection. They don’t get new material in as often as you’d think.

      And, since it’s a local library we’re talking about, it’s not often at all.

      • Melbelle says:

        With my library, you can request material from other branches, so I search for what I want and just wait till they have it sent over.

  14. Cantras says:

    Does anyone happen to know a brand or style where the speakers speak fairly quickly? My mom used to listen to them in the car and I’m turned off of them because it took 8 hours to do a book I could read in under two. “She. raised. her. gun. and. gestured. with. it… The. perps. split., no. longer. interested.” — My mom’s taste in books there, not mine, but even when I tried to be interested I’d zone out because of the way they talked.

    I don’t need auctioneer speeds, but something like.. Gilmore girls comes to mind. It probably varies reader to reader, but if there’s a brand where that’s house style…

    • bee8boo8bop8 says:

      I play audiobooks on my iPhone, and the iPod player there allows you to play the books at double speed. I assume some other mp3 players also have this functionality.

      • Cantras says:

        hmm. Mine doesn’t, and if my regular-old-itunes can do that I haven’t found it — but they’re still intelligible like that? I’d think your letters like k and t would get kindof lost.

        • bee8boo8bop8 says:

          I find it intelligible if listening to the audiobook is the only thing I’m doing. For multitasking, the normal reading pace is better.

    • silas says:

      Windows Media Player has variable speed,16X plus or minus
      look under now playing,then enhancements

  15. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    My problem with the Podiobooks podcasts is that they reiterate the name, author, who’s reading it at the beginning of EACH ONE. For someone on a weekly basis that’s not so bad, but I have an hour commute and listening to it 5 times is not cool, and editing it is far too much tedium.

  16. philistereo says:

    LibriVox helped me stay sane at a tedious temp job. Eight hours of data entry five days a week became tolerable with The Last of the Mohicans and Wuthering Heights (books I would never have sat down to read otherwise).

  17. Hands says:

    “Audiobook fiend” is an apt description of me. I never listen to music when I exercise because I know me — I’m gonna listen to the same stuff again and again. But audiobooks keep my mind occupied for that one or one and a half hours a day when I’m working out, either in the gym or, more commonly, gone for a long bike ride.

    The library is my primary resource. They have hundreds of books on CD and a monthly newsletter describing what’s new. They also give me free access to Overdrive and Netlibrary. When I see a book I like I get it, format it to 6 minute mp3’s {makes it easier to find my place when the battery inevitably croaks} and keep it on my computer until I’m ready.

    I have about three years worth of books waiting for me and another five years worth I’ve already listened to. One bonus: if I don’t like a book I can replace it immediately with no trouble.

  18. carol says:

    New Fiction has come up with a cool idea – acting instead of reading stories.
    I previewed The Fat Cowboy and can’t wait to subscribe so I can hear the rest of the story. The graphics and audio actors are great and I am looking forward to the battle between the Cowboy and the crazy characters he encounters.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      From what I know of this group, it’s essentially audiodrama, but with a neat new name (and graphics) attached. Most audiodrama groups are independent, and aren’t even aware that there are other people doing the same thing. Check out Sonic Society and Radio Drama Revival to find a lot more in this vein.