What is the best app to listen to free audiobooks?

Audiobooks have exploded in popularity over the past decade. An audiobook is a recording of a book that you can listen to instead of reading. According to the Audio Publishers Association (APA), audiobook sales have increased by double digits nearly every year since 2014.

There are several reasons for the rise of audiobooks. Advances in technology have made them more accessible through smartphones, tablets, and smart speakers. People’s longer commutes mean they have more time to listen. Audiobooks also allow people to multi-task or “read” when their eyes are busy. And for some, audiobooks make absorbing information and stories easier than reading words on a page.

Thankfully, with the growth in popularity, there are now many ways to access free audiobooks legally. This article will provide an overview of the best apps and sources for free audiobooks so you can start listening today.


LibriVox is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 with the mission of making free public domain audiobooks available to everyone. The audiobooks on LibriVox are recorded by volunteers from all over the world. Since its founding, LibriVox has produced thousands of free audiobooks across many genres like fiction, non-fiction, poetry and more.

The collection on LibriVox consists entirely of books in the public domain. This means the audiobooks are typically classic literature. You can find works by famous authors like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and others. The quality of the audiobooks can vary since they are recorded by volunteers. Some are excellent while others have lower production quality.

LibriVox has mobile apps for both iOS and Android. The apps make it easy to browse, download, and listen to audiobooks from the LibriVox catalog. You can stream books directly or download them for offline listening. The app allows you to create playlists, bookmark your place in a book, and customize the listening speed. Overall, LibriVox provides an extensive collection of free classic literature audiobooks. The catalog quality is inconsistent but you can often find hidden gems recorded by talented narrators.


OverDrive is an app and online platform that allows users to borrow ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more from their local public library. OverDrive has partnerships with over 43,000 libraries and schools worldwide to provide access to their digital collection. Users can browse, borrow, and listen to audiobooks for free with an active public library card.

OverDrive offers over 2 million digital titles including over 800,000 audiobooks from major publishers. The selection includes new and popular titles along with classics and older works. Audiobooks can be streamed online or downloaded through the OverDrive app for offline use. The quality of the recordings is generally very good.

One advantage of OverDrive is its integration with Kindle devices and apps. Users can send borrowed Kindle ebooks to their Kindle to read. OverDrive also recently launched support for Kobo devices. For audiobooks, the OverDrive app is needed to download and play titles on smartphones and tablets.

The key benefit of OverDrive is free access to audiobooks from public libraries. The collection size and availability will depend on each local library system but users can browse and borrow from their own library’s OverDrive catalog using just their library card.


How to Listen to Free Audiobooks on Overdrive


Hoopla is another top source for accessing free audiobooks due to its integration with public libraries in the US, Canada, Australia, and more. Users can borrow audiobooks and other digital content through their local library’s Hoopla service, using their library card.

Hoopla offers an extensive catalog of over 1000 free audiobooks across a wide variety of genres. The selection includes popular titles from major publishers. Audiobook borrowing limits depend on the local library, but users typically get 5-10 checkouts per month.

The Hoopla app and website are nicely designed and easy to use. Setting up Hoopla with your library card is a breeze. Borrowing and downloading audiobooks only takes a few taps. The app enables online and offline listening with handy features like bookmarks and variable speed playback. For audiobook lovers with a library membership, Hoopla is definitely worth checking out.


Audible is Amazon’s audiobook service that offers access to thousands of audiobooks, original content, and podcasts. While Audible requires a paid membership, there are some free audiobook options available.

With an Audible Plus Catalog membership, you get access to a selection of free audiobooks and exclusive originals. The Plus Catalog provides rotating options of audiobooks across genres that members can download and listen to for free. There are typically hundreds of titles available at any given time.

Audible Channels are another free offering. Channels provide unlimited listening to curated audiobook playlists around themes like motivation, mindfulness, business, and more. While Channels don’t provide complete audiobooks, they offer free access to excerpted highlights.

The Audible app provides a seamless listening experience. Features include variable playback speed, bookmarks, and a sleep timer. You can download titles to listen offline and the Whispersync feature lets you switch between reading an ebook and listening to the audiobook. Audible recommends titles based on your listening history and preferences.

While a paid Audible membership is required to unlock the full library, the Plus Catalog and Channels do provide some free audiobook options for members.


YouTube is a popular platform for finding free audiobooks. There are many classic books in the public domain available as audiobooks on YouTube. Some channels like The Audio Library specialize in offering free audiobooks.

However, the selection of audiobooks on YouTube can be limited compared to dedicated audiobook apps and services. Newer books still under copyright are generally not available. There are also concerns around copyright violations, with some audiobook uploads being unauthorized.

The YouTube app itself is not optimized for long-form audiobook listening. Playback features like bookmarks and variable speed are not built-in. But the app is easy to access and use for more casual audiobook listening.


Spotify offers a growing selection of audiobooks that can be purchased directly in the Spotify app or website. In October 2022, Spotify announced that Premium subscribers would get access to over 150,000 audiobook titles as part of their subscription [1]. This gives Spotify Premium members a huge library of audiobooks to enjoy without any additional costs.

For those without Premium, Spotify still allows you to purchase audiobooks individually. Once purchased, the audiobooks can be listened to in the Spotify app across devices. Useful features for audiobook listening include the ability to adjust playback speed, set sleep timers, and download titles for offline listening. Spotify also includes bookmarks and highlighted clips so you can easily keep track of your place and revisit impactful moments [2].

Apple Books

Apple Books provides a large selection of free audiobooks through its iOS and Mac apps. Users can browse and download free audiobooks directly within the Apple Books app without a subscription.

Some key features of the Apple Books app for audiobooks include:

  • Automatically syncs audiobooks across iOS and Mac devices, so you can pick up where you left off reading or listening on any device
  • Offers playback speed control, allowing you to listen at accelerated speeds up to 3x
  • Lets you create bookmarks and highlights to easily find your place and mark key passages
  • Downloads audiobooks for offline reading or listening
  • Supports Apple Watch, allowing you to listen via Bluetooth headphones or watch speaker

While Apple Books may not have as extensive a catalog as subscription services, it does provide a decent selection of free audiobooks without a monthly fee. And the integration with Apple devices makes it a convenient option for iOS and Mac users looking for free audiobooks.


Kobo is a popular ebook and audiobook provider that offers a selection of free audiobooks to download. According to this resource, Kobo has over 50,000 free audiobooks available. The selection includes classics and popular titles across different genres like mysteries, romance, sci-fi, and more.

To find free audiobooks on Kobo, you can browse by category or search by title or author. Once you find a free audiobook you want, you simply need to click on it and download it through the Kobo app. Downloading and listening to audiobooks via the Kobo app provides a seamless listening experience. The app allows you to adjust narration speed, set bookmarks, and pick up where you left off on multiple devices.

Overall, Kobo is a top choice for finding free audiobooks thanks to its large catalog of free classics and popular titles. The Kobo app also offers a fully-featured audiobook playback experience on smartphones and tablets.


When looking for the best app to listen to free audiobooks, you have several solid options to choose from. Apps like LibriVox, OverDrive, Hoopla, and YouTube offer completely free audiobooks that you can stream or download without paying. Audible and Apple Books also have some limited free content available. While Spotify and Kobo don’t offer audiobooks for free, they do have free trials you can use to access a wide selection of audiobooks.

For the largest catalog of classic books and audiobooks in the public domain, LibriVox is a top choice. OverDrive and Hoopla allow you to borrow free audiobooks from your local library. YouTube has many audiobooks uploaded for free listening. Audible’s collection of free audiobooks is small but has some bestsellers. Apple Books occasionally offers free audiobooks as well.

Overall, LibriVox, OverDrive, and Hoopla are the best apps specifically for free audiobook content. They offer the largest libraries of high quality, completely free audiobooks. YouTube is also a great option, though you’ll have to search for specific book titles rather than browse a full catalog. For occasional free audiobooks mixed in with a paid subscription service, Audible and Apple Books are worth checking out.

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