What is the best free app for audiobooks?

Audiobooks have grown tremendously in popularity over the past decade. According to The Audio Publishers Association’s latest sales survey, audiobook sales in the U.S. increased by 22.7% in 2020 to $1.3 billion. Many attribute the rise of audiobooks to the convenience of listening on smartphones and advances in digital audio technology. Audiobooks provide an easy way for people to enjoy books while multitasking – exercising, commuting, cooking, etc.

Listening to audiobooks provides many benefits compared to reading print books. Audiobooks can improve literacy and comprehension skills, especially for struggling readers or those learning English as a second language (Benefits of Audiobooks for All Readers). Hearing the text read aloud with proper pronunciation and inflection can aid understanding. Audiobooks are also shown to reduce stress and improve mood, making them a relaxing activity (8 Mental and Physical Benefits of Audiobooks).

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top free apps for listening to audiobooks. With the rising popularity of audiobooks, having access to free resources makes them accessible to everyone.


Librivox is one of the most popular free audiobook apps, offering a large selection of audiobooks read by volunteers from around the world. According to the website Mobile App Daily, “LibriVox has a global community of volunteers that read and record chapters from books that are in the public domain” (source). The app was first launched in 2005 and has since grown to offer thousands of classic audiobook titles for free.

The Librivox app allows you to browse, download, and listen to their catalogue of audiobooks. You can search by author, title, genre, or language. Once you find a book you like, you can stream it or download it for offline listening. The app has features like bookmarks and sleep timers to optimize the listening experience. One downside is the interface is fairly barebones compared to some other audiobook apps.

Since all the audiobooks are recordings by volunteers, the quality can vary. Some listeners find the recordings feel more authentic than professional audiobooks, while others note issues with pronunciation or audio quality in some books. Overall, Librivox offers an unparalleled selection of free classic literature, though the listening experience depends on the skill of the reader.

Loyal Books

Loyal Books is a free audiobook app available for iOS and Android devices. The app gives users access to thousands of free audiobooks and eBooks from the LoyalBooks.com website (Loyal Books). Loyal Books launched in 2004 with the goal of making literature more accessible by offering free public domain audiobooks and ebooks.

The Loyal Books app allows users to browse, stream, and download audiobooks directly on their mobile device. Key features include bookmarking, sleep timer, variable playback speed, table of contents navigation, and the ability to build a personal library. The app offers a clean, easy-to-use interface to search and access Loyal Books’ catalog of over 7,000 free audiobooks. Users mention the app is fast and responsive even over slower connections.

The selection consists entirely of titles in the public domain, including classics by authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Shakespeare. While the app lacks newer releases, the breadth and quality of classic literature make Loyal Books a great destination for free audiobooks.


Spotify is known primarily as a music streaming service, but it has recently ventured into offering audiobooks as well. Users can now browse and listen to a selection of audiobooks within the Spotify app, conveniently alongside their music library and playlists.

As of early 2023, Spotify’s audiobook catalog contains around 300,000 titles covering a variety of genres including fiction, non-fiction, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and more. While the selection is still quite limited compared to dedicated audiobook services, it does include popular titles and bestsellers such as the Harry Potter series, Michelle Obama’s Becoming, and You by Caroline Kepnes. Spotify plans to continue expanding its audiobook offerings over time.

One advantage of using Spotify for audiobooks is the ability to easily switch between listening to music and books on the same platform. The audiobooks integrate right into your existing Spotify library and can be added to playlists alongside songs and podcasts. However, features tailored specifically for audiobooks, like bookmarks and variable playback speeds, are currently limited.

As Spotify audiobooks are included with a regular Spotify Premium subscription, this provides an affordable option for those looking to casually try out audiobooks without committing to a separate audiobook service. But frequent audiobook listeners may find the selection too limited at this stage. Overall, Spotify shows potential as an audiobook option, especially for those already embedded in the Spotify ecosystem.


Overview: Kobo is a popular app for downloading and listening to audiobooks. It has an extensive selection of over 5 million titles across a wide variety of categories.

Features and Usability: The Kobo app provides a seamless listening experience, allowing users to switch between devices easily. It is available on iOS, Android, and desktop. The app has received high ratings and positive reviews for its intuitive interface.

Audiobook Selection: Kobo offers both free classics and premium bestsellers. This review notes its large catalog of audiobook titles that competes well against Audible’s selection. Users praise the variety of categories available.


Downpour is a popular audiobook app available for both iOS and Android devices. The app allows you to access and listen to audiobooks purchased from the Downpour.com website (Downpour.com on the App Store). Downpour has a catalog of over 100,000 audiobook titles across many genres including mysteries, romance, science fiction, classics, and more.

The Downpour app features offline listening so you can download audiobook files directly to your device and listen without an internet connection. The app allows you to create custom playlists, bookmark your place in audiobooks, and has a sleep timer so you can fall asleep listening. Downpour also has variable playback speed options and integration with Audible so you can listen to audiobooks purchased there.

However, Downpour requires purchasing audiobooks from their website first before you can listen through the app, so it does not offer free audiobooks directly. But they frequently run sales and deals making their large audiobook selection very affordable.


Hoopla is a popular free app for accessing audiobooks and other digital content from local libraries. The app allows you to borrow audiobooks, ebooks, movies, music, comics, and TV shows with a valid library card from participating libraries (Source 1). Hoopla partners with thousands of public libraries in the US, Canada, and Australia to provide this digital content for free.

The Hoopla audiobook selection contains over 200,000 titles spanning a variety of genres. Audiobook capability includes playback features like bookmarks, variable speed listening, chapter navigation, and automatic syncing between devices (Source 2). Downloading audiobooks for offline listening is also supported.

To access the library of free audiobooks and other content, users simply enter their library card information in the Hoopla app. Patrons of participating libraries can then borrow a set number of titles per month. This provides access to a substantial selection of audiobooks and entertainment at no cost. For these reasons, Hoopla is considered one of the best free audiobook apps.


Overdrive is an app created by OverDrive, Inc. that allows users to borrow free audiobooks and ebooks from their local library (Overdrive app). Overdrive has integrations with over 30,000 libraries worldwide, providing access to millions of titles that can be borrowed instantly with a library card.

The Overdrive app makes finding and downloading audiobooks from your library easy. The audiobook selection includes bestsellers, new releases, and classics. Once borrowed, audiobooks can be listened to within the app, which includes playback features like sleep timer, bookmarks, and variable speed playback. Overdrive also allows users to download audiobook files for offline playback later.

To start borrowing, users simply need to select their local library and sign in with their library card. From there, they can browse, borrow, and manage loans and holds right within the app. Overdrive’s connection with local libraries means expanded free access to audiobooks for library members.

Comparison & Recommendations

When it comes to selecting the best free audiobook app, there are a few key factors to consider:


Librivox and Loyal Books offer purely free audiobooks, while the others provide limited free content but focus on paid subscriptions. Downpour, Hoopla, and Overdrive work with local libraries for free borrowing. Spotify lacks audiobook-specific features like bookmarks and variable speed playback.


Librivox and Loyal Books have basic, no-frills apps. Kobo and Downpour provide the best listening experience with audio boosting and sleep timers. Spotify and Overdrive have clean, popular interfaces but lack audiobook organization.

Audiobook Selection

Librivox and Loyal Books have thousands of classic audiobooks, while the others have much larger paid catalogs. Hoopla and Overdrive integrate with local libraries for free borrowable audiobooks.


For classics only, Librivox and Loyal Books are best. For modern bestsellers, Kobo and Downpour have the top free trials. To borrow free audiobooks from your local library, try Overdrive or Hoopla. For casual listeners, Spotify provides a limited but easy way to try audiobooks.

The best overall free audiobook app with the widest selection and best features is probably Kobo or Downpour, supplemented by Librivox/Loyal Books for classics. Integrating Overdrive or Hoopla provides additional free borrowing options too. Compare your listening preferences to pick the best free audiobook option for your needs.


In summary, there are some great options for finding free audiobooks without a subscription or membership fee. Sites like Librivox, Loyal Books, Spotify, and Kobo offer free public domain audiobooks. Library apps like Hoopla and Overdrive allow you to borrow audiobooks for free with a library card. While the selection may be more limited than paid services like Audible, you can find plenty of classic literature and modern books to enjoy.

To get the best experience, it’s worth checking out more than one option and experimenting to see which works best for your tastes and your local library system. Many of the options also have apps so you can listen on your phone or tablet conveniently. Finally, keep an eye out for short term offers that temporarily unlock additional free audiobooks as a way to get new listeners.

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