3 Ways to Listen to Audiobooks

I am a huge audiobook fan. Audiobooks help e listen to stories in situations where I can’t read a physical book (e.g., driving, commuting, travelling, etc.), which helps me take in more books. This quick post takes you through 3 ways to listen to audiobooks and my personal digital platform recommendations for each method.

1. Download Free Audiobooks in the Public Domain

When a book is in the public domain it means that it isn’t protected by copyright and can be used for free (check out this post on determining if a book is in the public domain). There are numerous online platforms that crowdsource volunteers to read public domain titles and record them as audiobooks. If you’re interested in listening to a “classic”, then it might be worth checking out one of these platforms to listen to it for free.

My Recommendation: Librivox

A couple of years ago, I wanted to read more classics. Librivox ended up being my go-to platform because the interface was easy to navigate and there were a lot of options. They do have an app now.

  • Free Access to Thousands of Books
  • Instant Downloads
  • Navigable, Minimal Interface
  • No quality filters
  • Quality of reading is highly variable
  • Unlikely to have newly released titles

2. Borrow Audiobooks From Your Library

Years ago, I remember you could check out audiobooks recorded on cassettes and CDs from the library. While these options still exist, many libraries offer the ability to digitally check out audiobooks. Typically, you just need a library card (usually free) to gain access to audiobooks on your digital device (e.g., phone, tablet, etc.). Be sure to check with your local library on how they offer digital audiobook access to patrons.

Check out these posts on obtaining a U.S. library card online for your region or for a fee (useful if you are living outside the U.S.

My Recommendation: Libby by Overdrive

Overdrive is a popular platform to access ebooks and audiobooks via many libraries across the world. They recently rolled out Libby, which is an app specifically designed for public library users. I find Libby app to be more streamlined than Overdrive, especially for finding and listening to audiobooks. I have really enjoyed my listening experience on Libby and I heavily use it.

  • Free access with a library card
  • Can load multiple library cards
  • Can request multiple books at a time
  • Popular titles can have a long waitlist (they do give you a wait period estimate)
  • Your check-out period might not be enough time to finish a book (especially if others are waiting for it)
  • Your library might not have access to titles you’re interested in

3. Buy A Membership to an Audiobook Retailer

Purchasing individual audiobooks can get expensive, especially if you tend to listen to them frequently. There are numerous online platforms that offer a model in which you buy a membership and then you either get a credit that can be used towards purchasing an audiobook or you get a significant percentage off titles.

My Recommendation: Audible

I have been using Audible for almost one year. I found a really good intro offer and then I switched to a Silver membership (not advertised) so I get a credit every other month. This is the perfect amount for me because I also heavily use Libby. I typically buy audiobooks that have a long queue in Libby or would take me longer than two weeks to finish.

  • Instant access to titles
  • Large collection of titles
  • Robust review section for most titles
  • Continual costs might be prohibitive depending on budgets and usage

This post outlined three ways to access audiobooks and offered my personal digital platform recommendations. There is an increasing amount of options and platforms available so it’s worth looking into other options that might suit your needs if the above methods don’t work for you. Nonetheless, I hope this post provided a useful introduction to the world of audiobooks. Happy listening!

Do you listen to audiobooks? What are your go-to methods? Let me know in the comments below!

*The header image is a stock photo



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  • Thank you for the recommendations — i was reading some writing advice yesterday, and the author recommended a balanced diet including a classic every now and then. So, i just downloaded LibriVox!

    I’ve been considering an Audible membership for a while. Do you find yourself listening to much of the Audible-exclusive content?

    And do you know if there are any online libraries out there that lend audiobooks remotely, even if remotely and for a membership fee? (Of course i could just search, but i figured i’d ask you first since you seem to have done some of that research already ;-))

  • Hey Smiti! My mom loves Overdrive. I use it occasionally, but since I prefer to listen to audiobooks in different languages, I find iVoox to be a pretty good app. It also has podcasts, which is nice.

Smiti Nathan

I’m an archaeologist that travels around the world for both work and pleasure. I have a penchant for exploring ancient and modern places and the people, plants, and foods entangled in them. I write about archaeology, travel, and productivity.



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