3 Ways to Listen to Audiobooks

I am a huge audiobook fan. Audiobooks help me listen to stories in situations where I can’t read a physical book or e-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 isn’t protected by copyright and it can be used for free (check out this post on determining if a book is in the public domain). Numerous online platforms 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 had many options. They do have an app now.

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

2. Borrow Audiobooks From Your Library

Years ago, you could check out audiobooks recorded on cassettes and CDs from the library. While these options still exist, library patrons can digitally check out audiobooks. You need a library card (usually free) to access 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

Libby, is an app specifically designed for public library users. In addition to audiobooks, you can also check out e-books and magazines. I have really enjoyed my listening experience on Libby and I heavily use it.

Pros:
  • Free access with a library card
  • Can load multiple library cards
  • Can request multiple books at a time
Cons:
  • 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. Numerous online platforms offer a model in which you buy a membership. 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 five years. Initially, I found a good intro offer and then I switched to a Silver membership (not advertised) so I get a credit every other month. I also tend to shop their sales. I typically buy audiobooks with a long queue in Libby or would take me longer than 2-3 weeks to finish.

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

This post outlined three ways to access audiobooks and offered my 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

4 comments

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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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