How Do I Download Audio Books Online for Free?

By Cindy Stokes

Audiobooks usually cost more than the same title in print, but there are ways to listen to audiobooks for free. Multiple websites provide free audiobooks of public domain titles or independent authors. Also, you can get a free download as part of a 30-day trial from leading audiobook services. In addition, you can borrow audiobooks from your library. Then, download the title to your phone and open the file, choosing your preferred player to listen to the book. Or for iPhone, download the title to your computer and drag the file into your music library under the audiobooks category. Alternatively, just stream the audio from your PC.

Books in the Public Domain

"Public domain" book titles are no longer protected by copyright and make up a large percentage of available free audiobooks. In the United States, any work published before 1923 is public domain. Works published after this date follow more complicated rules, but most public domain titles are at least one hundred years old. However, audiobook versions are not free unless they were created for free access. Though the author's work may no longer be protected, the work of the people who record the audiobook is protected.

Audiobooks as Free Samples

If you are willing to start a free trial and remember to cancel before the payments kick in, you can download a free audiobook from Audiobooks.com or Audible.com during the 30-day free trial and still pay nothing in the end (links in Resources).If writing is your thing, start a book blog. Make sure to specialize in audiobooks and also in a specific genre. If you get yourself listed in a directory like The Book Blogger Directory (link in Resources), you could attract authors who are willing to give you a free copy of their audiobook in return for a review.

Audiobooks Through Your Library

Use the OverDrive.com site or the OverDrive app to borrow from your public library -- an active library card is required. First, create your free OverDrive account on the website or in the app. Then, click on "Find Your Library" on the website; click "My Libraries" and then "Add a Library" if you're using the app. Search by library name or ZIP code, select your library and then sign in using your library card number. From there, browse your library's audiobook titles. If you find one you like, press "Borrow" and then "Download." Go to your Bookshelf to click on the title to listen. If a title's not available, select "Hold" to get in line to borrow it.

Websites that Specialize in Free Audiobooks

Librivox.com is a non-profit website with hundreds of public domain audiobooks created by volunteers. You can stream audio, download the audio file, or subscribe to an RSS feed or a podcast of the book via iTunes. Podiobooks.com has titles by non-mainstream authors. You subscribe to an RSS feed of a serialized version of the book, thereby receiving the book in installments. Project Gutenberg has the largest collection of free audiobooks. If there is something you cannot find on Librivox, check the Gutenberg website. However, a good number of Gutenberg's titles are not narrated by humans, but are rather computer-narrated.