Free Audiobooks!

Hey there, audiobook fans,

I love free and/or heavily discounted things. Love love love them. So much, in fact, that an ex-boyfriend used to call me “Bargain Bin MacBride” because if I see something that’s free, odds are I’m coming home with it. (You got a bunch of ugly refrigerator magnets at some work conference? Yes, I would love to take those off your hands.) Perhaps it makes sense that I gravitated towards a career in libraries–-they’re the OG free factory. (Yeah, ultimately you have to return stuff, but it’s still mostly free!). So this week, I thought it might be nice to review all the ways you can get your hands on (ears on?) free audiobooks.

This week’s newsletter is sponsored by Penguin Random House Audio.

Listen to your book club’s next pick. Visit for suggested listens and for a free audiobook download of The Knockoff!

With fall ramping up, it’s back to juggling busy school and work schedules with social engagements like date nights, yoga with friends, and book club. Luckily, you can listen to your book club’s next pick so you can stay on top of it all.

First up: Your public library:

Most libraries I have encountered use Overdrive. Overdrive’s platform is pretty straightforward, you just download the app or go to the website and create an account using your public library card. After that, you can download to your heart’s content (or, to whatever your library’s limit is—I think my library has a limit of 10.)

Hoopla is another service your library might be able to hook you up with—it’s a streaming service, so you’ll  won’t actually be downloading the books, but if you’ve got an internet connection in your home or office or other boring places where you’d benefit from some story time, it’s definitely worth seeing if your library has access to Hoopla. (Hoopla also offers streaming music and movies, so if your library does subscribe, you’ll have endless hours of entertainment at your disposal.)

Librivox: Librivox is awesome because it offers free audiobooks that are in the public domain, all read by volunteers. It’s kind of like a giant, digital web of audiobook lovers reading their favorite books to each other. Want to volunteer to read one of your favorite books?

Audiobooky websites

Mind Webs is an awesome site that provides “perfectly-executed, haunting old-time radio dramatization of over 150 of the most classic science fiction short stories.” Rioter Nikki wrote about it in this post, and I am so glad she did.

Open Culture: Open Culture is a great site to find audiobooks of the classics and often really neat recordings of authors reading their own work or actors reading famous works of literature. For example, you can listen to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” read by Christopher Walken and/or James Earl Jones. There are plenty of complete audiobooks to choose from, but I’m also very partial to the author-read short stories they have as well. In general, Open Culture is a hub of interesting and informative delights. I subscribe to the newsletter and it’s lovely to not just wake up to BREAKING NEWS: THE WORLD IS 10 SECONDS AWAY FROM ENDING emails, but also have a “hey The Getty just added 77000 images to its open content archive” email. You know, something to look at before we all go up in flames.

Scribl (formerly known as Podiobooks):

Podiobooks has merged with Scribl. You can still get free audiobook content in a serialized (podcast) form (you just have to put up with some ads) as well as ad-free audiobooks you can purchase, based on their crowd pricing system. Here’s the coolest part: every audiobook you purchase comes with the free ebook edition. DREAMS COME TRUE.

If none of the above strike your fancy, check out Rioter Ashley’s post about everything audiobook app-related. She talks about free and subscription services, so you’re almost guaranteed to find one that works for you. (If I am wrong and you still haven’t found an audiobook delivery method that works for you, you can tweet mean things at me at @msmacb).  

New Release of the Week (publisher description in quotes)

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

So I didn’t just pick this because I happen to be visiting Cleveland at the moment and the book is set in Shaker Heights, but that does add to the fun of listening to it right now. But I was interested in this title because Ng’s previous book, Everything I Never Told You, was such a powerful debut. Ng explores similar themes of family and identity here: Mia, a single mother, and her daughter move to the quiet Cleveland suburb. Mia rents a room from Elena Richardson, a steadfast rule follower.

“When old family friends of the Richardson’s attempt to adopt a Chinese American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town – and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.”

Links for Your Ears:

Netflix Hack Day Creates Audiobook Version

Apparently Netflix has a “hack” day where the employees “take a break from everyday work, have fun, experiment with new technologies, and collaborate with new people.” Some genius (I’m not being sarcastic) came up with the idea for an “audiobooks” feature, in which one could click icon while watching a show on Netflix and get narration, as though one is listening to an audiobook of their favorite show. There’s a demo here.

I CANNOT OVERSTATE HOW BADLY I WANT THIS TO BE REAL. It likely never will be, for a million logistical reasons but oh man, I want audiobook Netflix!

Rosario Dawson narrates audiobook for The Martian follow-up Artemis

Count me in.

Kobo takes on Audible with its own audiobook subscription service.


Until next week!