Audiobooks are a great source of entertainment and information. Needless to say, they’re also appealing to people who would rather listen to content than read it. It’s no surprise then that there are a host of dedicated audiobook apps that let you listen to audiobooks right from your phone.
These audiobook apps make it convent to listen to your latest book while on the go–like out for a long walk or by streaming it from your phone to your car’s speakers. The downside to audiobook apps is that while virtually all audiobook apps are free, their content is not.
Most audiobook apps work on a subscription basis. That is, you pay a monthly subscription and you get to listen to a set amount of audiobooks for free each month. Other audiobook apps work on an ala carte basis: no subscription, but you need to buy each audiobook. The upside to this model is you own that audiobook forever.
But thankfully there are also audiobook apps that are completely free to download and also have a library of content that is free to listen to. You can find our top four picks for these free audiobook apps below
- Our take: Hoopla is the app to get if your local library has a digital lending program (and most do). It allows you to easily borrow audiobooks from your local library right to your phone–no visit required!
- The app’s official description: “Instantly borrow free digital eBooks, audiobooks, movies, music, comics, and TV shows courtesy of your public library. hoopla is the leading all-in-one digital library app, with over 800,000 titles—from best-selling novels and blockbuster movies to niche, hard-to find content, hoopla has something for everyone. Take your library with you on your smart phone or tablet wherever you go. No late fees. Available 24/7. Instantly stream or download for offline reading, watching, and listening. Never lose your place – your borrowed content synchronizes across a wide range of devices.”
- Download: iOS
OverDrive: eBooks & Audiobooks
- Our take: Like Hoopla, OverDrive works on the local library model, allowing you to borrow audiobooks right from your phone. The auto-return feature is really nice so you don’t accrue any late fees.
- The app’s official description: “Borrow eBooks, audiobooks, and streaming video from your library using OverDrive on your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. More than 30,000 libraries worldwide offer titles from OverDrive, so download the app and find your next book today! Available 24/7, now the library comes to you. No more late fees. Titles are automatically returned. Place holds, create wish lists, and return titles easily. Sync libraries, bookmarks, and recent positions across mobile devices. A valid account with a participating library, school, or other institution is required. Each library builds its own collection of titles. Contact them directly to let them know that you’re using OverDrive and to share any suggestions for books you would like to see them carry.”
- Download: iOS
- Our take: This app provides a massive collection of free audiobooks in the public domain, so unlike Hoopla and OverDrive, it doesn’t require a library-borrowing model.
- The app’s official description: “Make reading fun again! Create your own library from thousands of free audiobooks and eBooks. Read reviews from other users and stream audiobooks or download to listen offline. With featured books and top charts you’ll quickly be on your way to enjoying the best free books available. Features: Listen to 7,000+ audiobooks. Read 35,000+ eBooks. Adjustable playback speed. Download for offline use. Book reviews & ratings. Fun ways to discover books. Books in 25+ languages. Find children’s books, fiction, mysteries and more.”
- Download: iOS
LibriVox Audio Books
- Our take: LibriVox also houses a collection of free audiobooks that are in the public domain. And for many of their titles, you can choose between versions, so if you don’t like one narrator’s voice, you can try another’s.
- The app’s official description: “LibriVox Audio Books provides unlimited access to over 50,000 audio books. Each audiobook can be streamed over the internet or downloaded for later use. The LibriVox Audio Books app features classic best sellers and out of print treasures from every genre of literature in more than 30 languages. Audio books from LibriVox are free thanks to the dedicated work of hundreds of volunteers who record, edit and distribute the books. New releases are prepared daily, and the entire catalog spans the breadth of world literature, including novels, history, biography, short stories, poetry and more in both fiction and non-fiction. The LibriVox AudioBook app makes it easy to search the LibriVox catalog of free audio books. You can browse by title, author or genre, look at new recordings, or search by key word. Because the books are free, you can listen to as much or as little of a book as you like with no cost. The app remembers your position, so you can return to a book later, and includes unlimited bookmarks and a sleep timer for your convenience.”
- Download: iOS
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is there an app for free audio books?
Yes! There are several free apps that offer free audiobooks. Here are our top picks:
- Hoopla Digital
- OverDrive: eBooks & Audiobooks
- Loyal Books
- LibriVox Audio Books
Q: Which is the best audiobook app?
Many consider Audible to be the best audiobook app. This is because the app has a slick user interface and all the content you could want. It doesn’t hurt that the app is owned by Amazon either.
Q: What is the best free audiobook app for iPhone?
Our favorite free audiobook app that facilitates borrowing from local libraries is Hoopla Digital. But if you’re looking for the non-library approach, the LibriVox Audio Books app offers tens of thousands of public domain audiobooks you can listen to for free.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.