I love audiobooks. While I don’t wish for listening to books to replace reading books, I’m a fan of books in all forms. Just like the ebook revolutionized travel with reading material, audiobooks mean we can tune into literature more often. I listen to books while walking, commuting to work, making dinner, and using the elliptical machine at the gym.
Here’s what I don’t like: How expensive audiobooks can be. That’s not to say I don’t support authors and their products (I am an author; I know how many sales it takes for the royalty check to amount to anything), but Amazon has turned Audible into quite the moneymaker. A membership is $14.95 for one book a month; an audiobook from Amazon without an Audible membership ranges from $18-$30 or so. Pricey.
I’ve been tracking down ways to get free (and legal) audiobooks. They’re not the latest titles. Many are classics and so are in the public domain. But those books are still wonderful, still inspiring, and can take on a new life if narrated by a talented reader.
1. Try your local library. You can borrow classic and contemporary books on CD, upload them to a computer and download to a mobile audio player. It’s an extra step, but you can’t beat the price. If you’re in Buncombe County, visit the North Carolina Cardinal system here.
2. If your library doesn’t have what you want, try Overdrive, an online lending resource connected to the public library system. There’s even an app for it.
3. There are many works in the public domain (Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Jane Austen romances) available as full-length recordings through YouTube.
4. And finally, the volunteer-run Librvox offers free, public domain audiobook recordings. The options — there must be thousands — range from children’s books, bibles, and cook books to law books, memoirs, and, of course, fiction.