Free AudioBook Apps

Most of the free audiobooks available through various apps are recordings of Public Domain eBooks available at Project Gutenberg. Many of the free audiobook recordings originate from one of three sources: AudioBooksForFree.com, Verkaro.net or Librivox. There are others, to be sure, but even some of the others rely, to some extent, on these three sources.

It's entirely possible to download free audiobooks, directly, from any of these sources but I've found it far easier to use an iPhone, iPad or Android App. In some cases, these apps draw from more than one source and, in many cases, they also feature new works by emerging authors. The apps, regardless of underlying sources, are almost always better organized, easier to navigate and offer features not found on the source websites.

Audiobook App by Cross Forward Consulting

(iPhone, iPad, iWatch)

Free Audiobooks App

From the Cross Forward Consulting website: "Listen to 5,154 classic audiobooks totally FREE on your iPhone or iPad. In addition to the great free content, we also include a growing collection of premium audiobooks for your enjoyment. These include professionally narrated best sellers and hand-selected classics edited for maximum quality."

The app is free but it is possible to make "in-app" purchases. I upgraded my app to "Plus Unlimited", for example, which opened up some upgraded audiobook choices. The cost was less than $8 and I think I got my money's worth.

Again, most of the books are sourced from Librivox but this Audiobook App also includes a growing collection of premium audiobooks. Most are professionally narrated modern best sellers or classics edited for high quality. One of the most enjoyable audiobooks I've heard in a long time, "The Red House Mystery" by A. A. Milne (the author of Winnie the Pooh), was included in the premium collection.

  • AppleAppStore

Overdrive

(iPhone, iPad, Adroid, Windows)

Overdrive, eBooks, Audiobooks, Movies and Videos from your Library

Overdrive is one of the best reasons I can think of to support your local library. I remember, many years ago, I'd sometimes spend the entire day poking around the library. I'd read a few magazines or newspapers, browse the books, I've even spent a bit of time reading to kids. I've always loved libraries and, these days, libraries are extending their reach through digital delivery that goes beyond simply borrowing books.

The Overdrive App allows card carrying library users to borrow eBooks, Audiobooks, videos and more. True, you need a library card and your local library needs to offer the service but if those criterea are met then the Overdrive App is something you don't want to miss.

Overdrive is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Chromebook, Windows Phone, Windows 8, Kindle Fire HD, and NOOK HD/HD+.

  • AppleAppStore
  • WindowsApp
  • AndroidAp

ZBS

Mystery, Humor and Adventure

ZBS Audio Stories for the Soul - Mystery, Humor and Adventure

Okay, these aren't free audiobooks, far from it, if you buy the MP3 files directly from ZBS you'll spend between $20 and $30 for each one but, believe me, they're worth it. The ZBS offerings aren't simply audiobooks, they're dramatic productions featuring several actors portraying a wide range of characters. Many of the productions are, however, available through Audible.com for less money. For example, the very first ZBS offering I experienced was "The Fourth Tower of Inverness".

In 1993 I spent the month of April in the Prince William Sound working a Herring Fishery (Roe on Kelp) on a friend's boat. Every evening the guys working with us, on a Seine boat, would wander out on their back deck and play brass jazz, 2 horns and a sax; it was great. After their extemporaneous evening concert Mark and I would listen to a bit of "The Fourth Tower of Inverness". The star of the show is a guy named Jack Flanders whose business card reads "What appears to be coming at you is coming from you". A sentiment well worth contemplating.

"The Fourth Tower of Inverness" was the first of many adventures for Jack Flanders and, while I can't say I've heard them all, I've been fortunate enough to have heard most of them. If your interested you can find them all on Audible.com under the heading Jack Flanders.

Librivox

(iPhone, iPad, Android)

Librivox Free Audiobook App

As mentioned above, Librivox, thanks to a prolific and dedicated group of volunteers, is the primary source of the vast majority of free audiobooks offered through many of the other free audiobook apps. Whereas navigating their website in search of a good book, of which they have thousands, can be a bit daunting, not so with their app.

The LibriVox Audio Books app makes it easy to search the LibriVox catalog of free audio books. You can browse by title, author or genre, look at new books, or search for specific key words. 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 when you return to a book later, you can start listening at the place where you left off.

In addition, the LibriVox Audio Books app for Android also includes the option to purchase audio books that are not in the public domain and remain under copyright.

  • AppleAppStore
  • AndroidApp

Public Domain

And What it Means to You

Public Domain

Public domain works are not restricted by copyright and do not require a license or fee to use. Public Domain status allows the user unrestricted access. There are three main categories of public domain works: works that automatically enter the public domain upon creation, because they are not copyrightable, works that have been assigned to the public domain by their creators and works that have entered the public domain because the copyright on them has expired.

Most of the free audiobooks available via the apps listed above fall into the last two categories, meaning their copyright has expired or they've been assigned to Public Domain by their creators. Copyright law, like most laws passed by our illustrious Congress, is ridiculously complex but, in general, most of the expired works, with some exceptions, were published prior to 1923.

The free audiobooks offered by Librivox, Verkaro.net and AudioBooksForFree.com exist in the Public Domain and this means that you, the user, can do with them as you like. If you decide to share them, go ahead.