Audiobooks Are Expensive! 6 Ways to Listen for Free or Cheap

Audiobooks make reading books so much easier. They allow you to listen to a book while traveling, exercising, and even working. You can no longer complain that you don’t have enough time to read.

But why are audiobooks so expensive?! Quite simply, they aren’t cheap to make. They have high production values and celebrity narrators. Plus they’re really long—the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series would take you more than nine days to listen to.

Fortunately, there are ways you can get your audiobook fix without breaking the bank. Let’s take a look at how to get cheap audiobooks.

1. Check Your Local Library

Your local library is a great place to rent audiobooks. But if you think the only type they have is in a bulky CD case, think again. Many libraries use the OverDrive platform, which allows you to borrow and listen to audiobooks for free.

You don’t even have to visit your library. As long as you’re a member you can download them using the Libby app for iOS and Android.

overdrive rent audio books

Even if all of your local libraries use OverDrive, each one has a different collection within the platform. Therefore, if you have a membership with two or more different library branches, you will be able to attach both profiles to the app.

You can reserve a popular audiobook at both libraries, which can decrease your time spent on the waiting list and also increase the amount of time you have with the book. Even if you check out the same audiobook with more than one library, they should sync to ensure your spot in the book was saved.

rent audio books hoopla

Hoopla is another platform that connects with your local library. Unlike OverDrive, you’re limited to eight audiobooks a month. Hoopla also offers eBooks and video rentals, and the app has a kids’ mode allowing children to listen to audiobooks or watch movies without the need to visit other sites or apps.

2. Use Multiple Audible Promos

Audible (owned by Amazon) is one of the top websites to buy audiobooks—you’ve probably seen the promotions for a free audiobook or free Groupon deals (or heard one of the many podcasts the company sponsors).

What many people don’t know is that these aren’t one-time-only offers. Once your Audible account has been unbilled for at least six months, you should be able to cash in another offer.

audible multiple free trials

If you can’t get a promo to work on your account, just chat with Audible support as they’ll often be able to offer you a deal.

Even if you’re happy to pay the full rate for Audible it’s worth trying to cancel from time to time. This is because they frequently give users a $20 credit to get them to stay.

What’s the best way to use your promo once you’ve got it? Here are the Audible books you should listen to during your free trial.

3. Add-On Narration for Kindle EBooks

When you buy a Kindle book from Amazon, there is sometimes the option to add on Audible narration for an extra cost. Many times, when a publisher promotes an ebook for a discounted price, the add-on Audible narration also reflects a discount.

You won’t find it for all titles—including many of the latest bestsellers—but where it’s available, add-on narration will normally cost less than $3.99.

kindle add-on narration

The best thing is that the Audible narration connects seamlessly with your eBook. So if you start reading on your Kindle then need to switch to the audiobook when you’re in the car, it’ll pick up right where you left off.

4. Listen to Kindle Unlimited Audiobooks

Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99/month and has over one million eBooks to chose from. Thousands of these titles comes with free or inexpensive Audible narration. Look for Kindle Unlimited books that have a little headphone icon next to them, or you can browse the dedicated section for Books with Narration in Kindle Unlimited.

kindle unlimited audiobooks

Beware, though. Kindle Unlimited isn’t for everyone, so it’s probably not worth signing up for the eBook selection alone.

5. Affordable Alternatives to Audible

Audible is built primarily as a subscription service, so you should give it a miss if you only want to pick up the occasional individual title. You can get cheap Audible books from both iTunes and Google Play.

They’re the same recordings, but are usually priced at least 30 percent lower. This brings them closer to the price of the original paperback. And with regular offers there are some real bargains to be had too.

cheap audiobooks itunes google play

If you do want a subscription then the best alternative to Audible is Scribd. This allows you to rent audiobooks, along with eBooks, magazines, and even sheet music, for $8.99/month. Scribd gives you an unlimited number of rentals, and while the choice isn’t quite as large as you get with Audible, it does have a lot of the latest fiction and non-fiction titles.

6. Download Free Audiobooks

Finally, there’s the cheapest option of all—free. You can get free audiobooks from a number of services, including Librivox, OpenCulture, and Lit2Go. Even Spotify has them—just do a search for “audiobooks” to uncover loads of curated playlists.

spotify audiobooks

Most free audiobooks are in the public domain. This means you’ll be limited to classic novels, and the recordings won’t be as slick as those professionally produced by Audible and others.

But don’t let that put you off though, as some of the greatest novels ever written are here. In fact, we’ve handpicked the best free audiobooks you need to hear to get you started.

Get Cheap Audiobooks

The high price tag is the one thing that puts many people off exploring the world of audiobooks. However, as we’ve shown in this article, it is possible to get cheap audiobooks if you’re willing to shop around for deals or explore some of the lesser known services.

Audiobooks also make fantastic gifts. Most services that sell them also make it possible to give them to others. Check out our guide explaining how to gift audiobooks.

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