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Finding the Perfect Free Audiobook Site

Put down the paperback and turn up the volume

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January 31, 2013 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Put down the paperback, and turn up the volume. With thousands of free audiobooks available online, the choice of which website to use can be daunting. Vox makes it easy to find the source that suits your reading habits. All you have to worry about is which title to click.

Site: LibriVox
Need to know: The goal of LibriVox, a nonprofit, is to make all public domain books available in audio format for free — that means users can expect a lot of classics and equally old but lesser-known reads. Volunteers record chapters for free, and there’s no auditioning process. The bad news is that your reader might have a voice that sounds like sandpaper. But the good news is you can record a book, contribute to the project and feel famous for like a minute.
Number of books: 5,539
Downloadable: Yes
File types: MP3 and OGG
Languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Italian and 40 other translations available for select titles
User friendliness: Thumbs up

Site: Books Should Be Free
Need to know: All books are public domain, but the site makes it easy to find what you’re looking for with titles divided into nearly 50 genres, from high-brow philosophy to oddly specific stories about the sea. Choose to stream the audiobook online or download a chapter as you go. The Books Should Be Free website is more visual and easier to navigate than its competitors. Users can also write reviews to help you decide if it’s worth a listen.
Number of books: 3,000
Downloadable: Yes
File type: MP3, M4B, podcasts
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian and 25 others
User friendliness: Thumbs up

Site: PodioBooks
Need to know: Think of Podio’s books as a series of podcasts sent to your RSS feed. It’s easy to keep up with your required or desired reading, but choices are limited to hopeful authors who use the site to gain exposure. There are even some National Novel Writing Month works available. Browse by author, release date, genre, title and awards.
Number of books: 629
Downloadable: No
File type: RSS feed
Languages: English
User friendliness: Thumbs sideways

Site: AudioBooksForFree
Need to know: Like other sites in this guide, AudioBooksForFree has thousands of titles to choose from, and most are public domain classics. One feature that sets AudioBooksForFree apart is the fact that you can browse by narrator. Choose if you prefer a male or female voice. The site also offers a few alternatives to books if you’re in the mood for poetry or jokes.
Number of books: More than 2,500
Downloadable: Yes
File type: MP3
Languages: English
User friendliness: Thumbs sideways

Site: Project Gutenberg Audio Books Project
Need to know: Most of the audiobooks within Project Gutenberg’s collection are culled from LibriVox, though Gutenberg does separate human-read books from computer-generated ones. So if you’d like a robot to tell you stories, you know where to go.
Number of books: More than 40,000
Downloadable: Yes
File type: MP3, OGG, Speex or through iTunes
Languages: English and 61 others
User friendliness: Thumbs sideways

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