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

Andy Betts Updated 28-05-2019

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 10 Great Audiobooks to Listen to During Your Free Audible Trial Audible is a great way to listen to audiobooks! Here are some of the best audiobooks to listen to during your free Audible trial. Read More .

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 5 Reasons a Kindle Unlimited Subscription Isn't Worth Your Money A subscription service for Kindle ebooks sounds great, but Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited subscription isn't worth the money. Here's why. Read More , 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 20 of the Best Free Audiobooks You Need to Listen To Don't have time to read books? These free audiobooks allow you to enjoy some of the greatest literature of all time. Read More 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 8 Ways to Give the Gift of Audiobooks This Year Audiobooks make fantastic gifts for book lovers! Here are some of the best ways to gift audiobooks to friends and family. Read More .

Related topics: Audible, Audiobooks, Save Money.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Lee
    July 25, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    If you like christian books, christianaudio.com has 2 big sales per year. 7.99 for most books. They also give away an audio book for free every month. You just have to set up a free account. First month free, 14.95 thereafter for 4 credits. Most newer books cost 3 credits. Recently, I was going to get out for a while because I also get free books at library, but they then offered 2 credits a month for less than 8 bucks, so I went that route for a while. If you stop membership, I am pretty sure you have 150 days to use unused credits. When you are checking out, make sure they charge the correct number of credits, and make sure you have not already purchased the same book before. They always are good about fixing things if you already purchased same book from them before, and if they overcharge your credits. You can't try out the book, and return it later. I give them 2 thumbs up.

  2. Wolfie0827
    June 1, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    You left of a very good choice, a few of the epub readers (FBReader on Android and Calibre on Windows/Linux/MAC for examples) offer text to speach which gives you an audio book.

  3. Craig
    May 28, 2019 at 11:39 pm

    Check out librivox.org. Volunteers read books that are in the public domain. I have listened to many books through the years. Most of the readings are as well done as any commercially produced books. There is no charge.

  4. Gerry
    December 1, 2018 at 12:02 am

    I've recently gotten a few titles from Chirp, another service offering cheap audiobooks. Choices are very limited and their app doesn't have a sleep timer, but I've found some things I like, and the narration is by professionials, unlike Librivox. Also, Audible has recently been offering discounted titles daily, possibly in response to the competition.

  5. Adam
    May 14, 2017 at 5:21 am

    My favorite app for audiobooks is playster, they have all the books audible has, I pay $15/month and I get unlimited access to the full library, I also like them because they have ebooks and music.

  6. Robyn
    April 27, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    TuneIn radio had been one of my favorite apps for years and their premium service has audiobooks!! $7.99/month! And the books are new and current!

  7. Cindy
    March 21, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    I listen to about 8 books a month. I have been renting them from my local library and purchasing them from Audible/Amazon or ITunes. It's just so expensive! I will get a few in a series I can find at my library and then have to buy the ones they decide not to carry. I was actually searching the net to see if there is a National Library or something where you can get a membership and download multiple books per month with just the yearly membership fee. I'd be thrilled to be able to do that!