How to Listen to Audiobooks for Free

Confession: I used to be a snob about audiobooks.

I much prefer a physical book to an audiobook. That’s just how I am wired. And because of my preference, I didn’t consider audiobooks to be “real” reading.

As usual, it took my kids to teach me the error of my ways. At the beginning of 2016, I decided we’d try listening to audiobooks in the car as a way to make good use of our driving time. This turned out to be one of the better ideas I had; my kids ended up falling in love with audiobooks, and surprisingly, I did, too.

When I stared our audiobook experiment, I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money, so I looked into options through our local library. I ended up finding a system that has worked so well for us that we’ve used it for every audiobook we’ve read so far. It’s such an easy (and cheap!) system that I had to share it with you!

How to Listen to Audiobooks for Free

How to Listen to Audiobooks for Free

* denotes Amazon referral link. 

Here’s what you need to listen to audiobooks for free:

Step 1: Head to your device’s app store and download the Libby App

It’s free!

Listen to Audiobooks for Free

Step 2: Connect your library card to the Libby App

When you open Libby, you’ll be asked to find your local library and connect your library card. They make it SUPER easy! “Libby” will guide you step-by-step.

First, find your library:

Read Audibooks for Free

Then connect your card:

Listen to Audiobooks for Free



Step 3: Set your search parameters

Once you click “Enter the Library,” you’ll be able to search your library’s catalog for books. Libby offers both ebooks and audiobooks, so I recommend setting a few search parameters if you’re specifically looking for audiobooks to listen to with your children.

First, you’ll want to click on Preferences. Once you’e there, click Format and change it to Audiobooks.

Listen to Audiobooks for Free

Then, move down to Audience and choose Juvenile. 

Listen to Audiobooks for Free

Finally, click on Availability and select Available Titles.

Listen to Audiobooks for Free

When you apply these preferences, Libby will show you only audiobooks in the juvenile collection available for checkout.

Step 4: Find an awesome book!

Once you’ve set your parameters, you can start looking for books! You can either type a title or author into the search bar, or you can browse an entire collection. I always recommend browsing Juvenile Fiction to get the widest variety of books available.

How to Listen to Audiobooks for Free

Once you find the right book, just hit borrow!

How to Listen to Audiobooks for Free

Step 5: Open your book up and start listening

To listen to the audiobook that you’ve just checked out, just click on Shelf. Then you’ll want to click Open Audiobook and hit the Play button. Your audiobook adventure has begun!

Listen to Audiobooks for Free

What if I’m looking for a particular book?

If there’s a particular book that you want to find in audiobook form, go back to your search preferences and change Availability to Everything. Then search for the specific book. If the book you want is not available to borrow, you’ll be able to place a hold on the title.

What are the drawbacks to finding audiobooks through Libby?

Libby is AWESOME, but it does have some limits. Here are a few of the biggest drawbacks:

  • You are limited to only the titles your library has available.
  • Hold times for certain books can be very long.
  • You only have access to your library book for a prescribed length of time, which is determined by your library. If you don’t finish your book in that time, you may have to check it out again, and may have to wait awhile if others have requested the title.

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Crystal is an activist, feminist, and mom of three. She loves reading, crochet, and enjoying her family and friends. She lives with her family in Indianapolis.

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