How to listen to Audible audiobooks for free, without a membership

How to listen to Audible audiobooks for free, without a membership

Last week, I was talking to someone about books (if I had a nickel…). About Pride and Prejudice, specifically. This reader loved Pride and Prejudice. He’d been putting it off for years, much to the dismay of his wife, who’s in grad school for literature. But before he set out on a long road trip, he chose the Audible edition narrated by Rosamund Pike as his driving companion.

I love Pride and Prejudice, and I’ve read it at least half a dozen times. But I’ve never heard Rosamund Pike’s complete version. This reader’s raves about her fantastic narration—and especially, her perfect accents for Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins—had me firing up my computer to order that version for myself immediately. I have piles of Audible credits saved up; I was ready to use one.

But I didn’t have to.

I discovered that that audiobook—along with more than 40 other titles—is available to stream for Amazon Prime members through Audible’s new Audible Channels feature. For FREE.

Channels debuted in the fall, but when Audible announced it, I didn’t think I cared. And then this week I realized Channels has one feature I care very much about, and that is free streaming audiobooks —full-length audiobooks from best sellers, family favorites, celebrity-narrated classics, and more.

And these aren’t throwaway freebies—these are truly terrific titles.

(I’m going to try and restrain myself from dumping commentary on every single book here as I give you a quick tour of what you could be streaming for free.)

A few examples from the Editors’ Choice category:

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (this has been on my list since a What Should I Read Next listener recommended it in Episode 62!)
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Have I told you about the time I was riding on an NYC bus and the woman across the aisle missed her stop because she was so absorbed in this novel? Yeah.
Watership Down by Richard Adams. I enjoyed this narration last year.
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. Kubica’s a pro; this is her best.
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Read it.

In the Celebrity Voices/Classic Stories category:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, narrated by Rosamund Pike
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, narrated by Scarlett Johansson
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, narrated by Elijah Wood
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, narrated by Kenneth Branagh
Bram Stoker’s Dracula, narrated by Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, and a full cast

A few Better Than the Movie audiobooks:

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup

From the Truly Criminal category:

Columbine by Dave Cullen. High on my TBR because everyone says read it.
Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale

And a few more:

Stitches by Anne Lamott. Love her.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. The audio edition is sooo good!
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. This Peter Dennis narration is the best.
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

The details:

Repeating for emphasis: Prime members can stream these titles for free, but you can’t download them (unless you buy them, of course). These are the books to listen to while you do the dishes or fold laundry, not while you go for a run or drive carpool.

Audible Channels is a completely free feature for Amazon Prime members. You don’t need to do anything to access this feature except download the app. (Make sure you’re running the most recent version of the app. I had to update my iPhone app before I could access Channels. At this time, Channels is available in the Audible app for Android, iOS, Windows 10, and Fire tablets.)

If you’ve never tried Prime before, you start a 30-Day Free Trial. You have access to Audible Channels during your trial period. Shop Amazon – If you want to become a Prime member, start here. If you’re a student, you can get 50% off your Prime membership.

If Prime isn’t for you, next week I’m sharing how to purchase Audible audiobooks not quite for free, but for cheap, and without a membership.

Do you use Audible Channels? I’d love to hear what features you use, and how. And of course I’d love to hear your experience with any of the audiobooks on this list! Please tell us all about them in comments.

P.S. The beginner’s great big guide to audiobooks, and 10 engaging audiobooks read by their authors. Check out all audiobook posts on Modern Mrs Darcy right here.

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112 comments

  1. Shannon Dunn says:

    Pride and Prejudice by Rosamund Pike? I’ve never listened to Audiobooks, yet I’ve heard of this one. And I simply had no idea Prime was offering . . . So, so good to know. Thank you! 🌸

  2. Kristin F. says:

    Definitely read Columbine — it was a 5 star listen for me (via Audible Channels!) and I adore that version of P&P. I had never read it before last year and I purchased the audible version for a road trip. So worth the wait!

  3. Laura says:

    This was my favorite discovery of the fall! There are so many good titles offered. I hadn’t noticed the family channel though- thanks for pointing it out!

  4. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for this information! I had glanced over that new feature for Prime. Thank you for directing back to it! Love it! You are amazing!

  5. Meg Evans says:

    Okay, this may be the tipping point for audiobooks and me. My husband recently questioned our Amazon Prime membership–like “do we really need it?”–so now I’m looking for ways to utilize Prime beyond the two-day shipping. Streaming audiobooks, here I come. And thank you for the great recommendations!

  6. Lori McKee says:

    I think I can get free audio books thru my library (Overdrive/Download Destination), too, but I haven’t tried it yet. Not sure if it uses Audible or what.

      • Lori McKee says:

        I use it for ebooks ALL THE TIME. Absolutely love downloading a new book in the middle of the night from my comfy bed.

        I have used up my limit of “recommends” (for books my library doesn’t carry in ebook format – there have been a few!!) a couple times already … it must expire after a bit? Or maybe when they buy one, I get to suggest another one? It’s all so easy in the app so I’m not sure what happens behind the scenes. Still don’t understand why there has to be a limit. I recommend GOOD STUFF! Mostly from MMD!! I talked to a librarian in person about this once and she said they have “library professionals” picking out the books and there is a budget, of course. Alrighty, then. 🙂

  7. Sarah Smith says:

    This is a fantastic article with some valuable information! I’ve been a Prime member for years, and had no idea they had started the Audible Channels last fall. Between your list and the peek I just took at the options – OH.MY.GOODNESS.!! Thank you so much for posting this! (I love how it started too – Rosamund Pike and Pride and Prejudice? YES PLEASE!

  8. Thanks for this reminder. I downloaded the Audible app to my phone for the specific purpose of listening to Channels, but I guess I missed the memo on the free audio books. Yes! I’m finishing up Gaiman’s American Gods now. I’ve been wanting to read Silver Linings Playbook. Maybe I’ll listen to that next. Awesome!

  9. Charlene says:

    I cannot figure it out? I have the Audible app and Amazon Prime, and I can see the channels, but I cannot figure out how to search for or stream specific books?

    • Terry says:

      You have to go to settings and sign out of your Audible account, then sign back in with your Amazon account in order to see the Amazon Prime channel. At least this worked for me!

      • Anne says:

        I didn’t need to sign out (but I AM signed in to Amazon elsewhere on my device, for the kindle app). However, I did need to update the app to the latest IOS version before I could see Channels.

  10. Lisa Sanders says:

    I can’t believe more people don’t already get unlimited books and audiobooks…from the library! I use the Overdrive app in combination with my local library branch and always have an abundance of great books to listen to completely free of charge!

    • S says:

      I use and love Overdrive as well to listen to and read for free (I am a huge library user of physical books too). I can’t imagine spending a lot of $$ on audio books when I can access them for free very easily! But I am also a Prime member so will check out this venue as well!

  11. Mary says:

    I’ve been wondering if there’s a way to pause/come back to books via Channels– since it’s streaming, will it save your place? Or will you have to remember where you left off and skip to that every time you pick it back up?

  12. Andrea says:

    I don’t know if this is true for all public libraries, but I “check out” audiobooks via an app called OverDrive that you can link you library acct to.

  13. Katie says:

    I have Amazon Prime and the books side is wonderful! They let you pick a new book each month usually before it becomes available. The audiobooks was new to me I will have to check that out, thanks for the post Anne! Prime has a lot of wonderful features if you take the time to look! =)

  14. Jana says:

    If this is an app, does this mean it only works on devices, like smart phones and tablets?

    I only have a laptop. Does this mean too bad, so sad for me and others in my situation?

    Anyone know??

        • Lori McKee says:

          ” Note:Audible Channels for Prime and Prime-exclusive audiobooks can only be accessed on the newest versions of the Audible app (iOS version 2.15+, Android app 2.8+, and Windows 10 app version 10.4.20+), or 5th and 6th Generation Fire Tablets (Fire 7″, Fire HD 8″, and Fire HD 10″) “

  15. Sarah says:

    Um, this. is. awesome. I had no idea! Turns out, I just hadn’t scrolled all the way down in the app past the regular channels! Ha! Didn’t even know there were audioBOOK channels! YAY and THANKS!!

  16. Samantha says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I had no idea it was part of my Prime Membership. I’m very excited to have so much available to me.

  17. Kim says:

    I am a Prime Member and was unaware of this feature. Thank you, thank you for sharing your knowledge! Have already started with your recommendation of Pride and Prejudice.

    • Terry says:

      No, as long as you have the Prime member email and password you can sign in on the audible app and get the Amazon Prime channel.

      • Lori McKee says:

        I bet this applies for Prime video, too, right? That’s been frustrating to me but that’s a pretty obvious workaround.

  18. Susan says:

    I am so excited to learn this. I’ve been a Prime member for a while but didn’t realize this was a feature. Thanks for sharing!

    • Anne says:

      Make sure you have the latest update installed (I had to update my phone, because I’d been postponing the new software update, and then update the audible app). Then in the Audible app, tap on “featured,” and then scroll down to the “audiobook channels” section.

  19. Mamalion says:

    I appreciate the info- I’m a Prime member, but don’t pay for Audible since I have Overdrive from the library. But I have tried unsuccessfully to stream books this morning, and furthermore, found this information:

    Can I stream my audiobooks off of the Audible app?

    The Audible app does not support the ability to stream your audiobooks. To listen to your audiobooks, you will need to download them to your device.

    From this page: http://audible.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4814/~/can-i-stream-my-audiobooks-off-of-the-audible-app%3F

    So I’m a little flummoxed right now. It appears you can only stream from a laptop then? But I don’t see where you can stream at all, unless you’ve purchased the book to begin with. Any suggestions? Or even step-by-step instructions? ;-P

      • Lori N says:

        That is, for the books free on Audible Channels. If play a book you have purchased through Audible, the app does download the book. It can be deleted from your phone when you are finished listening.

    • Twila Davis Reed says:

      In the Audible app, you have to go to the main menu and choose Channels. Those are the books and podcasts that will stream. Within Channels, there are a ton of different categories and the titles will change over time. Hope that helps. Enjoy!

  20. Vanessa says:

    We discovered this when Amazon sent us an email last fall and I was really excited. However, I haven’t actually remebered to use it and was not sure of which books to try. Thanks for your recommendations and this reminder! Amazon Prime just gets better and better (for our family)! 🙂

  21. Kerri says:

    I just went on our Amazon Prime acct to look around and see that there is also a “borrow a book” option from the Kindle store, where you can borrow one adult’s book and one kid’s book per month for free. Who knew?! [We are in the UK so I don’t know if the US Amazon has it too?]

  22. Jackie says:

    I use Overdrive my from library for free. Sometimes I have to put a book on hold but I get an email alerting me when it’s available. I can listen to it for 21 days and I can borrow up to 5 titles at one time.

  23. Erin says:

    How do you get to the audible channels? I’ve had prime for years and do not take advantage of anything other than the shipping. I need to get on it!! Thanks for the help!

  24. Amy Reasoner says:

    My husband and I share a prime account for the free shipping, but he is the primary account holder. Do you have any idea if we can both get audiobooks, or just him?

    Also, I’m so excited for your next post about how to score cheap audiobooks. We are moving across state lines in a couple weeks, and I ALWAYS have something to listen to on a road trip, and having to close out my library account before we leave is killing me. I need to buy a few good audiobooks to make it in the car on moving day.

    • Pam Coons says:

      Yes you can. My situation is like yours. As the secondary member you have the same access to Audible that your husband does. I have listened to many of the books that Anne mentioned, as well as some of the Ted Talks which I have found fascinating. All you have to do is download the Audible app, put in your Amazon information and you’re good to go. I have begun exercising much more consistently since I’ve had access to Audible. It’s the only time I allow myself to listen, so I’m much more motivated!

  25. Abby says:

    Amazing. P&P Read by JANE BENNET? Be still my heart. I just discovered the awesomeness that is Audible–I read Outlander again on my kindle, and also listened to the Audible version. I LOVED it because I could hear how they say those Gaelic named and it always synced across the platforms. It was so great. But I would much prefer something free… will have to check this out.

    Columbine is an incredible, incredible book. Highly recommend it.

    Also second Overdrive for books from the library, but I can never finish an audiobook in two weeks these days.

      • Claire says:

        How exactly do you do this? What commands do you give Alexa? Do you use the Echo app to stream from your phone?

        I’ve not used bluetooth with Alexa so I don’t know how that works.

        • Linda says:

          On your phone turn Bluetooth on. Tell Alexa to pair. Scan for new devices. She will tell you the name to look for. Then connect. Now Alexa is a Bluetooth speaker for any app on your phone. I use it for Audible Channels and Overdrive. Hope this helps.

  26. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention! I had no idea, even though I vaguely remember that announcement, too. Now, how to figure out to stream in my car… 🙂 (Took me almost a year to figure out how to stream music in it!)

  27. Christina says:

    I can’t seem to find the answer to this question anywhere on Amazon… anyone know how long you get these audible books for on your account? Is it like the library?

    • Twila Davis Reed says:

      With Channels, they’re streaming only, so you have free access to them for as long as they are posted. While they do trade book content in and out, as far as I can tell, most titles stay there for at least a couple months. In the sci-fi section, most of those have been there since about November, when I discovered them and it’s the end of January now. The podcast channels change in and out much more frequently.

  28. This is such exciting news! I know there is so much included in the Prime accounts any more (and should be for the price), but I just never have time to explore. Thank you for this info!! whoo hoo! I love reading with my ears.

  29. Joy in Alabama says:

    WHOOPEE!! My homeschooled high-school daughter and I are having Read Aloud Week next week (like a mini-vacation where we read fiction and history all week) so guess what we’re going to listen to?? Jumping up and down with excitement!!!! Thanks, Anne, for the heads-up!

  30. Angela says:

    Whaaaaaat?!?! I have Prime Student. I received a letter from Amazon that I haven’t used the video streaming feature and now this? Thanks for the heads up!

  31. Sarah M says:

    WHAT?! This is amazing. Thank you for the tip! (I feel totally ripped off that I can’t use my American Amazon prime membership for video/tv shows in Canada, because of international regulations, but by golly I’m hoping this works!)

  32. Kimberly says:

    I don’t mean to be a real dunce, but I’d like to take advantage of this service for the next few days while I’m still on the free trial (part of deciding if I’ll keep it). How exactly do I access these channels? Via the app? or via the website? Confused Kimberly in Kentucky. 😉

  33. Ann says:

    I bet some others might have the same question. I downloaded the audible app to my I-phone and went to the discover button and typed in “H is for Hawk” and the only place I see to listen is to hit “how to download this book” which then tells me I need to buy it on audible or amazon for it to go to my “library.” Any tips? I love love love this whole idea!

  34. Deb W says:

    I feel like a moron…. i have had audible and prime for many years and use them both all the time… I also have channels marked on audible but I cannot find the audible channel… I go t explore all channels a-z and audible is not listed…. there is an “audible original” option but it does not include the book Cold Sassy Tree that I clicked on on prime page.

  35. Diana says:

    Whoa. While I was poking around looking at Channels and other Prime perks, I found out about Prime Reading! Free downloads, no limits, on a rather select list of books. While there are some books that look…well, like they are free, I did snag some titles like Last Train to Istanbul! I wonder how often they add/rotate titles? Thanks for the info!

  36. Judy says:

    I found this out myself only recently and listened to both “Columbine” and “Everything I Never told You”…both EXCELLENT! First I thought it was just an added Audible benefit but then I accessed it through Amazon and found it was a Prime benefit too. Yippee!

  37. Sarah K says:

    I am an audiobook addict, always looking to get more bang for my credit buck, so I will be checking this out right away! Thanks!

    A note on the Rosamund Pike version of P&P: While I like her voice, I actually thought she did not do as well differentiating between women’s voices in particular. It was often hard to tell Jane and Elizabeth apart, for example, and even Mrs Bennet’s voice did not seem completely consistent to me. For all the other Austen books, I chose Juliet Stevenson’s narrations and absolutely loved them. I will listen to them again (like you, I re-read the Austen canon most years), but I probably won’t re-listen to Rosamund’s P&P. Just my two cents.

    I will say, though, that I really loved Elijah Woods’ Huck Finn.

  38. Sheri says:

    Can anyone describe how to get to this
    .what is the app name? I can’t find it in my amazon app..and I am normally tech savvy. Help!

    Sheri

  39. Bushra says:

    I started using Channels a few weeks ago when I unexpectedly finished an Overdrive book early. I was so pleased to find the audiobooks section that Anne talks about. I listened to The Practicing Mind, by Thomas Sterner (following a reviewer’s rec to bump speed up to 1.25). It was a great follow up to the last book, Grit, by Angela Duckworth. I have been recommending both books & Channels to anyone who will listen!

  40. Yuval says:

    I like sci-fi so Alternate reality channel is most useful for me. Bradbury, Clark and other authors, short stories only. I am not a prime member but use audible all the time.

  41. Niki Deutsch says:

    Thank you for this terrific information! I’ve had prime for a long time, and had no idea this feature even existed.

  42. This post is perfect timing for me. I love to read but struggle with audiobooks and have decided to give them a second chance this year. My renewed love affair with podcasts (such as WSIRN of course) has me hopeful that my attention has the stamina for audiobooks. Thanks for the Amazon Prime tip and the great audiobook suggestions.

  43. Oye! I didn’t realize channels offered whole books! I messed around with the feature a little bit when it came out, I enjoy the meditation channel a lot. Had NO idea I could listen to a complete book, though!!! Woot!

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Now to share this with my Facebook friends so they can take advantage too!

  44. Stephanie says:

    Wow this blog post was such a good find! I stumbled upon this on my Pinterest.I’m so excited to try it as I find myself not knowing what to read these days or have time for the library or the wait for a library e book. I accidentally purchased Prime…yes honest mistake but so far it’s paying off and with this it surely will too!

    • Mary Ann Garcia says:

      Wow, thank you so much for this information. I often run out of my audible credits and sometime need to wait soooo long for items from my library to become available. Now I have another option and this makes me very happy.

  45. Debbie Allan says:

    Thank you so much for this fabulous recommendation. I am now listening to (and loving) Pride and Prejudice. Rosamund Pike’s voice is perfect. I did not now about the free audio books via Prime and so am over the moon.

  46. Kacie says:

    There is usually a free classic book available to all each month, the “free with whispersync” option. So, grab the free kindle copy and get the free audio book. This month, the title for me is “White Fang.”

    On Audible.com, go to “browse Audible” then select “Whispersync for Voice” then “read and listen to a title for free” further down the page to see the month’s selection.

  47. Stacy A. says:

    I just finished listening to the Pride and Prejudice version you mentioned. It was my first Audible listen, and I’m unequivocally hooked! Thanks to your good information, I also have a long listening queue that was free or very nearly. Thank you!

  48. Kae says:

    SO just clarifying- I can listen to the books that I purchased on Audible without paying a monthly membership for Audible? I purchased several from your Deals, but thought that I had to pay the membership to be able to listen to them. I don’t listen much, just when I drive long trips. So I don’t want to pay the monthly fees, but I want to be able to listen periodically.

  49. Natalie B says:

    I’m struggling trying to find the books. On my “Channels” list I don’t see editors choice or celebrity voices or better than the movie categories. There are lots of “article” type podcasts but only one fiction category which has a handful of books like “a Christmas carol” Where do I find the categories you’ve listed?

  50. sh says:

    librivox has thousands of free Audio books. (anything over 70 years old or so is in public domain or something 🙂

    These five autobiographies were amazing:
    Theodore Roosevelt
    Abe Lincoln (not autobio)
    Ben Franklin
    Andrew Carnegie
    Ivan the Great (not autobio)
    I now use Audible and Librivox

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