Did you know you can enjoy a public domain audiobook with text? Find out how and where you can access great public domain audiobooks in this article.

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Public domain audiobooks with text

Listening to audiobooks while reading along with text allows you to enjoy literature in brand-new ways. For example, it’s an excellent way to pick up on issues like tone, pacing, and delivery, which can make you a better reader.

Furthermore, listening along with the text is great for language learners. A budding English speaker can use audio files with written text to pick up on punctuation, phonics, and how to form English sentences.

You can enjoy some audiobooks with text without breaking the bank. Free public domain audiobooks are an excellent option. Here, we explore how to find high-quality public domain audiobooks you can read along with as you listen.

How to listen to public domain audiobooks with text

Before we explore how to listen to public domain audiobooks with text, we should explain the concept of the public domain.

Under copyright law, books enter the public domain 70 years after the author’s death. This rule applies to works of both fiction and non-fiction. It also means that new books aren’t public domain. Any publishers of public domain books don’t own the exclusive rights to them.

Does this mean that having books in the public domain gives you access to free e-books and free downloads? Not necessarily.

The way public domain works is that anybody may publish copyright-free books. However, those publishers can still charge for their version of the book. That’s why you’ll still pay for a book of fairy tales or Aesop’s fables despite their age.

Let’s look at three ways to read text while you listen to a public domain audiobook.

Use Amazon Kindle

Amazon’s Kindle hosts hundreds of thousands of books, many of which are in the public domain. There are several ways to hear the many novels and short stories available for Kindle as you read them.

The first is via Whispersync. Whispersync allows you to listen to the Audible versions of some Kindle audiobooks as you read. You can even switch between the two versions on the fly. The only issue is that it’s available for a limited selection of books.

Using a third-party app is the second option. An app like Immersion Reading allows you to read and listen to any Kindle book. With a button tap, it lets you listen and highlights text as you read.

Use text to speech with optical character recognition (OCR)

Text to speech (TTS) apps use AI-generated voices to read text aloud. Suppose you own the physical version of a book you wish to listen to. You can use a TTS app to do so if it has optical character recognition technology.

OCR scans physical text so computers can read it. You can use it to take pictures of a book’s page, allowing TTS to read it out loud while you read along. Some TTS apps even allow you to create audio recordings you can add to an MP3 player.

Read along with an audiobook platform

Many audiobook platforms offer public domain books. You can read along with the audio as long as you have a written copy of the book.

Where you can find great public domain audiobooks

Assuming you decide to use an audiobook service to listen while you read, you have a question to answer: Where can you find public domain audiobooks?

The following are all great resources.


LibriVox is a non-profit website that hosts many public domain audiobooks. As volunteers provide the audio recordings, they may offer a different quality than a service like Audible. Still, LibriVox audiobooks are a great way to access timeless classics and many old children’s books.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg maintains a library of over 60,000 public domain e-books. Many of these e-books have audiobook versions, which you can also access via the platform. Clever use of its “Search and Browse” feature can help you access both text and audio versions of the same book.

Internet Archive

This non-profit website offers e-books, audiobooks, software, and copyright-free music. It makes recordings available from several other platforms, including LibriVox, Project Gutenberg, and Naropa Poetics Audio Archive.

OverDrive and Libby

OverDrive offers books from over 30,000 libraries across the world. With the OverDrive Libby app, American library card holders can listen to audiobooks they borrow using a desktop computer or mobile device.


Spotify offers a free subscription that allows users to listen to audiobooks as long as they’re willing to listen to advertisements. In addition to audiobooks, Spotify is a great source of music and podcasts, making it similar to iTunes.


Speechify is a new audiobook service with a library of over 60,000 titles. These include many public domain audiobooks, which users can listen to on iOS and Android devices and computers.

Sign up with Speechify and start browsing public domain classics

With Speechify, you can access many great public domain books to listen to as you read along with the associated text. Speechify Audiobooks also has a huge library of new releases and bestsellers, with your first purchase costing just $1.

If you’d like to learn more, check out Speechify Audiobooks online.


Can I make an audiobook of a public domain book?

Nothing is stopping you from making an audiobook of a public domain book. You can even create an audio recording of you narrating the book yourself.

What is the difference between a public domain audiobook and a copyright-free audiobook?

Public domain books used to be under copyright, only entering the public domain because the author has been dead for over 70 years. A public domain book can be a copyright-free book. Authors can also release new books while relinquishing their copyright.

What is the difference between public domain and intellectual property?

Intellectual property is any intangible property that results from creativity, such as copyrights or patents. Public domain means the material is available to the public with no copyright restrictions.

What are the rules for public domain audiobooks?

Anyone can narrate a public domain audiobook. However, publishers can still charge for their narration of these books.

What are some examples of public domain books?

There are many examples of public domain books, including Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

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